Earlier this week, we had a chance to hear from former Redskins executive Charley Casserly on the quarterback matchup in tonight’s Redskins-Cowboys game.
Today, he sheds a little light on the single greatest game that he witnessed as part of this storied rivalry: the 1982 NFC Championships at RFK.
“The ’82 Championship was the one that, to me, that is the No. 1 in the rivalry,” Casserly remembered. “We had lost five straight to them, we were playing for the championship, we had only lost one game all year–they were the team that beat us.
The Redskins faithful were well aware of that fact, and anticipated the matchup weeks in advance.
“I think it was the crowd reaction of the game is what sticks with you, because leading up to that game in the first playoff game, we beat Detroit,” Casserly said. “In the fourth quarter, the fans–on their own, they had never done this before–they started chanting ‘We Want Dallas!’ It was sort of a spontaneous thing.”
The Redskins crushed the Lions at home that week, 31-7. The next week, the Redskins hosted the Vikings:
“Then we went and played Minnesota, and we scored on the first possession,” Casserly said, “and the fans started chanting ‘We Want Dallas!’ and the game’s not even half over yet!
The Redskins easily disposed of the Vikings, 21-7, and looked ahead to hosting the arch rival Cowboys. But it was the fans of Redskins Nation that made the game exciting:
“I remember the Friday before the championship game, I had come back from the Senior Bowl,” Casserly remembered. “And I was driving to old Redskins Park, which was through an industrial complex; it was like a high school game. People had signs hanging out of windows: ‘Beat Dallas!’ A group of people from an office came over to our parking lot and started singing ‘Hail To The Redskins’ in the middle of the afternoon. It was unbelievable. Then somebody on Constitution holds out a sign: ‘Honk If You Hate Dallas,’ and you end up with a massive traffic jam.
The Burgundy and Gold exuberance wasn’t just reserved for the Redskins though. There was plenty of enthusiasm for the visiting Cowboys too:
“A bunch of the fans went over to the Dallas hotel, and starting chanting outside of it,” he said with a laugh. “So then you come to the stadium and I’m not kidding you, there had to be 30,000 people in the stands about an hour before the game. So then it’s about a half an hour before the game, and the Cowboys are coming out on the field, and the fans are chanting ‘We Want Dallas!'”
Thirty years later, Casserly was still amazed by the spontaneity and passion of the crowd during that Super Bowl run. As amazing as it was to knock off the Dolphins in the playoffs, the vibe at RFK in the NFC Championships tops it all.
“The atmosphere of that day was the greatest atmosphere I ever saw in the rivalry.”
Casserly is now an analyst for the NFL on CBS, and is a great follow on Twitter: @CasserlyCBS. He recently shared this nugget of information after film study:
We Want Dallas!