Washington fans are said to have two favorite teams: the Redskins, and whoever is playing the Cowboys.
On Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008, every proud citizen in Redskins Nation was a die-hard Baltimore Ravens fan.
On the league’s network, on Saturday Night Football, Jerry Jones was closing Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas, and hand-picked the Ravens as the team to be the last victim in stadium history.
The the title banners hung high in the rafters, and more than 100 former players, including 12 members of the Ring of Honor were trotted out on the field. Emmitt Smith, Roger Staubach and Jerry Jones were among the speakers.
Among the Ravens ranks, was offensive guard (and now Redskins guard) Chris Chester.
“The atmosphere, it almost felt like a playoff game,” he remembered. “It seemed like between every quarter, they were having some ceremony for retired players, retired numbers, and all these people that were famous were talking about the history. It definitely felt like a playoff atmosphere–it was that intense.”
No question it was a three-ring circus, befitting the closure of the Cowboys home. But they forgot the bit about winning the football game.
Trailing 0-7 after the first drive, Chester’s Ravens put the pedal to the metal and never looked back, turning out the lights on Texas Stadium with a convincing 33-24 victory.
The two plays that put the game away in the fourth quarter, were a 77-yard touchdown run by running back Willis McGahee, and an 82-yard run by fullback Le’Ron McClain. Chester was part of a line that blew open huge holes on both runs.
“It was just the perfect storm,” Chester said with a smile. “One of them was a fullback belly, which typically doesn’t hit for like 80 yards. Le’Ron McClain is a good runner, but that’s not really something that goes hand-in-hand with his game. Then the other was a power-end with Willis McGahee, which you can break at any time.”
After the game, McGahee told the media: “It wasn’t a homecoming game. It was more like a mock funeral. We spoiled their day. It was probably the best concert ever in Irving, Texas.”
Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens said dejectedly after the loss: “We wanted to add to the history, we wanted to add to the celebration. Obviously, we didn’t do that. We made history, but not the way we wanted to.”
Tonight marks the first time that Chester returns to play in Texas after that game. Certainly no one in the stands will remember that he was part of the team that crashed their party in 2008, but that game will serve as a fond memory in his back pocket.
“It’s going to be one of my greatest football memories,” he said. “Closing down that stadium, and being part of the two plays that closed it down. It’s definitely going to be one of the greatest moments of my career.”
As a member of the Redskins in tonight’s bad-blood rivalry, Chester feels confident that his football path has prepared him for whatever happens tonight.
“I’m gonna make it a point to enjoy the atmosphere of one of the greatest rivalries in the NFL,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m not gonna let it overwhelm me. I try not to get caught up too much in the spectacle of a big game.”
Tonight should be another spectacle, in the Cowboys home-opener.
If you want to remember the warm and fuzzy feeling from the Ravens-Cowboys game, admire below: