Redskins fans, especially those who grew up during the George Allen years of the 1970s, were all smiles during Washington's fast start this season.
First-year coach Jim Zorn unknowingly brought back a tradition that is somewhat revered by 'Skins fans of that long ago era when Vietnam and Watergate dominated the headlines.
Though the Redskins never won a Super Bowl under Allen, they were in the playoffs in five of his six seasons in D.C. They were successful and fun and celebrated victories in a style kids today would consider old school . . . if not worse.
Allen's chant of "hip, hip, hooray" was a rallying cry for the Redskins and their fans. Like an old pair of bell-bottoms, it returned earlier this year when Zorn shouted it out after Washington's win over Dallas in Week 4. If you don't know what bell-bottoms are, go Google yourself.
"That was a genuine outburst of enthusiasm for a win," said Zorn, who had no idea of the territory he was entering. "I didn't know that it was a staunch, George Allen tradition. I did it in honor of a guy who coached me: Chuck Knox. Chuck Knox used to do it and I used to think to myself, 'How corny is this? This is just too corny.' But, you know, it came off right."
There hasn't been much to cheer about lately as the Redskins have dropped five of their last six to slip out of the playoff hunt. There used to be hip, hip, hooray shirts and banners throughout FedExField. Who knows? If they spring an upset Sunday against the rival Eagles, it could return.
"Oh, it was OK," said quarterback Jason Campbell, born in 1981. "I didn't have any problem with it. It was OK with us. Guys didn't have any problem with it. Everyone bought into it."
They just had trouble continuing it.
Not sure if it means anything, but Andy Reid is 3-0 in rematch games against the Redskins in Washington. Reid lost the first meeting against Washington in 2000, 2001 and 2007 and avenged those losses later that season on the road. Reid and the Eagles lost to the visiting Redskins in Week 5 of this season, 23-17.
When coordinator Jim Johnson sat with reporters yesterday, he did so wearing a scraggly beard. Was he taking a cue from his defensive players who vowed not to shave until they completed an improbable run to the playoffs.
"I'm not superstitious," the 67-year-old Johnson said rubbing his chin, "but I'm not going to shave this right now." *