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Redskin games of yesteryear….those were the days

By Staff | Oct 7, 2016

Back in the old days, by which I mean the 1970s, getting ready for a Redskins football Sunday meant packing a picnic to eat in the stands. Mom would chop celery and swirl mayonnaise into tuna to make sandwiches that became deliciously soggy when we unwrapped them at halftime. As the weather turned cold, she would fill a Thermos with Daddy’s favorite milky, sweet cocoa, that remained searingly hot enough to burn our mouths, even as our toes froze.

Our seats were metal bleachers at the end zone. When the Washington Senators left DC for Texas, RFK Stadium no longer had use for its enormous baseball scoreboard and Longines clock. Steel bleachers were erected in front of them, that added new seats, for which die-hard football fans had been hoping. After many years on a waiting list, we got two season tickets for those hard, cold-metal end-zone seats.

We took turns using them. Of course, Daddy always got a ticket. The remaining seat alternated between mom, my sister

and I.

The sightline from there was terrible. Once the players advanced farther than the closest 20-yard line, it was hard to tell how many yards were gained. Somehow, Daddy could always make out the plays, which he kept track of in a little notebook. In the days before Jumbotron stadium video replays, fans had to really watch every play, every moment. Daddy was the kind of sports fan that tracked players’ statistics.

As for me, I would sometimes daydream, or watch the Redskins cheerleaders on the sidelines.

Also, because our seats were just above the concession stand, no matter how delicious mom’s homemade sandwiches were, the scent of stadium hotdogs always enticed.

All that is history now. The Redskins haven’t played at RFK since 1997, after owner Jack Kent Cooke invested in the largest football stadium at that time in the NFL. At more than 91,000 seats, it was far larger than RFK Stadium, and our end zone bleacher seats were upgraded to regular stadium seats, close to the 20-yard line. Two years later, new team owner Daniel Snyder sold the naming rights of the stadium to FedEx for an average of $7.6 million per year.

The stadium today is a riot of video scoreboards, with nary a hotdog stand at field level. Now there are multiple concourses, with food courts and gastropubs, restaurants and patio lounges, and concessions menus that range from veggie wraps and crab cakes to salads and gluten-free fare. Today, people no sooner receive their food than shoot photos of it with their phones and upload them to social media.

Forget about bringing your own tuna fish sandwiches. Security will confiscate your lunch bag. And that Thermos of cocoa to warm a chilly Sunday? You’ll never get it past the gate.

These days if I’m going to a game, I make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and eat it on the way, in the car.