“Every year that goes by it fades a little bit from wholesale soccer jerseys your memory,” said Hall of Fame running back John Riggins last year on the red carpet of the NFL Honors.
He was recalling memories of Super Bowl XVII, in which he won MVP, most notably because of his famous fourth-and-1, 43-yard touchdown run that effectively sealed the Redskins’ 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins, 34 years ago Monday.
But when Redskins.com caught up with Riggins last year, he recalled at least one image that has yet to fade as the years pass.
“The real memory is when I walked out onto the field after the game,” Riggins said. “I had been in the locker room, I was the last one to leave, and I’m by myself, and the workers are up there cleaning up the stadium at the Rose Bowl, the sun has sunk into the Pacific, the lights are on, and I just, for whatever reason, happened to glance skyward, and I looked up and I saw the scoreboard and it was still illuminated, and it said Washington 27, Miami 17, and that’s when it hit me that we were actually World Champions. It’s a real good moment, it always gives me a few goosebumps.”
The Redskins’ had an NFC-best 8-1 record that season — thanks to a reduced total number of games because of the 57-day players’ strike – and rode behind Riggins and the burgeoning Hogs of the offensive line.
Riggins would go on to rush for a then Super Bowl record 166 yards on 38 carries. It was even noted that four months after the victory, Riggins bought each member of the offensive line a $2,000 rifle, as a reward.
Following the Super Bowl, President Ronald Reagan called head coach Joe Gibbs with congratulations.
Appropriately, Riggins said this after the game: “Reagan may be president, but today I’m king.”