As the Washington Redskins prepare for the annual Alumni Homecoming game this Sunday, NFL historian Jim Gehman and Redskins.com remember Super Bowl XXII, focusing on Jeff Bostic today.
Just suppose for a moment that after he was released by the Eagles late in the 1980 training camp, rookie free agent center Jeff Bostic had decided to go sightseeing in New York for a few days before he headed home.
He, however, chose to forgo the opportunity to tour the Empire State Building and, as an indirect result, would spend the next several seasons in another tourist-rich city.
"The Redskins had shown interest before I signed to go to Philadelphia. So I was heading back to North Carolina and I figured Washington's right on the way, so I went by and worked out for them," said Bostic. "I didn't realize a lot of the problems they were having, but it seemed like a punt snap had gone over the punter's head every game in the preseason.
"I ran and did all these little drills, and they basically told me, 'If we have any more problems, we're going to call you.' So I headed back home and watched the Redskins' [final preseason] game on TV, and on the first [punt] snap of the game, the ball goes sailing over the punter's head! The next day, I got the call."
After high-tailing it back to Washington, Bostic signed with the Redskins as a long-snapper less than a week before the season-opener against Dallas on September 8.
He went through that game and the rest of the schedule without making any bad snaps and was awarded a game ball from head coach Jack Pardee for causing a fumble during the December 7 victory over San Diego.
Bostic became the starting center and continued to handle the long-snapping duties the following season under new head coach Joe Gibbs, who had been the offensive coordinator of the Chargers.
"He did what many new coaches do," Bostic said. "He came in and really cleaned house. A lot of the remnants of the 1980 team, from the Over-the-Hill-Gang, guys from the George Allen era, he got rid of a lot of them. He tried to implement that 'Air Coryell' offense [that had been successful for San Diego].
"And after five games, we were 0-5, and I think he realized that he needed to fit the offense to the personnel. Instead of throwing the ball 55 times a game, we started running it 55 times a game.
"What I think the key was, after starting 0-5, was the ability to finish 8-8. We won eight of our last 11 games with basically four rookie linemen. I had never started.
"Melvin Jones had never started. [Joe] Jacoby, [Mark] May, and [Russ] Grimm had never started. George Starke was the only one that had any playing experience. I don't know if it's an NFL record, but I don't think any team has ever started the season with four offensive linemen who never had a career start."
That proved to just be the beginning of an outstanding 14-year career for Bostic with the Redskins. He would start in four Super Bowls, help earn three Lombardi Trophies, and be chosen to play in the Pro Bowl following the 1983 season, before retiring after the 1993 campaign.
The excerpts are from a book about the Redskins *"Then Gibbs Said to Riggins…" by Jim Gehman. It is a series of first-person anecdotes and remembrances with dozens of Washington's former players and coaches dating back to Sammy Baugh.*