This is part of a series of sports history articles celebrating fan bases who enjoyed success from multiple teams in a short period of time. This piece celebrates the Washington D.C. fan base for their run in the early 1980s.
Washington D.C. is undeniably in love with its Redskins, the one issue bipartisan agreement can be worked out in the nation’s capital. And over the past thirty years Georgetown basketball has become a popular commodity. The early part of the 1980s brought a high point to D.C, as dynasties with the city’s NFL team and its top college basketball program converged.
The Washington Redskins and Georgetown basketball each won a title in the period from 1982-85, each came close to at least one more, and each did it with a flair and color that lives in decades later.
Joe Gibbs came to Washington in 1981, and in his second year, won the franchise’s first Super Bowl. One year later, with one of the most explosive offenses in team history, the Redskins won the NFC title, though the repeat bid fell a game short.
Washington won another NFC East title in 1984, and though the run temporarily ended with a non-playoff year in 1985 (albeit one with a 10-6 record), Gibbs had the Redskins on the map. From the Hogs (the big offensive line) to the Fun Bunch (the small group of receivers) and a colorful and quotable runner in John Riggins, the early 1980s Redskins were a memorable group.
Georgetown was led by big John Thompson, the 6’10” head coach and former center, and Thompson’s recruiting and ability to reach the black athlete brought him an elite center in Patrick Ewing, and a supporting cast whose names seemed to interchange, but whose fundamental style remained the same—aggressive defense on the perimeter combined with physical and intimidating play everywhere on the floor.
The Hoyas reached the NCAA final in Ewing’s freshman year of 1982, only to lose by a point to North Carolina. Georgetown took a brief step back in 1983 while Thompson rebuilt Ewing’s supporting cast. A national championship season followed in 1984.
It looked like another was about to follow, with a repeat title set to validate Georgetown as the first true dynasty of the post-John Wooden era. That came up a game short in a shocking loss to Villanova in the 1985 Final Four, but the Georgetown Hoyas of the Patrick Ewing era made college basketball a cultural event in the nation’s capital and in African-American communities across America.
Taken collectively, the Washington Redskins and Georgetown Hoyas, combined to make the nation’s capital the place to be in the first part of the 1980s.
Read more about the 1982 Washington Redskins
Read more about the 1983 Washington Redskins
Read more about the 1982 Georgetown Hoyas
Read more about the 1984 Georgetown Hoyas
Read more about the 1985 Georgetown Hoyas