I had the honor of attending the Burgundy and Gold Banquet tonight. Was in a great location sitting at a table next to Danny Smith and then Darryl Grant, Dexter Manley, and Larry Michael were at another table next to me. In addition to Youth For Tomorrow (YFT) being a great organization, I wanted to attend to meet Joe Gibbs. He was polite but distant. He stayed to the end to sign an autograph for everyone, but he was overwhelmed and wasn't really having conversations with people. He did take the time to thank my friend that works for YFT.
However, I managed to talk to Danny Smith, Shanahan, and Darryl Grant, and I wanted to share my conversations.
By far, I had the most extensive conversation with Danny Smith. He was engaged, was willing to talk football, and was quick-witted. I walked away impressed and now know why one coach after another retains him (sorry Bang). Quite honestly, if I wasn't in a hurry to meet Shanahan and Gibbs, Smith seemed willing to keep talking football.
Me: "Sir, I just have one question for you -- did you or Zorn call the Swinging Gate play?"
Smith: "Well, we just wanted [the Giants] to call a timeout...which they did."
Smith: "If you remember Suisham had just gone to the Cowboys, and we were playing them next week. He knew the play, and we knew we couldn't run it against the Cowboys."
Me: "Yes, makes sense."
Smith: "So, I told Zorn, 'Don't do it [after the timeout].' But, he called it b/c he wanted to use it and knew he couldn't against the Cowboys."
Me: "Yes, unfortunately, the thing that people remember is the one time you screwed up. You guys had a lot of success with the Special Teams on trick plays that year."
Smith: "Yes, that's exactly right."
I then had a decent conversation with Shanahan. I also found him to be engaging. I told him I was in the military, and he shocked me with his military knowledge. I told him, where I had been stationed, and he asked follow-up questions about the locations. But, the best part:
Me: "Please tell us that you're a Redskins fan for good now, as opposed to being a Broncos fan."
Shanahan: "Yes, I am...without a doubt."
Earlier in the night, I met Darryl Grant...easily one of the friendliest guys there.
Me: "You made my childhood with that game against the Cowboys."
Grant: "Thank you, I really appreciate that."
Me: "You were one of the best on those teams."
Grant: "I appreciate that. I would love to be one of the Top 80 Redskins. If you could please tell your friends to go to redskins80th.com and vote for me, I would love it."
Me: "Sure, you deserve to be on the list."