NEW YORK – John Riggins’ favorite Super Bowl memory is not his famous 43-yard TD run in Super Bowl XVII. His favorite memory actually happened a few days before the game, when Riggins had a hear-to-heart chat with coach Joe Gibbs.
Riggins wanted to win desperately. He also wanted the ball. So for the first time in his career, Riggins said he sought out a pre-game meeting with Gibbs. “I used to talk with (assistant coach) Joe Bugel all the time,” Riggins said Wednesday during an appearance for Steiner Sports at Pace University. “So when I told Joe, ‘Hitch the wagon to me,’, he said, ‘Don’t tell me. Tell the old man (Gibbs).’
“I had never even been in the coach’s locker room before. When I went in, Gibbs was the only one there. So I said to him, ‘Joe, I’m ready to play. Don’t worry about me getting tired. If I’m tired, I’ll come out of the game. Give me the ball.’ “Joe just looked at me. He finally said, ‘OK’. I really wasn’t sure what he was thinking. But it meant a lot to me, because it was one of those moments you look back on, when you needed to stand up and you did. I let him know that if he needed to come to me, I was the guy. And I felt even more pumped up after that.”
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Gibbs took Riggins’ advice, and rode him to a Super Bowl victory. He carried the ball 38 times for 166 yards, including the 43-yard TD run that put the Redskins ahead for good.
Now Riggins spends plenty of time working on his cooking and hunting show, “Riggo on the Range.’’ But he keeps a close eye on the Redskins. While he has not been afraid to criticize the team in the past, Riggins took a wait-and-see stance regarding new head coach Jay Gruden.
“I know Redskins fans invest not just with their pocketbooks, but emotionally,” Riggins said. “Losing gets frustrating. Their fans are very loyal, and I’m sure they’re looking forward to see what happens.
“In the NFL, in this day in age anything can happen overnight. They may not be as far away as you think. But we’ll find out.”