Green, Art forever
I worked at a gas station during my late teen years, a Chevron off North Shore Drive in Reston, Va. Back then, folks had choices between full-serve and self-serve, and petroleum transport engineers like myself were responsible for collecting money from the patrons.
I would stand on the self-serve island, and give out change to people who paid with cash. Those who used plastic would follow me into the office area where I would swipe their card. That space had one soda- and two cigarette-vending machines and motor oil, transmission fluid and fuel injector cleaner on the shelves.
Many times, in the full-service island, I would check people’s dipstick, wash the windshield and put air in tires. Regular customers usually tipped a dollar or so.
It was a happening place, this Chevron station opposite Lake Anne Center. It was where I watched the Washington Redskins win the Super Bowl in 1987 while working the Sunday 3-11 p.m. shift. I believe I ordered China King that night.
The station was also a place where Redskins would come to fill up because many lived in Reston. Dexter Manley was a regular. Charles Mann appeared a few times. Mark Moseley and his perm graced us.
But my favorite, and everyone else’s, was Darrell Green who would drive his Volkswagen Bug to say hello.
My memory is blurry, but I do recall thinking that the car was a perfect fit for the diminutive Green. He was slim, but his muscles bulged from his tight T-shirt. He was very friendly and smiled all the time.
I don’t remember any of us asking Green for his autograph. It wasn’t like that. He was a Redskin, sure, but not untouchable like many athletes today. For crying out loud, he drove a Bug.
We had a tow truck driver named Willie, who had the biggest and most brutal hands I have ever seen. The guy could catch baseballs with no glove and not feel the sting. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think Green came to the station to talk cars with Willie, who was restoring a 1970 Ford Maverick.
During this time, Art Monk was fast becoming the best receiver in the history of the game. Indeed, Jerry Rice was zigzagging for plenty of touchdowns, but it was Monk who was the standard having played five more years than the San Francisco 49ers receiver.
Monk moved the chains and is regarded as the first big receiver with a then-record of 106 receptions in 1984. He was consistent, catching a pass in 183 consecutive games.
I remember listening to the radio and reading the Washington Post when he was drafted in 1980. I was 10 and just beginning my journey as a fan of the Redskins. He was easily the team’s best player, and so many times, I fell asleep replaying his catches in my mind.
I’m not alone in expressing my fondness and gratitude to these two greats from my youth. I loved my childhood, and Monk and Green were a big part of making growing up fun.
Now these two men of class, humble and gracious every moment of their lives, will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. I won’t say anything about the travesty that kept Monk out of the hallowed halls for so long. Instead, I see the delay as a blessing as he and Green, two practice opponents for so many years, go in together.
I was able to witness the greatest era of football around these part. I am a lucky man in this regard.
OUT AT HOME: I went to the Redskins Fan Appreciation Day last weekend. What a stinking disaster. It took two hours to get into Redskins Park, and another 45 minutes to buy a hot dog. As soon as I bit into the soggy dog, the scrimmage was over. Never again? No way. I’ll be back next year.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Remember him? Apparently he makes a good living touring minor-league ballparks now.