Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Redskins Of Lore: Neal Olkewicz
From 1979 to 1989 the heart of the Redskins defense was found right in the middle of the field, wearing #52. Neal "Olk Dog" Olkewicz appeared in 150 regular season games and although tackles were not an official stat at the time, Neal surpassed (at least) 1,500 tackles in his career. Yep, Neal averaged over 10 tackles per game.
The Redskins dynasty era of 1982-1991 was not comprised of flashy free agents who commanded $100 million dollar contracts and huge signing bonuses. The Redskins roster of that era was made up of a lot of guys who were low round or undrafted players who worked hard and got every ounce out of their ability and more. Neal was undrafted out of Maryland, but started for 11 years in the NFL, winning 2 Super Bowls and he's one of the 70 Greatest Redskins.
While I was recently thumbing thru my old Redskins photos and autographs, I came across the above picture. The picture came from a 1987 commemorative magazine celebrating the Redskins Super Bowl win. The short story talks about how Neal made 2 of the biggest defensive plays the Redskins had during the playoffs, plays that enabled the Skins to make it to the Super Bowl. It also talks about how Neal, the team's player rep, kept the Skins together during the strike. Although Neal seemed to be in the twilight of his career, he came back in 88' and was the named the team's defensive MVP. He was...a bad-ass.
I did find Neal's autograph, it's on a regular piece of paper. Simple, straight forward and after nearly 25 years, still holding up strong...just like old #52. Thanks Neal.
Cheers and Hail