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My Favorite Super Bowl Memory: John Riggins Runs Over the Dolphins

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

by Paul Semendinger

February 13, 2022


If readers would like, they can share their favorite Super Bowl memories in the comments below.

My favorite Super Bowl was Super Bowl XVII which pitted the Washington Redskins against the Miami Dolphins.

This Super Bowl came as the conclusion to the 1982 regular season. As a kid, I was a big Jets fan. (I came to football late and didn’t know of the Yankees/Giants connection.) I loved Freeman McNeil and the New York Sack Exchange. Richard Todd was also a favorite of mine. It was good stuff. It was easy to take an interest in the Jets at that time.

That year, especially in the playoffs, I also took a liking to the Redskins, mostly because of their great running back, John Riggins. Man did I root for John Riggins. I loved watching him play and just run and run and run – right over the competition. I had never seen a player like John Riggings – a big strong running back that just kept moving forward and got better and better as the games went on.

It was “Riggins left, Riggins right, and Riggins up the middle…”

John Riggins carried the Redskins in their playoff drive that year and then, at the most critical point in the Super Bowl, he scored a big touchdown that gave Washington the lead (on the longest run from scrimmage in the game’s history to that point) when the Redskins went for it on a fourth and one. It was just amazing!

Watching that run by John Riggins was the greatest thrill I ever had watching football. It was a combination of disbelief, joy, wonder, and excitement mixed with the special joy that comes only as a kid enjoying sport. (We lose that innocence and joy somehow as we get older…even as we try to recapture it.) I never tire of seeing that play. It is actually one of my favorite sports memories ever.

I’m not a big football fan any longer. I lost my enthusiasm for the sport in the late 1980’s. I watch some games, occasionally, but I’m really just a one sport guy now. The Yankees are my true love.

Still, each year on Super Bowl Sunday, I do like to remember John Riggins and that amazing game. It will always bring a smile to my face.


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