During his very first training camp, George Starke looked around the Redskins locker room and realized just how many colorful characters he had surrounding him. There was Larry Brown, Charley Taylor and Pat Fischer, eventual Hall of Famers that he was witnessing through an entirely different lens than he had on television.
"On that first day I got out a yellow pad and started writing," Starke said. "I just thought this was amazing."
Eventually becoming one of the "70 Greatest Redskins" and a vaunted member of The Hogs throughout the 1980s, Starke had always aimed to be a writer and thought his notes on the team's culture might come in handy someday.
Now, about four decades later, he's hoping to mine some of those yellow notepads to create a 12-episode television series called “Hog Heaven.”
On Wednesday, he hosted a kickoff reception and promotional teaser for the show at Great Gatherings in the Mosaic District as part of the Northern Virginia Film Festival, in the middle of its two-week run in its fourth year.
Starke teamed up with screenwriter Jack McLaughlin Jr., who helped him turn the script from a movie into a television show. The entire series is fully written – the first season will follow the team during the 1982 Super Bowl season – but Starke is looking for a buyer to begin production and the next steps. He hopes to hire actors to portray each member of the offensive line.
"The league doesn't like colorful characters. But there used to be a lot of colorful players, we had a lot of them on one team," Starke said. "We managed to blend the zaniness and fun off the field, but when you go to work it's all business."
One of Starke's favorite memories, which played on video for the fans that came by the reception to greet him and Rick "Doc" Walker, belongs to the end of the first Super Bowl-winning season when the Redskins beat the Cowboys 31-17 in the NFC Championship.
With Washington ahead by 14 points, the team needed to run out the clock. Head coach Joe Gibbs called in a stretch run play with about four minutes remaining, but the offensive line disregarded it. Quarterback Joe Theismann ran the 50-Gut, a rush play up the middle, and kept running it, ultimately breaking down the Dallas defense to victory.
Starke appreciated how Gibbs never chewed out his team for overruling his play-call. In fact, Gibbs never mentioned it. Years later when Russ Grimm was being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Starke asked Gibbs about it.
"When you're on the sideline and you're calling plays and clearly we're not running those plays, what did you think?" Starke asked Gibbs. "He said, 'I learned from being around you guys, to sometimes step out.'"