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Throwback Thursday: In The Eyes Of Ravin Caldwell, The Atmosphere At RFK Stadium Was Just 'Crazy'


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It was one of the smallest stadiums in the NFL. But it was one with a distinct personality that took on a new life during the Redskins' glory period in the 1980s and early 90s.

And something about RFK Stadium piqued the curiosity of Ravin Caldwell when his rookie season began in 1987.

"Most college stadiums are a lot bigger, so I was surprised by how small RFK was," Caldwell said in a recent interview. "Once when we were warming up in the far end zone, I heard people cheering. I turned around and looked. At the time, I didn't know the bleachers there were wooden, but they were shaking. I was like, What is this? Are we having an earthquake or something?' It was just rumbling over there. I looked around, and someone said,No, it's just wooden bleachers.'


"But that's how the fans got fired up," he added. "The stadium held a little more than 50,000. But it just sounded like there were 80,000 people in there. I was in awe of the fans and the passion. It was crazy."

To this day, Caldwell can picture one of the fans who regularly sat in the wooden bleachers.

"There was this one guy," he said. "He was always in the corner. We called him `pump him up.' I still see him to this day doing basketball events, Wizards and stuff like that. I would look in the corner and see him at the bottom of the bleachers."

Caldwell, a Redskins linebacker and special teams standout from 1987 to 1992, played his college ball at Arkansas. He said the Razorbacks' stadium was much bigger than RFK.

"All the Southwest Conference stadiums, plus Nebraska and other schools in the region, were probably bigger than RFK," he said. "RFK probably would have fit in one of those college stadiums about twice."

Caldwell has two Super Bowl rings from his days with the Burgundy & Gold: Super Bowl XXII in the 1987 season and Super Bowl XXVI in the 1991 season.

On their march to Super Bowl XXVI, the Redskins tallied a 24-7 playoff win over the Falcons at RFK Stadium on Jan. 4, 1992. That victory is famously known in Redskins' lore as the "seat cushion game."

That's because many of the 55,181 fans at RFK Stadium tossed seat cushions onto the field with the Redskins in command in the fourth quarter. The team had handed them out before the game as part of a promotion.

The fans, later feeling in a festive mood, sent the seat cushions raining down onto the field. After a few minutes, the entire field was littered with them.

"It was wild," Caldwell said. "They threw all the cushions onto the field. It took the stadium personnel about 20 minutes to clear the whole field. I was laughing. I thought it was the greatest thing. I'm like, `I can't believe they're throwing seat cushions onto the field.' They had to stop just to clean the fields. It was crazy."

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