The man best known in Loudoun for delivering welcomed messages of school cancelations has a few words to share about the Washington Redskins.
Wayde Byard, public information officer for Loudoun County Public Schools, recently published “The Burgundy and Gold Standard,” the culmination of a years-long effort to research and document the history of the NFL.
“These are stories every fan should know about the Washington Redskins and a few your father wouldn’t tell you,” the book description reads. “It’s the definitive account of the men (and at least one strong-willed woman) who created and defined a team that has captivated millions for more than eighty years.”
Byard, a former reporter who covered crime, schools, government and sports, has served as the county school system’s spokesman and communication lead since 2000.
He will hold a book launch party and book signing with Ann Lambert Good, author of “Washington Nationals A to Z;” and Andrea Alexander, author of “Sports Biographies: Kirk Cousins” and “Sports Biographies: Bryce Harper.” The event is 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, at Hail Hog in One Loudoun, 20357 Exchange St. in Ashburn. Glory Days Live will host a silent auction and raffle, with proceeds helping Loudoun kids who don’t have the financial means to play the sports they love.
“The Burgundy and Gold Standard” can be purchased for $20 at mascotbooks.com.
Here are a few words from Byard about how this project started and why he pursued it:
‘The Burgundy and Gold Standard’
By Wayde Byard
I totally get the guy with the world’s biggest ball of string.
Years ago—more than I can remember—I started writing a “little” football book. Five computers later, I’d assembled a 3,000-page database on NFL history. Through the years, I’ve gone through newspaper and magazine archives, game summaries, interviewed a lot of former players and gathered knowledge—it seems sometimes—for knowledge’s sake.
Last year, I was talking with Naren Aryal, the publisher of Mascot Books in Herndon, and we decided to put this knowledge to use. I wrote this book for the true fan who wants to know more than the latest hot topic on sports radio. To me, the history of the NFL is really the history of America during the past century. Race, class warfare, gender politics, the rise of the electronic media is all there for anyone who takes the time to look.
Besides, the NFL has produced more authentic characters than any work of fiction.
The Redskins’ original owner, George Preston Marshall, was almost Shakespearean in his rise and downfall. On the one hand, his flair for showmanship and marketing kept the NFL alive during the Depression. On the other, his racism and ego turned the team into the NFL’s doormat for 20 years.
George Allen, in my opinion, is the greatest eccentric genius in American sports. You couldn’t make up the characters he surrounded himself with, his attention to detail, or the lengths to which he would go to motivate his team.
Everybody remembers what a character John Riggins was, but they also should know about guys like Coy Bacon and Verlon “Dirty” Biggs.
Anybody who doesn’t know the story of Bobby Mitchell should. He is a microcosm of the Civil Rights movement and one of the bravest men ever to pull on the burgundy and gold.
I also throw in some anecdotes that only I saw; like Gerald Riggs and the truck.
I devote some space to Pat Fischer, who by any objective measure, should be in the Hall of Fame. Anybody who plays in the NFL at 140 pounds deserves a bust in Canton. Another player who should be in the Hall is Jerry Smith, who’s been blackballed for his sexuality. When you look at his stats and the esteem his teammates held him in, there’s no doubt he’s a more worthy candidate then many men who are already enshrined.
I got to spend some time with the legendary trainer Bubba Tyer while researching this book and every fan should have the chance to sit down with someone like this.
I also try to pay homage to a man who helped me during my sports-writing career; former general manager Bobby Beathard. Simply put, he’s the smartest executive I’ve met in any business.
I cover all the great stories about Joe Theismann, Sonny and Sam, Sammy Baugh and Billy Kilmer. Hopefully, I’ll get fans to remember some players and games they’ve half forgotten. A lot of people, like me, measure life in great sports moments.
I’ve completed a second book, “L.A. Football Confidential,” which covers the full history of professional football in Los Angeles: Rams, Dons, Chargers, Sun, Raiders, Express and Xtreme. The Rams have opened their archives for this project, but I still need to line up some backers.
Writing also lets me meet people like the authors I’m staging the event with on July 26; Andrea Alexander and Ann Good. Being around creative people with a dream always inspires and energizes me.