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2

After A 31-Year Wait, Cowne Gets His Super Bowl Ring

If you are over at C.S. Monroe Technology Center in Leesburg these days and want to see a Super Bowl ring, go find resource teacher John Cowne.

Lost in the media crush of the Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup parade Tuesday was the fact that the replacement players who participated in three games during the Washington Redskins' 1987 Super Bowl season finally got their rings. They weren’t originally going to, but a 30 for 30 special on ESPN recently bought a spotlight to the fact they didn’t get rings, and the organization responded.

Cowne, who is also an assistant to Head Coach Mike Skinner at Woodgrove here in Loudoun County, played collegiately at Virginia Tech. He was on the teams of Bill Dooley from 1980 to 1983, primarily as a long snapper on teams that had a combined record of 31-14 and played in a bowl game. Cowne made an attempt at the NFL in 1987, playing for the San Diego Chargers before being waived at the end of the exhibition season.

The Brentsville District High School standout then got a call from Charlie Casserly, who was responsible for putting a replacement team together. On the night of Sept. 22, 1987, Cowne joined his new teammates at the Dulles Airport Marriott and ended up playing in all three games, including the Monday night October 19th 13-7 win over Dallas.

But just like in the movie “The Replacements”, the next day it was over and players were told to clean out their lockers. Cowne, the first and only player in the history of Brentsville District High School to play Division I football (and now get a Super Bowl ring), returned to teaching high school and coaching, where his stops have included positions at Loudoun Valley and Broad Run here in Ashburn.

Thanks to Will Montgomery’s Twitter feed (a fellow Hokie and Redskin) I was even able to grab a picture of Montgomery and Cowne (Cowne is on the right) and a picture of that newly minted Super Bowl ring.

This of course raises another question I will have to investigate: how many high school football coaches in Loudoun County have Super Bowl rings?

I now know there’s at least one….

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Ovechkin May End Up Being Snyder's Worst Nightmare

If you have followed the antics of Alex Ovechkin, his teammates and the Stanley Cup since they all landed at Dulles Friday, you’d have to think this group is Dan Snyder’s worst nightmare.

I’m not saying everyone is now going to stop following pro football and embrace hockey. The fanbase for that franchise is deep and isn’t going anywhere immediately.

But that fanbase is old. It’s my generation that has a closet filled with Redskins jerseys and will follow them until they die. The younger generation that has just gotten out of college does not have that loyalty. They don’t seem to be going to live sporting events as evidenced by more and more empty seats around the country. The value for high-priced tickets to any team’s games, much less one that isn’t all that much fun to follow come playoff time, just doesn’t seem to be there.

Then these guys come along. Watching Ovi and company is like watching a bunch of modern-day Beatles remaking “A Hard Day’s Night.” Heck, as hard as these guys are going at it, they could call it “A Hard Day’s WEEK.”

They are becoming folk heroes in front of our very eyes. First, they win the Stanley Cup. Then they take the Cup all over Las Vegas like a group of guys who are maniacs on a mission. They make the movie “The Hangover” look tame, and I figured no one can go at that pace two days in a row. They’ll calm down when they get home, logic dictated.

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BREAKING NEWS: Cheap Man Pays Full Retail For Caps Stuff

Today I was out and about just like half of Northern Virginia, shopping for Caps Stanley Cup merchandise.

It was painful. I haven’t paid full retail in 27 years. But there is a certain competitiveness after a team wins a championship, and while everyone can order online and have stuff Monday, I needed something yesterday. Even if it meant paying through the nose. 

I actually did find something yesterday when my wife was out shopping with my daughter. She brought home a shirt that was the price of four large pizzas from Papa Johns, and while it looked nice, it didn’t fit right. So we went back today to return it and discovered there were new and better things to max out your credit card on.

You have to be quick. I started off with the Tervis mug you see in the picture to the right. It says it will keep things cool for 8 hours, but I think having that mug with  the “Stanley Cup Champions” and Washington Capitals logo on it is going to be cool for 8 years or longer.

They also had shirts that said “Our Year”, which is exactly what my sentiment is. The Caps won the title Thursday night and throughout the playoffs have been incorporating the Nationals into a lot of their celebrations like older brothers showing their younger brethren the ropes. I think that’s going to pay off in the fall, as a number of players are going to remember this and dig deep to be able to experience all of this for themselves and their teammates.

Plus, it was the only one left in my “jumbo petite” size. Seconds after I grabbed the shirt, I turned to the table that had “Stanley Cup Champions” hats on it only a minute before for my next purchase. The table was empty. More will be coming in soon, I was told. You snooze, you lose is now the law of the Stanley Cup merchandise jungle.

Still, two out of three wasn’t bad. I went home, filled the tumbler full of ice, and poured my beverage of choice – iced tea – into it. Probably the millionth glass of iced tea I’ve had in my life.

But easily, after a Stanley Cup title I've waited 40 years for, the sweetest. :)

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Capitals and the Cup Take A Trip To Nats Park...

Nothing like a day at the ballpark, as the Caps came to Nats Park to show off the Stanley Cup. At top, Alex Ovechkin throws the first pitch just a bit high, but when you win a Cup, you get a mulligan. Below, Ovechkin notices that every time he raises the Cup over his head, people strangely seem to cheer wildly....

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After Last Night, No More Waiting For The Caps...

Of all the videos produced by the NHL and the Washington Capitals, this one by the Caps may easily be the best. Watch it now....and 6 months from now when you're having a bad day, come back and watch it again. It won't disappoint...

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Thank You, Ovi. You Did It.

What a great video by the NHL. Well done, guys. But it sure is dusty in here. Or the pollen has gotten REALLY bad...

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C'mon Now, Sing Along...We Are The Champions, My Friend...

Waking up this morning, my first thought was “that must have been a dream.”

But it’s not. The Caps won the Stanley Cup. And Alex Ovechkin took the Cup on a wild night in Vegas after the game, if the pictures I’m seeing on Twitter are accurate. In fact, this is one of the rare days that social media is almost overrun with pictures of celebration and happiness. It's like a Christmas morning.

The Washington Post certainly made sure I knew it was no dream. World Wars have ended with headlines smaller than what the Post has today about the Caps winning.

Then there is this serenade that I just had to post, because it's my favorite of everything I've seen. I’d have liked to have been in Las Vegas to see the win. But now seeing this, I’d have settled for being with this group of fellow red-clad long-suffering fans and belted out at least one verse of Queen's “We Are The Champions.”

Particularly when it gets to the part about “of the WORLD.”

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This Time, Charlie Brown Finally Got It Right

It’s after 1:30 AM, and I don’t want to go to bed. I don’t want what just happened tonight to end.

Tonight was more than hockey, more than winning a Stanley Cup. It’s the finish to a journey that has ended in disappointment at every bend in the road for such a long freaking time. Lucy has been forever pulling the football up as the Charlie Brown Capitals tried to kick it for over 40 years. Every year the season has ended with the Caps lying flat on their backs looking up at the sky.

Not tonight. ‘Ol’ Lucy was a little too slow pulling the football away this time, and Charlie Brown nailed it. Right through the uprights.

They did it. They absolutely freaking did it.

I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have gone to bed in utter disbelief that the Washington Capitals blew another game or another series, making me stay up for multiple overtimes deep into the night only to crush my sportsfan soul (anyone who saw Pat LaFontaine score that goal in the 4th overtime for the Islanders in 1987 knows what I'm talking about). So when there was less than a second to go and it was apparent the Caps would win, it got a little dusty in here.

Some of it was the realization that two-thirds of my life has gone by waiting for this (I started following them in my 20s. I’m now in my 60s). Some was for others who suffered as much or more than me with this team and didn’t get to see it. Guys like Glenn Brenner, George Michael or Jim Vance. Those guys howled at all the unexpected misses and losses every year and still came back the next season proclaiming this would be the year. They’re all gone now.

Some of it was the respect and happiness for Alex Ovechkin, who has done just about everything in his 13 years in Washington EXCEPT win a title. As much as I wanted to see this happen for Washington sports fans, I wanted to see this more for Ovechkin. When the game was over, players from Las Vegas embraced him as an elder statesman of their sport, much the same way teams lined up to shake the hand of Dale Earnhardt when he finally won the Daytona 500 after so many misses. They knew Ovi deserved it. And were happy for him.

Some of it was watching an interview with T.J. Oshie, talking about his father and his battle with Alzheimers. I lost my father-in-law to that terrible disease 12 years ago, and I can tell you from experience that you wonder every day if the day will be a good day or a bad day when it comes to remembering things. T.J. was in tears explaining how special it was to have his Dad there at the game, hoping the memory would be powerful enough to last the rest of his days.  

“He doesn't remember a lot of stuff these days,” Oshie said, wiping away tears. “He remembers enough. But I tell you what. He's here tonight - I don't know where he's at - but this one will stick with him forever, you can guarantee that.”

The room got even dustier after that.

But the moment I’ve really been waiting to see is the Commissioner of the NHL – Gary Bettman – handing Lord Stanley’s trophy to Ovechkin, imagining he would hold it high, bursting with pride as he showcased it around the ice. He didn’t disappoint, adding a few primal screams and kissing the Cup before handing it off to the guy who has waited just about as long as he has, Nick Backstrom. It was Ovi’s time to shine, but also the time to face all of his critics and say “I finally got this. Now bite me.”

The chase has been so long I have many times said I just wanted to see them win a Cup before I died. Mike Harris, who is an editor at The Athletic, is the same age as I and he has also said the same expression many times. When the Cup was finally hoisted, I tweeted at him “does this mean starting tomorrow that we might, um, oh never mind.” Mike, ever the expert wordsmith, replied with the perfect answer.

“I hope not,” he typed back. “But if I do, I do with a smile.”

I can live with that.

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D-Day Is More Than Just A Historical Footnote To Me

To some, today is a footnote in history. A day on the beaches of Normandy 74 years ago when an event codenamed Operation Overlord was launched, beginning what many say was the beginning of the end of World War II.

D-Day.

It will always be more than history to me, because in that first wave was a 21-year-old Private First Class from Henry County, VA by the name of Allen Homer Sink. He would survive that initial wave, participate in battle until it ended in August, then come home to marry and raise a family of four, including two daughters after the war ended.

He would also become my father-in-law until his death in 2006.

His nickname for some reason was “Hank” and when I asked him how he got it, he said some guy in the Army said he “looked like a Hank.” From the time I first met him, he was a salt-of-the-earth man who was never afraid of anything. He was a carpenter by trade, and he’d stand up on the tallest roofs, grab bumblebees with his bare hands when they tried to persuade him to move elsewhere, and never be bothered by anything.

His hands were tough and leathery, but he was a softie. He spoiled his children, complained when my mother-in-law would gripe about something involving one of his alleged misdeeds, and always thought he was fooling everybody when he snuck around the back of the house and lit a cigarette, a habit everyone opposed but he could never part himself from.

He could talk your ear off for hours at a time, and I always suggested he become a greeter at Wal-Mart when he retired because then he could talk all day to strangers and none of them would – like his wife and daughters often did – tell him to be quiet for a few moments. Yet for all his love of talking, there was one subject he just wouldn’t discuss.

June 6, 1944. Omaha Beach.

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