In the sports world, John Riggins may be best known for his 43-yard, go-ahead touchdown run in Super Bowl XVII to seal a Washington Redskins victory and earn himself the games MVP trophy. But on the Hill, Riggo is likely remembered for a single phrase: Loosen up, Sandy baby.
The NFL Hall of Famer uttered the infamous words 25 years ago this month at the National Press Club Foundations annual dinner. The recipient: Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day OConnor.
This occasion changed the course of western civilization, Riggins quipped in an interview with HOH. I think what were talking about here is what Ill be remembered for much longer than being an MVP.
Theres been some confusion this past quarter-century about the specifics, so lets clear the air. Heres how it went down, according to the man himself: Riggins, surrounded by the Beltway crowd, said he felt a bit nervous and out of his league. So to loosen up himself, he had a few double scotches and chased that with several glasses of wine all on an empty stomach. As he was chatting up then-Virginia Gov. Chuck Robb, Riggo noticed his tablemate OConnor and her late husband, John, getting up to leave.
It got to that point, when someone is trying to leave a party, we all say, Oh come on, stay a little longer, he recalls. Thats the spirit it was meant in.
Riggins said he has the utmost respect for the glass-ceiling-shattering justice. He even considers her a friend. And there doesnt seem to be any hard feelings on her end, he said. They met again a few years ago.
I was already thinking that this is going to be on my tombstone, and thats what she said to me, he said. Were linked together for life, which is good for me, but not so good for her.
Another misconception: That Riggo passed out during a speech by then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. While he readily admits sleeping through the speech, it wasnt Bush that put him out, but rather the nights master of ceremonies.
It was Sam [Donaldson]. He was so boring. I couldnt take it, Riggins said. I went down like a chunk when he was talking.
Heres hoping this years dinner, scheduled for Feb. 10, will provide even a fraction of that kind of drama.
Members of Congress: Just Like Us. House Minority Leader John Boehner is a busy man, maintaining a packed schedule as a top leader of the Republican Party. But it seems even he couldnt get out of a trip to the dreaded dentists office last week.
An HOH spy eyed the Ohio Republican sitting quietly in the waiting room of the Capitol Hill Dental Group on Thursday morning, presumably in anticipation of his turn in the dentists chair. Theres no word on what specifically Boehner was doing at the tooth doctor, as a spokesman declined comment although HOH wondered whether the longtime smoker had an appointment to get his teeth whitened.
A Match Made in ... Trenton? Unlike, say, Snooki or The Situation from Jersey Shore, Senate staffers Michael Pagan and Yasmin Yaver are two New Jersey-ites who are happy in love.
Pagan, press secretary for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), popped the question last week to Yaver, senior policy adviser for Hispanic affairs to Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).
The Garden State power couple was out for a jog Wednesday when the crafty Pagan steered them toward the picturesque National Cathedral grounds, he tells HOH. He faked a cramp and pulled over to a park bench, where he presented a ring to his very surprised girlfriend.
The two met Senate-cute back in 2007, when they both played for the combined Menendez-Lautenberg softball team.
And as if the ring on Yavers finger wasnt enough proof of the couples commitment, heres another, more modern, sign: She changed her status on Facebook, Pagan says.
The happy twosome hasnt set a date, but theyre thinking about a destination wedding, possibly in the Caribbean ... sometime when the Senate is in recess.
Paging the Grammar Police. Astute HOH readers surely remember that last week we dished about a new series of writing clinics designed to help Senate staffers with their commas, plurals and commonly confused words. And HOH admits we poked a tad bit of fun, noting that there are some sophisticated, well-educated (and
coughsnobbycough) Congressional aides out there who need help with verb usage.
But as it turns out, at least one Senator has put in a call to the grammar police.
Shortly after the item ran, HOH heard from a tipster who pointed out a sign located by a telephone near the Senate subway heading from the Capitol to the Senate office buildings reading, in part:
POLICE & SENATORS ONLY
Punctuation-wise, the sign makes it appear that the phone is only for one Senator or a person named Senator.
HOH hears the sign has aggravated the grammar-conscious Senator, whose staff has tried (in vain) for years to figure out how to go about getting it fixed.
Wondering who that Senator is? We arent telling but just keep an eye out for the guy or gal carrying around a dog-eared copy of The Elements of Style.
Overheard on the Hill. Its nice to know a Republican governor [who] when he goes hiking, he doesnt go to the Appalachian Trail.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), taking a jab at infamous South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford during the Marijuana Policy Projects anniversary gala on Jan. 13. Cohen spoke after former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R).
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Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.