- - Monday, August 16, 2021

Jamin Davis was the No. 1 pick of the Washington Football Team in the 2021 NFL draft. There are high expectations for the linebacker out of Kentucky.

If he is fortunate, he will have the career of Washington’s seventh-round draft pick in 1979 out of Penn State.

Rich Milot passed away last week at the age of 64, leaving several generations of Washington football teammates in mourning.

Milot joined the team during the final days of the Over the Hill Gang and then flourished in the Joe Gibbs era,  a key part of the defense in 121 games — he was a starter in 91 of them — and appearing in three Super Bowls, winning two of them.

Yes, if Jamin Davis can look back at a career with 121 games and two Super Bowl rings, he will have more than fulfilled the expectations.

Milot may have been the best seventh-round pick in franchise history.

“I didn’t know much about (Washington Football) except for the Over the Hill Gang,” Milot told me in an interview for “Hail Victory,” my oral history of the team, That was mostly an entirely veteran team when I got there, and old. They harassed me and did the typical rookie things.

“The guy who did it the most was Diron Talbert,” Milot said. “He would tease you the most, but it was all in good humor. They were a great bunch of guys. Kenny Houston stuck out to me as one of the leaders He didn’t say much, but you could sense the respect and the work ethic involved.”

From Kenny Houston to Darrell Green, two Hall of Fame defensive teammates, Milot played with both.

“One of the things that stands out to me was the talent level when I got there compared to the talent level when I left (1987),” he said. “It was much higher when I left. There was a dramatic change over that period. I remember walking into the locker room as a rookie, and half these guys are smoking cigarettes … it was not like that when I left. Guys were more into working out and taking care of their bodies, and I don’t think anybody on the team smoked when I left. It was an absolute total change.”

That 1979 team, when he was a rookie, won 10 games but missed the playoffs as a result of that painful season-ending 35-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

“There were some high expectations on that team, but it was disappointing not to make the playoffs, winning 10 games,” Milot said. “I don’t know what went wrong the last year. We could have won some games that we lost.”

Milot’s first coach was Jack Pardee.

“We always thought there was a power struggle between (general manager) Bobby Beathard and Jack Pardee,” Milot said. “The year before, he was coach of the year, and then getting fired the next year, it had to be some type of power struggle. Pardee was a good head coach, but I don’t think he had a good staff under him. They were veteran assistant coaches, but they weren’t teachers.”

That 1980 final year for Pardee, of course, was marked by the absence of running back John Riggins, who went home to Kansas and sat out the season in a contract dispute.

“What was funny was that the year he sat out, he would come to some of the games,” Milot said. “He came to the St. Louis game. He would come with a couple of his friends.”

Then came Joe Gibbs, who, to Milot, like many on that 1981 team, was a mystery.

“I had no idea who Joe Gibbs was when he came there,” Milot said. “He brought a lot of teachers with him on the staff, like Larry Peccatiello, my linebackers coach, he was a teacher. That was important for some of us.

“When we started out 0-5 that year, there was no panic or dissension,” Milot said. “We had a great group of guys. More than anything, that is what you need. I don’t know how you do that, maybe luck more than anything. We kept plugging and it turned itself around. That helped us, the tightness and cohesion of the team, during those strike years in 1982 and 1987. We were known for being a tight unit throughout the league. I can only think of one person the whole time I was there that I didn’t like. I’m not going to tell you who that was. But to have hundreds of people play there over the years, and only have one guy you didn’t like, that is a pretty special group of guys.”

Rich Milot was part of that special group of guys.

Hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

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