“Redskins Past To Present” is a new series for The Redskins Blog during the offseason that catches up with Redskins alumni – some famous, some forgotten – that have spent time, long and short, in the Redskins organization.
With their time removed from the game, we hope to highlight the many former players and coaches that once wore the burgundy and gold — we’ll talk about their memories, their experiences and what they’re up to today, in no particular order, to give a snapshot of their lives as ex-football players.
Dexter Manley, a Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion with the Redskins, spent nine seasons in Washington, making an indelible mark on the franchise. He eventually joined the team’s Redskins Ring of Fame and holds the franchise mark for most sacks (91). He has overcome many battles in his life – chronicled most recently in an NFL Films documentary – and currently works in property management for CE Construction, making his home in the Washington, D.C. metro area.
The Redskins Blog: The last time I spoke with you was at the premiere of your “A Football Life” documentary. What was the reaction from people who had seen the documentary?
Dexter Manley: It was really overwhelming. A lot of people supported me. A lot of people cannot necessarily identify with the struggle but, at some point in their life some family member or whatever, they can identify with a lot of my misfortunes. They’re supportive and I appreciate that. I’m grateful for the appreciation, seeing the documentary and not being so critical. And so I’m just real thankful for the National Football League for all of my journeys, good and bad.
Was there a certain player or teammate who reached out that was special to you?
Yes. Earl Campbell called me. I had a nice long talk with Earl Campbell. And I talked with John Riggins and that’s about it. Talked a little bit with Darryl Grant. They were very supportive, especially Earl Campbell and John Riggins. I though they showed a lot of support. But a lot of people could identify because in all of our lives we have some changes. Some more public, some not so public. But I think they could identify with my story and what I’ve gone through and the fact that I’ve overcome all of them.
You’re going to be inducted into the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame this summer. How did you feel upon that announcement?
I’m appreciative. I know that I’ve gone through the rain, the wind and the storm and a lot of people don’t necessarily want to acknowledge you when you have some dark days. But in my core, I’m a great guy. People recognized that, so I’m appreciative of the D.C. Sports committee for acknowledging me and voting me in. I think they waited a little too long [laughing].
When you look back on your time winning two Super Bowls, is there a story you haven’t told anybody about winning them?
Well, we beat the Miami Dolphins [in 1983], and we were staying in Costa Mesa, [Calif.] but we left and went out to Pasadena and stayed at a hotel. And after that game, a lot of national media wanted to get me to come on some good morning shows and things of that nature. Bryant Gumbel wanted me on his show. But 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, it was Joe Jacoby and me, [the] Limo took us to Burbank. And then we went on top of a building and a helicopter – we were flying in the city of Los Angeles to be on “The Today Show.” I thought that was the neatest thing. I had never flown in a helicopter before, that was my first time flying in a helicopter over Los Angeles, myself and Joe Jacoby.
Were you good friends with Joe?
No, we were teammates and that was it. They picked Jake and they picked myself.
You played in Canada at the end of your career. What was that experience like at a time before the sport had really begun to grow?
It’s just not the same, but I have a lot of respect for their tenacity. They really wanted to have a bigger better sport than the National Football League, but they just didn’t have the personnel, didn’t have the athletes. It was a different game. I appreciate the opportunity that the Canadians gave me and particularly the owner of the Rough Riders. It had a great fan base in Ottawa, which I liked living in Ottawa. It was a very nice town. I made some good friends there and I had a good time…I started writing a column every Thursday in the paper [The Sun]. Another guy sort of helped me write the column.
I would be talking about the football team, Ottawa, and different stuff, the district of Ottawa, go around town, and things that I saw.
What’s a typical day for Dexter Manley like?
I’m in business development. I work out 5-6 days a week. Monday through Friday, I usually go to bed about 7:30, sometimes 8 o’clock. I get up about 2:30 a.m. and I watch the world news. I listen to gospel music. I leave my house at about 4:15, wait for my wife to come down. I take off in my car at 4:30. Head to the gym downtown and I work out about an hour and 15 minutes. That’s pretty much it. Come back and get ready to go to work.
So do you watch any sports going to bed so early?
My wife [Lydia] stays up mostly. She’ll watch all of Monday Night Football because I have to get up and go work out. That’s my routine. I don’t let that interfere me with anything. She’s my eyes and ears. She tells me what’s going on…Lydia’s a big football sports fanatic. She really should have her own show. She’s really insightful on sports, particularly football. She knows what offensive guard does, she knows what the cornerback does. She’s been around football her whole life, her father was a football player.
What does Dexter Manley do for fun when he has a free day?
I go to the movies, I spend a lot of time with my wife. I talk to my grandkids a lot. And more importantly, I just have fun and I stay prayed up.
What movie have you seen recently that you like?
Last time I went to the movies I fell asleep after I ate the popcorn, [but] I saw “Concussion.” It was a good movie. Lydia really liked it. I think people should pay attention to it. The NFL should start settling some cases because they’re sitting on their hands and not settling cases and that’s a little disturbing to me. I’ve had two brain surgeries…some days I have good days, some days I have bad days. But it’s all about God’s grace that I’m still standing.