The sudden passing of Chief Zee, Redskins superfan and unofficial mascot, has ripped a hole in the hearts of longtime fans.
Santana Moss remembers his chance first encounter with Zema Williams, a man he had come to know watching Redskins-Cowboys games long before ever donning the burgundy and gold himself.
“Growing up, if you was a fan of football and you watched Cowboy-Redskin games, you always saw him, and he was one of the guys that you saw the most,” Moss recalled to Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “Any time something was going on, it don’t matter where you’re at or where the game was played at, he was there.”
“When I got to Washington, he was one of the guys I wanted to meet,” he said. “And I’m like, I’m looking for him the first game, and I knew he was in the building, I just couldn’t find him.”
Moss hauled in five catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns in that Sept. 2005 game, his second as a Washington Redskin (though he considers it his first).
You may remember it as the Monday Night Miracle.
Dallas led 13-0 with six minutes remaining. Washington, facing an embarrassing defeat in the home of their archrivals, needed to get something going, quick.
On fourth-and-15, from the Cowboys’ 39-yard line, and just under four minutes to play, Mark Brunell split two defenders in the end zone to find Moss for the Redskins’ first points of the game.
Washington’s defense — with the help of a key holding penalty against Dallas — was able to hold the line and force a punt. Washington got the ball back needing another touchdown with two minutes and 52 seconds on the clock and 80 yards to go.
Brunell hit Clinton Portis on a 10-yard pass, eating only eight seconds. On the second play of the drive, Brunell saw Moss streaking down the center of the field in one-on-one coverage, and connected for a 70-yard bomb. Moss marched through the back of the end zone, where he found a familiar figure waiting to share a warm embrace.
“That night, what a way to meet him: in the back of that end zone,” Moss said.
Washington withstood two more Dallas drives to win 14-13.
“That was my first time actually meeting him, in that game,” Moss said. “Ever since then, we shared a bond.”
“I always felt like when I saw him he just lit up the room,” Moss said. “He always showed so much love for whatever Redskin it was. It didn’t matter who he was, what name he was. He just showed so much heart and compassion for our team, so it’s going to be tough, man, for the fans, and for all the guys who know Chief.”
“I was just telling him I’ll be around this year, so I was looking forward to seeing him out there at the games and just rooting us on. My condolences go out to his family, and I know they’re dealing with it, as well as the Redskins Nation, and the Redskins fan base is taking it as hard as I did.”
Moss was fortunate to catch up with Chief Zee several months ago.
“Me and him shared a little moment about that game,” he said. Chief Zee told Moss he would never forget that night in Dallas. “I said, ‘I’ll never forget it.’ Just for what that game meant to the city, but just meeting him in that moment. I wanted to meet him and I met him in that moment.”
“Aw, man, he’s gonna be missed, man. But, you know, life goes on and I know his spirit and I know he’ll be watching down on us.”