One of the most prolific running backs in Sooner history, Joe Washington answered the call for his alma mater once again, returning to Norman to serve as special assistant to the director of athletics/executive director of the Varsity O Association in May 2007. Washington, who ended his Sooner career as the all-time leading rusher in school history, returned to Norman after living and working in the Washington, D.C. area for a number of years.
In his position with the department, Washington will lead the efforts to reconnect the department with its former student-athletes as OU begins a number of outreach efforts. He also will have other administrative duties.
Washington's Sooner career was a record-setter. He finished with 4,071 yards rushing and was a consensus All-American in 1974. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting that year after helping the Sooners win a national title. He was named the NCAA Football Player of the Year and the Washington, D.C., Player of the Year in 1974. After helping OU win another national title in 1975, Washington again earned All-America honors and finished fifth in Heisman voting.
His rushing total now ranks second all-time and he is ranked third on the career touchdown list. In 2006, Washington was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame.
The San Diego Chargers made him the fourth pick of the 1976 NFL draft. He played in the NFL for 10 years with the majority of his career as a Washington Redskin. He was named Washington's most valuable player in 1981. He was also named one of the 70 greatest Redskin players in franchise history.
In 1986, following his professional football career, Washington worked for companies bearing his name when he opened Washington Consultants and Advertising. He has been very involved in charitable organizations, volunteering his time with the Maryland Special Olympics and serving as chairman of the Arundel County Association for Retarded Children. He and Julius Erving were the first full-time owners of the first minority-owned racing car in the NASCAR Busch series.
He earned his degree in journalism from OU in 1976 and in 1994 he was named a distinguished alumni of the Gaylord College of Journalism.
He and his wife, Meadow Lark, have a grown daughter, Brandy.