Friday, October 2, 2009

Fight for Ol' DC!

The beloved Redskins currently stand at 1-2 after a defeat to the abysmal Lions…. Oh the Humanity! How can it be that a once dominant team has fallen so far? For me there is just one team and that is the Chicago Bears because they are the greatest and T formation and 1985 and Ditka and Monsters of the Midway. I need no elaboration. With that caveat, if there is one thing a Bears fan respects it is tradition—something that struggling Skins have aplenty.

Owner George Preston Marshall moved the team to Washington in 1937 after failing to draw fans in Boston. Head coach Ray Flaherty set out for Texas to recruit a young rookie quarterback out of TCU, Sammy Baugh for $8,000. In a time when the forward pass was used infrequently, Baugh was an odd choice for a quarterback, but his arm would change the way football was played, and he became known as Slingin’ Sammy. When the Redskins attended their first practice in Fairlawn Park in Anacostia, over a 1,000 fans showed up to cheer on their powerful linesmen. By August of 1937, the Redskins had their own volunteer marching band and even a fight song, “Hail to the Redskins” written by Marshall’s second wife and silent film star Corinne Griffith. Yet, Flaherty knew that the Redskin’s welcome would soon ware thin if they could not deliver out on the gridiron. Before the first game he told his team that if they wanted to keep their jobs they had to go out there and win.

And win they did, earning their first championship that season defeating the Bears at Wrigley Field 28-21. George “Papa Bear” Halas’s team did not take well to losing at home, and before long one the first NFL rivalries ignited. For the Redskins the success ’37 meant that Flaherty and his team had found a home.

As for the rivalry, payback came the following year later, when the Bears smashed the Redskins 31-7. After the game Halas commented to the Redskins, “That’s too bad, girlies…What say we all go down to the corner for a double banana split and a fistful of chocolate Ă©clairs?” Ouch. That’s harsh, Papa Bear.

The Redskins let their hatred simmer until they teams met again in 1940. Both teams struggled back and forth, when finally the Redskins claimed a 7-3 victory, won by an ankle tackle by running back Dick Todd, stopping the Bears at the one yard line. It was three weeks until the Championship game. Marshall predicted that should the Bears play the Redskins for the championship, they’d have to win big or not win at all. As if fated, the teams would indeed meet for the championship at Griffith Stadium (at Georgia Ave and W Street, NW). Taking Marshall’s words to heart the Bears unleashed a fury, ending the game with a 73-0 victory over the Redskins (who unlike the current Lions, were playing in the championship—the Redskins were no shabby team). The score still stands as the largest margin of victory in NFL history.

Admittedly, this has turned out to be biased posting on the prowess of the Chicago Bears, but I find myself incapable of singing the praises of another team. But cheer up Redskins fans you still have: 5 championships, 3 Superbowl titles, the NFL first marching band, and the first NFL fight song. So when times get tough, think about Slingin’ Sammy and the championship in 1937, and the later days with Coach Gibbs. You have tradition! Now get out there and beat your current rival the Cowboys, whom you play in seven weeks!

Sources: Redskins: A History of Washington’s Team.

Redskin’s Homepage.

Sports Encyclopedia.

1 comment:

  1. Good work, D. Could use some follow up on Riggins and the Hogettes, perhaps capped off by you singing Bear Down, Chicago Bears...