Let me start off by saying I am not one of these politically correct people that thinks just because someone is offended by a name that it (the possibly offensive name) should be changed. I am the owner of some common sense though, and while reading about deceased Redskins owner George Preston Marshall, I was totally appalled by the way this man treated minorities.
I have changed my mind after reading about the history of the Washington Redskins. I will now present my evidence on why the Redskins should do the same with their name. Here is what I have discovered that sickened me to no end.
The Origin of the Washington Redskins
The Redskins started out in Boston as the Boston Braves. In 1933 they moved into Fenway Park. George Preston Marshall, the Redskins owner, named Lone Star Dietz his new coach that year. To honor his coach, he named the Braves the Redskins. After reading this part I was still a firm believer that the Redskins name should remain.
My mind started to change when I found out that to “honor” Dietz, Marshall forced the coach and all the players to wear war paint and act out so-called Indian war dances on the field. What makes this even worse, if it can get worse, is the fact that Marshall found this all to be hilariously funny. Now my mind was changing in a big way. Basically, for his own amusement, Marshall embarrassed and humiliated his players and coach.
Everyone thought that coach Dietz was an Indian. But was he? It’s very possible he wasn’t.
Banning African American Players from the NFL in the Early 1930’s
People forget that before 1933, African Americans played in the NFL. That same year, seemingly overnight, African American players disappeared from the field of battle. Nobody seemed to know why. For decades afterward, none of the games celebrated founding owners—George Halas of Chicago, Tim Mara of New York, Art Rooney of Pittsburgh, Tex Schramm of Los Angeles—would ever admit that there’d been a pact. Hell, they wouldn’t even admit that there had been a meeting!
So to some extent, it is speculation that Marshall was the reason for the sudden agreement to get rid of African American players. But in a 1942 interview, Marshall said that if black players were allowed to participate, Smith (a professor at Nichols College in Massachusetts) writes, “white players, especially those from the South, would go to extremes to physically disable them,” so they were kept off the field in their own best interests. The other evidence that Marshall was the reason for this ban is the simple fact that as soon as he got to the NFL the ban took effect.
Marshall was great at creating spectacles
This is obvious when you know that he dressed his head coach up in a feather headdress and war paint. He hired cheerleaders and was the first professional owner to have a marching band. And of course there’s the Washington fight song, “Hail to the Redskins.”
The words to “Hail to the Redskins” can make one squeamish when seen in writing.
Hail to the Redskins,
Braves on the Warpath,
Fight for Old D.C.!…
Scalp ‘um, swamp ‘um, we will take’um big score….
This man loved racist spectacles so much that he proposed to his wife with a backdrop of the song, “Carry Me Back to Ol’ Virginny” sung by black singers. Want some words to that song? How about this (“Massa and Missus have long since gone before me / Soon we will meet on that bright and golden shore”). The Redskins Band was under direct orders from Marshall to play Dixie before they played the Star Spangled Banner in the 1960s.
Marshall was the last owner in the NFL to integrate his team
The Redskins were not a very good team. For lack of a better word, they sucked. A lot of the reason for the Redskins ineptitude was Marshall’s reluctance to select African American players. The team passed consistently on players like Jim Brown, and Jim Parker in favor of white players who invariably didn’t work out.
Redskins integrate for a New Stadium
What finally got the Redskins integrated was Marshall’s need for a new stadium. The land he wanted was Federal land. So in short, Marshall integrated because the Kennedy administration would only allow him the land and a new stadium if he agreed to sign African American players. A new stadium is what got him to come to his senses. It wasn’t because he had changed his mind and decided that he was wrong the whole time. In fact, even after his death, Marshall was still a racist.
Racism after death
After he died, Marshall’s racism could still be felt. Marshall passed away in 1969 and of course, he left some money to his children, but the bulk of his estate was to be used to set up a foundation in his name. Marshall left a directive in his will that the foundation should not direct a single dollar toward “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.” This was in 1969, not 1869. Even after death, Marshall was nothing more than a racist.
Daniel Snyder needs to do something
I am pretty sure Redskins current owner Daniel Snyder knows his team’s infamous history. The Redskins, in my opinion, would be alright using the Redskins nickname if the name was being used to honor Native Americans. But this is clearly not the reason. The history of the name proves this.
In closing, change the Redskins nickname and while we are at it, how about removing George Preston Marshall from the Hall of Fame. Marshall was a horrible owner. His teams seldom won so why is he in the hall? If Snyder does nothing about this, it will confirm what kind of man he is.