The Washington Redskins are a National Football League team based in Ashburn, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. .
- Founded: 1932
- Formerly known as: Boston Braves 1932, Boston Redskins 1933-1936
- Home stadium: FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland (1997-)
- Head coach: Joe Gibbs (2004-) (Previously coached from 1981-1992)
- Uniform colors: Burgundy and Gold
- Helmet design: The main helmet is burgundy, with white and gold trim. It has a Native American profile on the sides
There is considerable controversy over the team's name. Some Native American groups have called for a new name, and some newspapers in the United States have refused to call the team by their name, instead using such circumlocutions as "The Washington football team". This is not the first racial controversy in which the team has been involved. Former owner George Preston Marshall resisted integrating the team, which had no black players from its inception through 1961. However, the Redskins became the first NFL team to field a black starting quarterback in a Super Bowl game, Doug Williams, in the 1988 Super Bowl XXII.
The Boston years
The city of Boston was awarded an NFL franchise in 1932, under the ownership of George Preston Marshall. On the heels of Marshall's entry to the National Football League, and evidently influenced by his racial policies, the other NFL teams dropped all black players in 1933 and none signed blacks again until 1946.
While in Boston, the team took the same name as one of the local baseball teams at the time, the Boston Braves. To help differentiate the two teams, Marshall changed the name of the football Braves to the Redskins. Both teams played at Braves Field until the Redskins moved to Fenway Park (home of the Boston Red Sox) in an attempt to boost attendance. The move was unsuccessful and attendance poor, so Marshall moved the team to Washington, D.C. in 1937.
The Redskins in Washington
Upon making the move, the team instantly won a title. They also signed an innovative rookie quarterback from Texas Christian University: future Pro Football Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh. In an era where the forward pass was rare, the Redskins used it as their primary method of gaining yards. Baugh also played numerous other positions, including cornerback and punter.
The team's early success endeared them to the fans of Washington, D.C. However, after Baugh's retirement, the Redskins began a slow decline. Marshall continued to refuse to integrate the team, despite pressure from the Washington Post and the Federal Government (a typical comment by Post writer Shirley Povich was "Cleveland Browns runner Jim Brown integrated the Redskins' end zone"). Under threat of civil rights legal action by the Kennedy administration, the team became the final pro football franchise to integrate, in 1962 when the Redskins signed future Hall of Famer and wide receiver Bobby Mitchell.
From 1961 to 1996 the Redskins played at RFK Stadium, named after civil rights activist and United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Even with Mitchell's addition, the Redskins were still not performing up to expectations. In 1969, the Redskins hired Vince Lombardi — who gained infamy coaching with the Green Bay Packers — to be their new head coach. Lombardi led the team to a 7-5-2 record, their best since 1955, but died of cancer after the season ended. Also in 1969, long time owner, and President Emeritus, George Preston Marshall died.
Two years later the team signed George Allen as their head coach. Allen helped to foster the team's rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys, which has turned into one of the NFL's most famous rivalries. The Redskins reached the NFC Conference Championship in 1973, defeating Dallas 33-3, only to lose to the undefeated Miami Dolphins 17-7 in Super Bowl VII.
In 1981, Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke signed the offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers, Joe Gibbs, as their head coach. He coached the team to four Super Bowls, winning their first title in 40 years. Gibbs' last Super Bowl (and the team's) was a victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI. Gibbs left in 1993 after 12 years of coaching with the Redskins to pursue interests in NASCAR.
The Snyder era
In 1997, owner Jack Kent Cooke died. His son, John Kent Cooke, was unable to pay the death duties for the business, and the team was later sold to Daniel Snyder in a deal that was the most expensive in sporting history. Snyder, who grew up as a Redskins fan and who made his money in cable television, has made many controversial moves since owning the team. The most controversial habits Snyder has practiced is the continuous hiring and firing of head coaches, first firing incumbent coach Norv Turner, firing replacement Marty Schottenheimer after only one season, and in 2002, hiring University of Florida head coach Steve Spurrier to replace Schottenheimer. After two mediocre years, Spurrier resigned after the 2003 season with three years left on his contract.
For the 2004 season, Snyder successfully lured former coach Joe Gibbs away from NASCAR to return as head coach. Snyder also expanded FedEx Field to a league-high capacity of 91,665 seats.
The Redskins are one of only two teams in the NFL with an official marching band. The other is the Baltimore Ravens, who revived the band of the city's former NFL team, the Baltimore Colts. The Redskins' band predates the Colts franchise by about 15 years. Also, the Redskins were the first team to have a fight song, "Hail to the Redskins."
As of 2004, Forbes Magazine values the franchise at over $1 billion, the highest in the NFL and of any U.S. sports franchise.
- Championships won:
League Championships: 1937, 1942; Super Bowl: 1982, 1987, 1991
- Super Bowl appearances:
VII (lost) vs. Miami Dolphins 14_7, XVII (won) vs. Miami Dolphins 27-17, XVIII (lost) vs. L.A. Raiders 38_9, XXII (won) vs. Denver Broncos 42-10, XXVI (won) vs. Buffalo Bills 37-24
Pro Football Hall of Famers:
- 33 Sammy Baugh
Note: Team policy since Baugh's retirement has been not to retire numbers. However, some are unofficially retired, like 9, Sonny Jurgensen's number. There is pressure on the Redskins to change this policy, or retire 28, Darrell Green's number.
Not to be forgotten: