The Redskins play in the NFC East along with their three fierce rivals the Dallas Cowboys, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants.
The Redskins have played in the NFL since 1932. They’ve won two NFL Championships and three Super Bowls. As of 2008, they’ve made 22 playoff appearances.
The Redskins are the league’s second most valuable franchise (behind the Cowboys) with an estimated price tag of more than $1.5 billion. The Redskins are the NFL’s top earning team. In 2007, the franchise grossed a league best $327 million, not surprising since the Redskins annually break their own single-season attendance record.
The Redskins, owned by George Preston Marshall, entered the league as the Boston Braves. Their inaugural team of 1932 featured two hall of famers, Cliff Battles and Turk Edwards.
After playing in Braves Field for a year, the team moved to Fenway Park and changed their name to the Redskins. The change of scenery and the new nickname did nothing to help attendance. With Boston fans seemingly indifferent to the Redskins, Marshall packed up his team and moved them to Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C.
The Redskins first year in the nation’s capital was also the rookie year of their exciting new quarterback from TCU, “Slingin’ Sammy” Baugh.
During that time in the NFL, the forward pass had yet to develop into the offensive weapon it is today. The forward pass was generally used in desperate situations at the end of a game when a team was trailing.
Baugh would change all that. He’s often credited with making the forward pass an important part of a team’s offense.
Baugh played his entire career, all 16 seasons, with the Redskins. He was selected to five All-Star teams, seven All-Pro first-teams, and was two-time NFL Player of the Year.
During his illustrious career, Baugh threw 187 touchdowns and complied 21,886 passing yards. He’s an inaugural inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team.
Besides being the preeminent quarterback of his day, Baugh was also a punter and a defensive back. When he finally walked away from the game “Slingin’ Sammy” held 13 NFL records.
Baugh led the Redskins to NFL Championships in 1937 and 1942. His teams lost championship games in 1940, 1942, 1943 and 1945. During this impressive run, the Redskins played the Chicago Bears four times with the championship on the line. This includes the Bears’ 73-0 drubbing of the Redskins in 1940—the most lopsided victory in NFL history.
After losing 15-16 to the Los Angeles Rams in the 1945 title game, the Redskins would struggle on the field for more than two decades. The problem was Marshall’s refusal to integrate his team.
Finally, after the U.S. government threatened to kick the Redskins out of RFK Stadium, Marshall lifted his band on African-American players. The year was 1962.
The Redskins drafted Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy, but traded him for wide receiver Bobby Mitchell. Davis would die from leukemia without ever playing a down in the NFL. Mitchell would go on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Redskins also acquired other black players like future hall of fame wide receiver Charley Taylor, running back Larry Brown, and defensive back Brig Owens.
With the team finally integrated, Sonny Jurgensen under center, and Sam Huff roaming the field as linebacker the Redskins became more popular than ever. They didn’t win many games, but they certainly won the hearts of football fans in the D.C. area.
In 1969, the Redskins hired legendary coach Vince Lombardi. He directed the team to a respectable 7-5-2 record. Sadly, the namesake of the Super Bowl trophy died of cancer shortly before the 1970 season.
Also passing away during this time was the team’s owner George Preston Marshall. Upon his death, the team was sold to attorney Edward Bennett Williams.
The Redskins of the 1970’s were highlighted by head coach George Allen and his “Over-the-Hill Gang.” Allen preferred veterans to rookies and young players so much so that he adopted the slogan “the future is now.”
One of the most colorful head coaches in football history, Allen’s rampant paranoia convinced him that his practices were being watched by other teams. To prevent someone from stealing his plays, he hired a full time security guard to patrol the Redskins’ practice facility for spies.
Allen popularized the 16-hour work day for NFL coaches. And in order to save time, Allen would often dine on ice cream or peanut butter because it was quick and easy to eat.
Hi-jinks aside, Allen was a great coach who led the Redskins to Super Bowl VII. While his team played well they did eventually lose to the undefeated Miami Dolphins, 14-7.
In Allen’s seven years as head coach of the Redskins, his team made the post season five times.
In 1981, Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke (he became majority owner in 1974) hired a new coach that would forever change the history of the franchise. That coach was former offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, Joe Gibbs.
Gibbs would coach the Redskins for 16 seasons and lead them to wins in Super Bowl XVII (1982), Super Bowl XXII (1987) and Super Bowl XXVI (1991). He won four NFC Championships, made 10 playoff appearances, and was twice named Coach of the Year.
In his two stints with the Redskins (1981-1992 and 2004-2008), Gibbs had just three losing seasons.
Perhaps Gibbs’ greatest accomplishment was winning three championships with such a diverse group of players.
His first two Super Bowl appearances featured quarterback Joe Theismann, running back John Riggins and receiver Art Monk—all three are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In Super Bowl XVII, Riggins produced one of those memorable moments that have been immortalized by NFL Films. The play was called “70 Chip.” It was intended to move the sticks on a crucial 4th and inches play, but Riggins wasn’t keen on just gaining a yard or two. He rumbled all the way into the end zone for the go ahead touchdown.
The Redskins had the lead for good and eventually defeated the Miami Dolphins 27-17. Due to the strike-shorten season, the playoffs leading up to the big game featured 16 teams (eight from each conference) and no byes.
Super Bowl XXII featured African-American Doug Williams under center for the Redskins. Williams would become the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl, perhaps somewhat vindicating the Redskins for being the last team to integrate.
Williams’ name is often involved in one of the Super Bowl’s greatest myths. Legend has it that a reporter asked Williams, “How long have you been a black quarterback?” That wasn’t what Bob Kravitz of the Rocky Mountain News actually asked Williams, but it was what the quarterback misheard.
Also in that game, the Redskins posted the largest come-from-behind victory in Super Bowl history. They were trailing 10-0 in the first quarter to the Denver Broncos and rallied to win 42-10.
The Redskins scored 42 points in the second quarter. Thanks in large part to Williams throwing four touchdown passes. Another milestone from that game was rookie running back Timmy Smith rushing for a Super Bowl record 204 yards.
Gibbs won his third and final Super Bowl with yet another starting quarterback, Mark Rypien. Voted MVP of the Super Bowl XXVI, Rypien led his team to a 37-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
One fixture common to all of Joe Gibbs’ Super Bowl winning teams was his offensive line. They were so good that they had their own nickname, “The Hogs.”
This large and athletic group dominated the line the scrimmage for nearly a decade. Originally, “The Hogs” were center Jeff Bostic, guards Russ Grimm and Mark May, and tackles Joe Jacoby and George Starke. The tight ends Don Warren and Rick Walter were also included. Riggins was an honorary Hog.
Starke and Walter were around for the first Super Bowl win while May left the team in 1990 and missed out on a third championship ring. Bostic, Grimm, Jacoby, and Warren were together for all three championships.
These behemoths became so popular that they inspired “The Hogettes,” a group of men who attend Redskins games dressed in drag while wearing plastic pig snouts. Their sobriety is highly questioned.
After one more season in Washington, Gibbs would leave the Redskins and eventually own a very successful NASCAR team. Gibbs would return to coach the Redskins in 2004.
In 1997, the very popular Jack Kent Cooke (who became sole owner of the team in 1985) died. He left the team to his foundation who eventually sold it to Daniel Snyder in May of 1999 for $800 million.
The same year Cooke passed away the Redskins moved into their new home, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. Its naming rights were eventually sold by Snyder and now the stadium is called FedExField.
Snyder has been a controversial owner. Despite being a lifelong Redskins fans he has made some odd decisions (such as selling the naming rights to the stadium). Under his relatively short watch, the team has employed six head coaches. This list includes legendary college coach Steve Spurrier who at best floundered in the NFL.
As of 2013, the Redskins head coach is former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn.
Synder has also paid big money for big names in the twilight of their careers like Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders and Mark Brunell. He’s also signed huge checks for over-hyped players like Adam Archuleta, Brandon Lloyd, DeAngelo Hall and Albert Haynesworth.
The Redskins are one of only two NFL teams with an official marching band. They often play “Hail to the Redskins,” the team’s fight song.
The name Redskins has been the target of several activist groups who claim the appellation is disrespectful to Native Americans. However polls have indicated that the overwhelming majority of American Indians find the name acceptable.