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February 24, 2015

What’s in a Name? Here’s the ‘Skinny’

Harry M. Covert

It is time to put to rest – to bed – all of the hullabaloo, gibberish and nonsense about the Redskins name in the National Football League and any place else for that matter.


All the people who run around acting like they are offended is pure and unadulterated hogwash, first class. There are lots of things in which to be offended, but Washington’s name business is not one of them. Actually the Redskins practice in Ashburn, Virginia; they play in Landover (formerly RalJon), Maryland, and market themselves as Washington, northeast, southeast, west – or what-have- you,


Let’s get down to business here. Those who have nothing else to do but squawk and beat the drums for silliness can be assured that all of their lip-biting or other visions of upset are for naught.


The Redskins played their very very first game in Frederick, MD, upon their transfer from Yankeeland – Boston. Supposedly the name was a marketing ploy by George Preston Marshall, the Washington, DC, laundering magnate who, quite frankly, brought the team from obscurity and near financial ruin to the “nation’s capital.”


Confession may be worth something at this spot. Before the days of non-stop sports events on television screens and when Sunday family meals were heavily practiced, football lovers could watch one day from Washington south. In my days I enjoyed the Sunday afternoons watching the Redskins and Eddie LeBaron, then known as the “Field General,” the late great Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, a dazzling runner, and among them one of my all-time favorites, Bill Dudley, the college and professional player known as Bullet Bill. There were others.


Rick Snider, a Maryland man, is The Expert on Redskins history. He is a distinguished columnist and author. His latest book is “100 Things Redskins Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die." This 282-page history is a grand read front to back.


A quick survey among Frederick County locals didn’t provide any names of those who attended that first game on September 6, 1937, when the Washington Redskins defeated the American Legion All-Stars 50-0 at McCurdy Field. Mr. Marshall, the promoter, said 2,500 attended that game. Others, a sportswriter of the day, suggested maybe otherwise. Nowadays the attendance is around the 80-90,000 mark and other amenities.


Mr. Snider points out the Frederick game was necessary since the old Griffith Stadium in Washington was occupied by the Senators, who were known as “first in war, first in peace and last in the American League.”


McCurdy Field was torn down and rebuilt in 1974. It was home to the Frederick Keys baseball team as well as the Frederick Hustlers and Warriors.


One of my all-time favorite Redskin players is Norman Snead. He was a high school all-state player at Warwick High School in Newport News, my hometown. He starred at Wake Forest and was selected by the Redskins. He played there from 1961-63 when he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for Sonny Jorgensen. The latter played a decade. He announces today.


Author Snider has all kinds of great facts. The Redskins almost became the Dallas Redskins.


Redskins-dom is no stranger to Frederick even today. A Sunday grocery store visit saw a couple shopping for milk, bread and, you know the rest. Husband was arrayed in Redskins’ hat, shirt, pants and running shoes. Wifey was attired in Redskins shirt and pants and wristwatch. Nice team. This is not unusual even when the Baltimore Ravens have performed much better in recent years in the won-loss departments and even a Super Bowl.


Old-timers, though, maintain a close affinity to the Redskins.


Was the first true Redskins’ Indian player a Sioux?


Mr. Snider’s tidbits are terrific. He tells exactly how Jim Zorn got his first coaching job in the National Football League. How the fabled Joe Gibbs was almost fired by Jack Kent Cooke after three straight losses. How the Redskins 70-0 loss was almost 90-0 in the 1940 World Championship game.


Remember John Riggins’ famous dinner with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; how the Redskins’ cheerleaders were formed; and the Redskins’ Marching Band; or who really was the very first Redskins’ black player?


But, back to the nickname, the honest and true naming of the team. The team wasn’t named in honor of Native American Indians. Mr. Snider ends the myth at the start in Chapter One, Page One.


So, when all of the social commentators and generally those “who don’t know jack”, Rick Snider has the facts, just as he does when covering the football wars of today.


Okay, sports fans would like to know the most successful ‘Skins coach in the history of the franchise? Nope, not Joe Gibbs, not Vince Lombardi. Buy the book.


I recommend a signed copy. Link to:


Yellow Cab
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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