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George Preston Marshall and the dustbin of history

The Washington Redskins have clearly woken as much as the incontrovertible fact that their founder and former proprietor George Preston Marshall was a racist. They try to wipe out all proof of his existence.

After the metropolis abruptly determined it was value the value of getting rid of the monument to Marshall in entrance of RFK Stadium, the group introduced it was eradicating Marshall’s identify from the first stage of Ghost Town Field and as a substitute naming it for the late Bobby Mitchell, the Black famous person Marshall traded for when he was compelled by federal authorities combine the group — the final group in the NFL to take action.

Now the Redskins are eradicating Marshall’s identify from the Ring of Fame at the stadium and additionally taking it off the group’s history wall at Redskins Park.

Why cease there? Let’s dig him up and have Dan Snyder toss the bones into the Atlantic from his yacht in a Zoom-televised ceremony.

Where is George Preston Marshall buried? Romney, West Virginia. The identify of the cemetery? Indian Mound Cemetery.

Yes, that’s proper — Indian Mound Cemetery. Fate certain is humorous generally.

All that is still of Marshall is the identify that’s now, in the second of these instances, extra reviled than ever. Change that, and you possibly can name them the Washington Wokes.

Not so quick, although. New coach Ron Rivera — the new cultural chief of the group — informed Chicago radio station 670 The Score that “it’s all about the moment and the timing” on the subject of altering the group identify. He mentioned it was a “discussion for another time.”

Or, as enlightened defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio would possibly say, “Kiss My Ax.”

I discover it onerous to examine a extra well timed second than now to make the change. But for the second, the identify — like no matter is left of George Preston Marshall in the floor in West Virginia — stays.

For how lengthy, who is aware of? How lengthy earlier than he’s wiped completely from existence? Until then, listed here are maybe some last phrases about the man who based the most beloved sports activities franchise in the nation’s capital.

He was a racist, we all know that, and his reminiscence is deserving of all the scorn that comes his means. But let’s keep in mind he wasn’t the solely racist NFL proprietor. They have been all racists again in the 1930s and 1940s, conserving black gamers out of the league till Paul Brown compelled the integration of the professional soccer in the rival All-America Football Conference.

Marshall was the just one with a fan base the place racism was successfully a advertising instrument — the South. Until the Atlanta Falcons got here alongside in 1965, the Redskins have been the group of the South and bought themselves that means.

Of course, racism was additionally deep in Marshall’s coronary heart and it almost destroyed the franchise he constructed after transferring to Washington from Boston in 1937.

In researching two books I’ve written about the group, I had an opportunity to interview a quantity of gamers and others who labored for Marshall.

Bernie Nordlinger, Marshall’s legal professional proper from the begin in 1937, informed me his previous boss was a “dynamic man,” however agreed that some discovered him smug —even disagreeable.

“He was an intensely loyal man. Very few people who stayed around Marshall left him, because he was so darn interesting. He was volatile. He was a wild man in that sense … there were so many times I wanted to quit him because he made me angry. But there were so many other times that he made up for it.”

He was risky, all proper. Marshall fought with gamers and coaches. Joe Tereshinski, a decent finish who performed for Washington from 1947 to 1954, informed a narrative a couple of season finale in opposition to the Chicago Cardinals when Pete Stout, a fullback taking part in linebacker on this recreation, struggled to cowl the Cardinals receivers. Washington was down 21-Zero at halftime:

“We were sitting there munching on oranges at halftime, and everyone is downcast. Marshall comes in, wearing his fur coat. He was fuming. He got on all of us. And then he got on Pete Stout. ‘And you, Pete Stout … ‘ and Marshall used a cuss word. … Pete jumped up and grabbed Marshall by the throat. ‘Mr. Marshall. I am playing out of position and doing the best that I can covering this man. We’ve got guys hurt and I was asked to play that position. … My father never talked to me that way and I won’t let you.’ He finally released Mr. Marshall, who was turning very red. … He (Marshall) jumped on a footlocker and yelled to the team, ‘Now that’s the kind of fight I want from you fellows.”

Then there was his combat with Curly Lambeau over a six pack of beer. Before the Redskins ever satisfied Green Bay Packers icon Vince Lombardi to teach the Redskins, Marshall had satisfied Packers legend and six-time NFL champion coach Curly Lambeau to guide the Redskins in 1952.

Lambeau, after a 4-Eight season, received a profitable 6-5-1 out of the group in 1953. Then throughout a preseason Western tour, Marshall fired Lambeau over a six-pack of beer that Lambeau allowed a participant to carry to the lodge. “It got pretty nasty in that hotel between Curly and Marshall,” mentioned Gene Pepper, a lineman who performed for the Redskins in the early 1950s. “At one point Curly grabbed Marshall and put him up against the wall and said, ‘You can’t talk to me like that you son of a bitch. I don’t have to take that from you.’ I thought, ‘Here comes another coach.’ He was gone after that. George was a reformed alcoholic and hated drinking.”

George Preston Marshall was a racist. He was an alcoholic. He was a wild man. And sometime, he shall be forgotten. But not but.

You can hear Thom Loverro Tuesdays and Thursdays on The Kevin Sheehan Podcast and Wednesday afternoons on Chad Dukes Vs. The World on 106.7 The Fan.

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