The Washington Commanders are a professional American football team based in the Washington metropolitan area. The Commanders compete in the National Football League as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference East division. The team plays its home games at FedExField in Landover, Maryland; its headquarters and training facility are in Ashburn, Virginia. The team has played more than 1,000 games and is one of only five in the National Football League with more than 600 total wins. Washington was among the first National Football League franchises with a fight song, “Hail to the Commanders”, which is played by their marching band after every touchdown scored by the team at home. The franchise is valued by Forbes at 5.6 billion, making them the league’s sixth-most valuable team.
The team was founded in 1932 as the Boston Braves, changing its name to the Redskins the following year before relocating to Washington, D.C., in 1937. The Redskins branding was seen as pejorative by many for decades. In 2020, pressure from several National Football League and team sponsors led to its being retired as part of a wave of name changes in the wake of the George Floyd protests, and mainly because of awareness of the Native American mascot controversy revived by the aforementioned protests. The team played as the Washington Football Team for two seasons before rebranding as the Commanders in 2022.
Washington won the 1937 and 1942 National Football League championship games and Super Bowls XVII, XXII, and XXVI. Washington has finished a season as league runner-up six times, losing the 1936, 1940, 1943, and 1945 title games and Super Bowls VII and XVIII. With 14 division titles and 24 postseason appearances, they have an overall postseason record of. Their three Super Bowl wins are tied with the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders, behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, and the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants.
All of Washington’s championships were attained during two 10-year spans. From 1936 to 1945, the team went to the National Football League Championship six times, winning two of them. The second period lasted from 1982 to 1991, when they appeared in the postseason seven times, captured four Conference titles, and won three Super Bowls in four appearances. From 1946 to 1970, Washington posted just four winning seasons and never reached the postseason. They went without a single winning season from 1956 to 1968, a span that included their worst regular-season record: 1–12–1 in 1961. Since the 1991 season, when the team last won the Super Bowl, they have won the NFC East four times, had a winning record in nine seasons and reached the postseason in seven.
George Preston Marshall era
The city of Boston was awarded an National Football League franchise on July 9, 1932, under the ownership of American businessman George Preston Marshall. The team was named after the Boston Braves baseball team, with whom they shared Braves Field. The following year the team moved to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, and changed the team’s name to the “Redskins”. Marshall hired William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, who claimed to be part Sioux, as the team’s head coach.
Ray Flaherty years
The Redskins appeared in the 1936 National Football League Championship Game, their first championship appearance, but lost to the Green Bay Packers 21–6.
National Football League champions
The Redskins moved to Washington, D.C., after just five years in Boston, with Marshall stating that the city showed a lack of interest in the team. Through 1960, the team shared baseball’s Griffith Stadium with the first American League Washington Senators baseball team. In their first game in Washington, the Redskins defeated the New York Giants in the season opener, 13–3. The result, in favor of the Bears, remains the worst one-sided loss in National Football League history.
The Redskins played in the National Football League Championship one more time before a quarter-century drought that lasted until the 1972 season. With former Olympic gold medalist Dudley DeGroot as their new head coach, the Redskins went 8–2 during the 1945 season. One of the most impressive performances came from Baugh, who had a completion percentage of.703. They ended the season by losing to the Cleveland Rams in the 1945 National Football League Championship Game, 15–14.
The team’s early success endeared it to the fans of Washington, D.C. However, after 1945, the Redskins began a slow decline that they did not end until a playoff appearance in the 1971 season. The Redskins had four different head coaches from 1946 to 1951, including former players Turk Edwards and Dick Todd as well as John Whelchel and Herman Ball, and none were successful. But this did not stop George Preston Marshall from trying to make the Redskins the most successful franchise in the league. His first major alteration happened on June 14, 1950, when it was announced that American Oil Company planned to televise all Redskins games, making Washington the first National Football League team to have an entire season of televised games. His next major change came in February 1952, when he hired former Green Bay Packers coach Earl “Curly” Lambeau.
In 1961, the Redskins moved into their new stadium called D.C. Stadium. The first game in new D.C. Stadium occurred on October 1 in front of 37,767 fans. However, the Redskins failed to hold a 14-point lead and lost to the New York Giants That same year, Bill McPeak became the head coach and had a record of over five seasons. During his tenure, he helped draft future stars: wide receiver Charley Taylor, tight end Jerry Smith, safety Paul Krause, center Len Hauss, and linebacker Chris Hanburger. He also helped pull off two important trades, gaining quarterback Sonny Jurgensen from the Philadelphia Eagles and linebacker Sam Huff from the New York Giants.
One reason for the team’s struggles was disarray in the front office. Marshall began a mental decline in 1962, and the team’s other stockholders found it difficult to make decisions without their boss. Marshall died on August 9, 1969, In 1966, Otto Graham was hired as the new head coach. Graham coached the Redskins for three seasons, but whatever magic he had as an National Football League player disappeared on the sidelines as the team recorded a mark of 17–22–3 during that time period. He resigned after the 1968 season in favor of Vince Lombardi, and became athletic director of the Coast Guard Academy before retiring at the end of 1984.
During most of this unsuccessful period, Marshall continually refused to integrate the team, despite pressure from The Washington Post and the federal government. Two months into the Kennedy administration on March 24, 1961, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall warned Marshall to hire black players or face federal retribution. The Redskins were under the threat of civil rights legal action by the Kennedy administration, which would have prevented a segregated team from playing at the new federally-owned D.C. Stadium, managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Redskins’ previous venue, Griffith Stadium, was owned by the Griffith family, owners of the Washington Senators, who relocated and became the Minnesota Twins in 1961.
In 1962, Washington became the final professional American football franchise to integrate. First, the Redskins selected running back Ernie Davis of Syracuse first overall in the 1962 National Football League Draft; Davis was the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy and the first to be the top selection in an National Football League draft.
In mid-December 1961, Marshall announced that on draft day, he had traded the rights to Davis to the Cleveland Browns, who wanted Davis to join the league’s leading rusher, Jim Brown, in their backfield. Davis was traded for veteran running back Bobby Mitchell and 1962 first-round draft choice Leroy Jackson of Western Illinois. The move was made under unfortunate circumstances – as it turned out that Davis had leukemia, and died without ever playing a down in professional football. Lombardi led the team to a their best since 1955, but died of cancer on the eve of the 1970 season. Partial to seasoned veterans instead of highly touted young players, Allen’s teams became known as the Over-the-Hill Gang. That season, the Redskins made the playoffs for the first time since 1945 with a 9–4–1 mark Also during the off-season, the Redskins acquired Mark May, Russ Grimm, and Dexter Manley in the 1981 National Football League Draft, all of whom became significant contributors to the team for the next few years. After starting the 1981 season 0–5, the Redskins won eight out of their next 11 games and finished the season 8–8. In the NFC Championship Game against them at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Redskins defensive end Dexter Manley knocked Cowboys’ quarterback Danny White out for the rest of the game and sent him into the locker room shortly before halftime. Later in the game, Redskins defensive tackle Darryl Grant’s interception, which he returned for a 10-yard touchdown, off one of Cowboys’ backup quarterback Gary Hogeboom’s passes which was tipped by Dexter Manley to score the decisive points. John Riggins rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries and the Redskins went on to defeat the Cowboys’ by a score of 31–17. Riggins instead gained by running through would-be tackler Don McNeal and getting the go-ahead touchdown. The Redskins ended up winning by a 27–17 score with John Riggins winning the Super Bowl MVP.
After the 1982 season Redskins placekicker Mark Moseley was the first and only placekicker in National Football League history to be named the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player; Moseley made 20 of 21 field goals attempted in 1982. Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs also won his first National Football League Coach of the Year Award in 1982 which was the first of his back-to-back National Football League Coach of the Year Awards, his second coming in the 1983 National Football League season.
The 1983 season marked the rookie debut of cornerback Darrell Green, selected in the 1983 National Football League Draft along with Charles Mann, Green would go on to play his entire 20-year National Football League career for the Redskins. On October 1, 1983, …
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