- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2018


Ready or not, here they go.

The Redskins are off to Boston to help Bill, Tom and the Patriots kick off the second week of the NFL’s preseason on Thursday night.

The other matchups include defending Super Bowl champs Philadelphia Eagles flying high over the NFC East and hosting their cross-state rivals — the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The ‘Skins-Pats game has a homespun political bent, considering American Indians and Colonial Americans weren’t BFFs, and understandably so.

Still, the history of this nation and the fact that the Redskins cut their teeth in Boston as the Boston Braves and shared their original nickname with baseball’s Boston Braves are noteworthy.

Also worthy of mention is the Braves’ owner, George Preston Marshall, a native of West Virginia who made a name for himself as owner of a string of D.C. laundries and as husband to actress Corinne Mae Griffith, who penned the lyrics “Hail to the Redskins.”

That Marshall was a smart businessman is a fact, as he early on had the insight to work with the Chicago Bears’ George Halas to get the football league to erase the five-yard rule, which prohibited quarterbacks from throwing a pass fewer than five yards from the scrimmage line. (Marshall also was a team micromanager, a bad rap given to current owner Dan Snyder.)

Anyway, Marshall seemingly kept his eye on the deck of race cards played in the South. First, he ushered Americans’ newfound love affair with the television. Then he proposed broadcasting NFL games in the South, which had long been in love with college football.

Next, he mistakenly continued to play his trump card — refusing to sign black players to the Redskins.

“We’ll start signing Negroes when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites,” Marshall once said.

Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall turned the screws, warning Marshall that the team would not use what was then D.C. Stadium if it continued to ban black players. The ‘Skins signed halfback Bobby Mitchell in 1962 and — all hail — he ran back a 92-yard kickoff return against the Cowboys in his first home game.

The Patriots, meanwhile, are a heck of an NFL franchise. The team is not merely rivals with every AFC team this side of the Mississippi, but its cheerleaders are almost as popular as Dallas’. (And that’s not easy for this Redskins and Steelers fan to admit.)

With the Pats’ record, it sometimes seems as though Coach Bill Belichick has a grudge against explaining himself with words and quarterback Tom Brady was weaned on football.

Sorry soccer fans. Thursday night is gonna be football night in America (sans Bob Costas).

Step away from the limelight, LeBron James, and take a knee to the gods of professional football — a man’s game, a woman’s delight and a true team sport (although Roger Goodell doesn’t quite understand as much).

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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