The last five games the Washington Redskins have played have been some of the most difficult to watch football that I can remember seeing in recent history. After each game I am left thinking, well, it can’t get worse than that. However that debacle that the team displayed yesterday was disgusting, embarrassing, and just plain shameful. Shame on the players, shame on Mike Shanahan, shame on the Redskins’ organization.
- Russ Grimm Wallpaper
Check out all of the Redskin Wallpapers available in the Fan Zone.
I never really had anything against Jim Zorn. His resume included the fact that he was both a college and NFL Quarterback. He worked under Mike Holmgren. The NFL should have been in his blood.
Whenever a debate creeps up about the Redskins’ uniforms, many people trot out the word “tradition” in defense of the current outfit. It’s not an unreasonable position; while wearing more or less the same uniform the team sports today, the Redskins experienced the greatest ten-year stretch in team history from 1982 to 1991. The decade produced seven playoff appearances, a .704 winning percentage and most importantly, three NFL championships1, all while wearing more or less the same uniform the team sports today. And while it’s foolish to suggest that a change in the uniform will make the team better or worse, I do think there is something to be said for wearing the same uniforms that brought you your greatest spoils.
With that being said, the idea that the Redskins have always worn their current uniform is simply wrong. And it’s not just wrong in the sense that way back in 1937 they wore something slightly different; the Redskins and did not adopt the current uniform set until 1979. The first half of our franchise’s history didn’t involve the uniform we know today.
I’m not going to sort through every uniform alteration and shirt/pant combination, but I will run through the Redskins’ helmet history. And even for a team that’s been around for over 70 years, we’ve gone through a lot of them:
1937-1952: Leather Helmets
When the Redskins first arrived in Washington in 1937, players weren’t wearing hard-shelled helmets, but rather leather. The question is if these leather helmets were ever painted a uniform color. The fact that all the photos from this era are black and white, combined with the overall scarcity of action shots, makes this nearly impossible to determine. Here is what little we do know: Helmet Hut2 has this yellow and black game-worn helmet from 1939, and in this painting, undoubtedly based on the famous photograph from the 1942 NFL Championship game, the helmet is depicted as burgundy.
I’m not going to go crazy trying to determine each change during the leather helmet era, but if you have any additional information on leather helmets worn by the Redskins, please shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1952-1954: Gold Helmet, Burgundy Stripe
The first hard-shelled helmets were used in 1952, a true gold with a burgundy stripe. 1952 was Sammy Baugh’s final season in football, and it was this helmet he wore. Here Baugh is pictured autographing a replica of that 1952 design. The design was used through 1954.
1954-1956: Cardinal Helmet; Yellow Stripe
At some point in the 1954 season, the team switched to a cardinal helmet with a yellow stripe. It’s interesting that this color scheme would be quickly abandoned, yet is pretty close to the colors the team wears today. The design lasted through 1956.
1957-1958: The Notre Dame Helmet
1958-1964: The Feather Helmet
At the end of the 1958 season, the team introduced the first emblem, a feather running up the back of the helmet. It lasted through 1964, but in a couple of slightly different incarnations. The helmet was initially and ultimately burgundy, yet a game-worn helmet from 1961 indicates it was once cardinal. In the 1963 and 1964, numbers were placed on the back of the helmet.
1965-1969: The Spear Helmet
In 1965, the feather was replaced with a spear, again on a burgundy helmet. Following the 1968 season, Vince Lombardi came out of retirement to run the Redskins. Lombardi’s brother-in-law worked for Rawlings, so the Redskins switched uniform providers. When the uniforms arrived, they were the wrong color – a lighter, cardinal red instead of the burgundy. Since it would have been a real hassle to order new uniforms, the helmets were painted to reflect the color change. Tragically3, the color change stuck and the Redskins never returned to burgundy. You can see the difference in this picture of Sonny Jurgensen posing with replicas of every helmet he ever wore4.
1970-1971: The Yellow Lombardi Helmet
Hoping to remodel the franchise in the image of his powerful Packer squads, Vince Lombardi redesigned the uniforms to match, introducing a yellow helmet. Unfortunately, Lombardi fell ill with colon cancer and passed away before the start of the 1970 season. He never got to see his creation in action.
1972: The Indian Head Helmet
In 1972, the Redskins ditched the yellow for the helmet we know today. The changes throughout the years have been minor: In 1978, the facemask was changed from gray to gold. In 1982 (the season that yielded Super Bowl XVII), the logo featured curled feathers rather than the traditional straight feathers. The team returned to the straight-feather look in 1983, and other than the occasional throwbacks (worn in 1994, 2002 and 2007), the helmet has since remained unchanged. It should be noted that while the 2002 and 2007 designs are true replicas of helmets from the past, the 1994 helmet was not. For the NFL’s 75th anniversary, all NFL teams wore replicas of their original uniforms. Since the 1937 Redskins didn’t have a hard-shelled helmet, the team just removed the logos from the regular helmet, making this “throwback” a unique helmet unto itself.
And there you have it. Seven5 helmets in less than 60 years. So the next time you bristle at the suggestion of a uniform change, just remember that the real Redskins tradition is one of change.
1 For comparison, the second best ten-year stretch in Redskins’ history was 1937-1946, which produced five playoff appearances, a winning percentage of .701* and two NFL championships. It should be noted that the .701 winning percentage is calculated by counting ties as a half win and a half loss, standard practice today. But before 1972, the NFL didn’t count ties at all when calculating winning percentage. Using the old method, the winning percentage would be .713, a franchise best.
2 It’s an awesome resource, and one that you’ll find I abuse in this blog entry. The official store is a little lacking in the NFL department, but their college section and World Football League sections is incredible, if a bit pricy.
3 It’s just my opinion, but I think it’s a travesty that the Redskins don’t wear burgundy and gold.
4 Don’t be fooled by the order he has them in. The cardinal spear was worn after the burgundy spear.
5 Depending on how you want to count the leather helmets, the minor alterations and the throwbacks, the number could be as high as 20 over the team’s history:
1: Plain leather
2: Yellow leather
3: Burgundy leather
4: Gold helmet, burgundy stripe
5: Cardinal helmet, yellow stripe
6: Notre Dame helmet
7: Burgundy Feather
8: Cardinal Feather
9: Burgundy Feather, again
10: Burgundy Feather with numbers
11: Burgundy Spear
12: Red Spear
13: Lombardi Yellow
14: Indian Head, gray facemask
15: Indian Head, yellow facemask
16: Curled feathers
17: Indian Head, yellow facemask, again
18: 1994 Throwback
19: 2002 Throwback
20: 2007 Throwback
TIME has recently teamed up with Google to make their LIFE photo archives available on the web. Most of these photos never made it into print, and the process of digitalizing around 10 million photos is still ongoing. It’s an incredible resource, and Google Images makes the archive easy to search.
There are some fantastic football shots. Unfortunately, the best pictures don’t involve the Redskins; I had no idea this media biased stretched back so far. But there are a lot of interesting photos of the hometown team, and I’ve linked them here for your convenience.
While trying to distract myself from the fact that a Gus Frerotte vs. Norv Turner Super Bowl is still a possibility, I took a look at Sammy Baugh’s statistics. I was surprised to see his rookie season quarterback rating: 50.5, an incredibly low number by today’s standards. Even Heath Shuler (sorry, Congressman Heath Shuler) never posted a mark that low when he wore the burgundy and gold. Yet Baugh’s 1937 campaign was not only good enough to guide the Redskins to their first NFL Championship, but it was also good enough to lead the league in quarterback rating. 71 years ago, the league average quarterback rating was just 34.4.
New to THN this year, we will be periodically releasing “retro” wallpapers of some of the Greatest Redskins. This week, we are proud to introduce the Ken Houston Wallpaper. It is also available in a widescreen version.
Check out all of the Redskin Wallpapers available in the Fun Zone
Writes THN member welch, our local history buff:
“Just have to come back to the only online Redskins home to smile some more.
One game is not a season, as we all said last week, but it sure helps when that game is a win!.
Hail to the Redskins. Remember Gene Brito every time a DE makes a play. I wish Sammy Baugh was in good health, but at least Sonny saw the pass to Moss.
Slingin Sammy, The Little General, Sonny, Billy, Joe T, Doug, the Rypper: I hope we’ve seen the torch picked up.
Flaherty, Lombardi, Old George, Jack, Joe: one game, yes, but maybe, just maybe we’ve seen another torch picked up.
Trying to tone down my enthusiasm, but this is way different than a win by Spurrier. That offense was not fit for the NFL. Richie Petibon, our great defensive coordinator, stopped every Spurrier-like offense in 1991: call it Red Gun, Silver Streak, Run & Shot, Floopdie Whoop or Mouse Davis’s Genius plan, but Petibon and the Redskins proved that it wouldn’t work.
Before the NFC championship game, reporters asked Petibon, “Coach, the Lions scored 45 points on the Cowboys last week. How can you possibly stop them?”
Petibon just said, “Oh, I don’t know, but we probably won’t try what the Cowboys did”. Just for the pleasure of remembering, and explaining to those too young to remember the Gibbs teams, Sir Charles Mann sprinted through the Lion’s right tackle, waved at Barry Sanders, and knocked QB Erik Kramer a few feet in the air…and knocked the ball about five yards away. Redskins recovered, scored on the next play, and the game was over.
Fun to remember.
That’s why we knew that Spurrier’s coaching in the NFL would be no more effective than Spurrier’s quarterbacking. (As Casey Stengel said, you can look it up.)
At the very least, thngs look better with a win than with two losses.
What happened to that “NFL executive” who told the Post that Campbell could only play QB for a Coryell/Gibbs/Saunders offense?”
From: Washington Times Redskins Fan Forum, by Robert Janis
If you read my first blog last week, then you know that I don’t want the travesty Art Monk had to tolerate before he was finally named into the Pro Football Hall of Fame fall on any other Redskins player we feel is worthy of the honor. So I am hoping to get you guys off your behinds to work on a campaign to get those worthy Redskins the recognition they deserve. Many of you thought that Jerry Smith, Larry Brown, Chris Hanburger and Pat Fischer among others deserved to be in the Hall. I suggested that we first start out with Smith and Brown.
The only criteria for a player to be considered for induction into the Hall is that he must be retired for at least five seasons and he had to have been named to at least one Pro Bowl team. Anyone, including a plain ordinary fan of the sport, can nominate a player for enshrinement. Players who have been retired for 25 years or more are considered by a senior committee, which includes seven veteran members of the overall Selection Committee.
Members of the Selection Committee receive a list of 100 or so names. This list consists of players who have been previously considered as well as new names that had not been considered before. The members of the Committee vote to reduce the list first down to 25 and then down to 15.
The Saturday before the Super Bowl in the city that is hosting the game, the members of the Selection Committee meet to consider the 15 as well as two players categorized as seniors and vote for the player they believe should be in the Hall. A class of no more than six and no less than three is selected.
Since Larry Brown and Jerry Smith left the NFL more than 25 years ago, the members of the Senior Committee would be involved with their nomination. Here are the members of that committee:
Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News*
John McClain, Houston Chronicle*
Edwin Pope, Miami Herald*
Jerry Magee, San Diego Union Tribune*
Ira Miller, San Francisco Chronicle*
Len Shapiro, Miami Herald*
Dave Goldberg, Associated Press*
So let’s start off by sending e-mails to these people to get them thinking about Larry Brown and Jerry Smith. I think it would be a good idea for the e-mail to include their stats, any testimonials by people who knew or know them, and personal experiences you may have had with them. Any information on their community service should also be included.
Next we can’t take anything fore granted. We have to assume that many of the members of the committee have not seen Brown and Smith play or have simply forgotten. I know that NFL Films probably have films of both playing. We can try to get parts of these films online in a YouTube or some other venue and then later we can encourage the members of the committee to go to the site to see Brown and Smith perform.
Later we can try and get former Redskins who had played with them to comment to the members of the committee concerning their leadership and involvement with the team.
More ideas can be employed here. If you have any ideas please describe them in your comments.
So let’s go to work.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Robert Janis