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  • You are currently browsing the archives for the Redskins History category.
  • What’s Next in Washington

    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.

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    Michael Irvin’s Stand

    Michael Irvin has taken a stand in favor of gay rights.   (ESPN:  Michael Irvin Champions Equality) This is certainly a courageous statement on his part.  A stand that is likely to be unpopular among many in football, especially among the fanbase in the Dallas area, and those who look for any reason to pile it on.

    If he really believes what he is saying, I have a good place for him to start.  Read the rest of this entry »

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    The King of Clutch is gone.

    Yes, this is not about Redskins football… but, please, bear with me.  Among my cherished memories is that of watching a grizzled old Raiders “kicker” and part time back up quarterback winning a game with no time left. There are not many like George Blanda. The man was effective, till the end.    Brett Favre?  Not quite yet.  Read the rest of this entry »

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    Russ Grim Retro Wallpaper

    In the spirit of recognizing the greatest Redskins, it is my pleasure to introduce the new Russ Grimm Wallpaper. Want it in a widescreen version – no problem.

    Russ Grimm Wallpaper
    Russ Grimm Wallpaper

    Check out all of the Redskin Wallpapers available in the Fan Zone.

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    One Down… 6 More ‘Skins Who Should Be in the Hall

    Russ Grimm is FINALLY about to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. This is welcome news to all fans of The Hogs. Redskins fans the world over are thrilled with this announcement. Russ Grimm was the heart of the Hogs. Read the rest of this entry »

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    More Memories of George Allen

    “Forty men together can’t lose!”

    – George Allen, December 31st, 1972, pumping the team up before the NFC Championship Game. Read the rest of this entry »

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    Jim Zorn; The End of an Error

    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.

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    Bruce Allen? George Allen? Memories…

    All I can say is wow. Cerrato. Gone. Poof. I sure didn’t see it coming. Of course, in hind sight… there have been a number of Daniel Snyder – Bruce Allen sightings… and I think that there have been a couple of quickly dismissed rumors… We all wished… but no one expected… for Cerrato to leave the scene.

    So, there is delirium… rumors continue to swirl… it seems that most money is on Mike Shanahan to become the next HC… but, who would expect that to be announced before the end of the season? Read the rest of this entry »

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    A Thing Called Tradition

    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

    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

    In 1957, the team returned to the gold helmet, but without the burgundy stripe. For better or worse, the result was a helmet identical to Notre Dame’s. The design was worn late into the 1958 season.

    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

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    Redskins in the LIFE Photo Archives

    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.

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