Washington Football Team
As the sixth oldest team in the NFL, the Washington Football Team has plenty of history.
The franchise was founded in 1932 and called the Boston Braves. The team played in Boston through 1936 before its owner, George Preston Marshall, moved the team – by then nicknamed the Redskins – to Washington D.C. because he was unhappy with the lack of fan support in Boston.
The Redskins won their first of five championships in 1937 and have made a lot of headlines in more than 80 years since then. One of the biggest they made came during the summer of 2020.
The team had the Redskins nickname from 1937 until July of 2020 when mounting pressure from those who said it was offensive to Native Americans forced ownership to remove the nickname. At the time, however, trademark issues for a new nickname were pending so it used Washington Football Team as a placeholder.
The change came after owner Daniel Snyder had, for years, resisted the idea. In fact, in 2013, Snyder said publicly he would never consider changing the name.
High-level executives for the team came under fire in August of 2020 when the Washington Post reported that they used outtakes from video shoots of the team’s cheerleaders in 2008 to create another video of incidental nudity. The video, which was kept secret from the cheerleaders, included moments that showed their bare private areas.
It was one in a series of stories written by the Post that alleged many incidents of sexual harassment and verbal abuse by former team employees at a team facility.
Following the Post’s report, Snyder vowed a cultural change and opened the organization to an independent investigation.
Snyder has owned the team since May of 1999 when he purchased the franchise from John Kent Cooke, who failed to raise sufficient funds to permanently buy the team. Snyder paid $800 million, which, at the time, was the most expensive amount paid for a team in American sports history.
The ownership group also includes Black Diamond Capital Chairman and CEO Robert Rothman, NVR Inc. Chairman of the Board Dwight Schar and FedEx Corporation Chairman, President and CEO Frederick Smith.
Coming off a 3-13 season that saw head coach Jay Gruden fired following an 0-5 start, Washington hired former Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera for the same role. He hired Scott Turner as his offensive coordinator and Jack Del Rio as his defensive coordinator.
The team used the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to select Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. Entering the 2020 season, the team had another former Ohio State player – Dwayne Haskins – as its starting quarterback.
Washington’s first two NFL championships came in 1937 and 1942, before the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Following the merger, the team won three Super Bowls (1982, 1987, 1991). Joe Gibbs was the head coach for all three.
Washington beat Miami, 27-17, in Super Bowl XVII thanks to a strong defense and a dominant running game.
The defense was so strong that the Redskins held Miami to 176 total yards on 47 plays, and 76 of those yards came on a touchdown pass in the first half. The Dolphins’ only other touchdown came on a kickoff return.
Washington put the game away with its running game. Running back John Riggins scored on a 43-yard run on 4th-and-1 to give Washington a 20-17 early in the fourth quarter. Riggins broke Super Bowl records for rushing attempts (38) and rushing yards (166) and was named MVP.
Washington beat Denver with a score of 42-10, in Super Bowl XXII thanks to a transcendent performance by quarterback Doug Williams.
Guided by QB John Elway, Denver led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, but then Williams, who began the regular season as the back-up and was promoted to starter midway through, took over the game.
Williams threw four touchdown passes in the second quarter, including an 80-yarder and a 50-yarder to wide receiver Ricky Sanders, to become the first player to throw four in a single quarter and single half. Washington led 35-10 at halftime, and Williams was named MVP of the game.
After winning its first two Super Bowl titles in come-from-behind fashion, Washington never trailed en route to its third. It did not allow Buffalo to score in the first half on its way to a 37-24 win in Super Bowl XXVI.
Washington’s offense played well, but its defense was the highlight. Buffalo’s no-huddle offense led by QB Jim Kelly, RB Thurman Thomas and WR Andre Reed, paced the league in yardage and was second in points during the regular season, but the Bills didn’t score against Washington until the third quarter. By then, Washington was ahead 24-0.
Washington QB Mark Rypien passed for 292 yards and two touchdowns and was named MVP. With this victory, Joe Gibbs became the third head coach to win three Super Bowls.
Washington also reached Super Bowls VII and XVIII but lost.
The list of great players in Washington history is long but those who stood out among the others can be narrowed down to a few.
Sammy Baugh was the first drop-back quarterback in NFL history and was given the nickname “Slingin’” Sammy Baugh. He made six Pro Bowls in 16 seasons and led the team to its championships in 1937 and 1942. He was a member of the inaugural Pro Football Hall of Fame class in 1963.
Darrell Green played 20 seasons in the NFL and is known as one of the best defensive backs in league history. He was a two-time Super Bowl champion and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.
John Riggins was a bruising fullback who rushed for more than 11,000 career yards and scored 104 rushing touchdowns – a mark that ranks seventh in NFL history. He scored two touchdowns in Washington’s Super Bowl XVII victory and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992.
Art Monk is the leading receiver in team history after spending 14 seasons in burgundy and golf. He surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau five times and finished his career with 12,721 receiving yards. He won three Super Bowl titles and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.