Marshall said, 'You've got to get so-and-so into the game if you want to win.' Ray looked at him and said, 'Mr. Marshall, if you want me to coach, get back up in the seats. If you want to coach, take over right now and I'll go back home.' Marshall never challenged Ray again."
Marshall also never forgot, which eventually would be a factor in the team's late-1940s decline. But in 1937 the Redskins were the toast of Washington, and Marshall had the sense not to spoil something good by firing Flaherty, as he would many other coaches. A rarely deflated Marshall returned to his seat and kept an unusual silence. The experience burned him. He was, after all, Mr. Somebody, with one of his desks in the Redskins office in front of the large window on 9th Street, so people could look in, past the wooden cigar-store Indian he had placed out front, and see him at "work." He fancied himself a showman, and being on display was part of his showmanship.
Marshall had, in fact, tried to pursue a theater career, starting in New York in 1914, but he hadn't gotten very far. He nonetheless loved being on the public stage and talking incessantly, which made him a target for newspapermen's zingers. Rodger H. Pippen of the Baltimore News-Post, who knew an egotist when he saw one, called Marshall "always his own best pal." Another wrote Marshall up as "a man of a few words a few thousand."
His hair parted in the middle and slicked back, Marshall cut a figure in elegant double-breasted suits with a triangle of handkerchief jutting from his breast pocket. He dressed like an owner of something important. In Washington he was, but in Boston he hadn't been. He and three others had bought an available franchise in 1932, moved into Braves Field and named their football team the Boston Braves after the baseball team. The next year Marshall moved the team a few blocks to Fenway and thought up the name Redskins.
His performance at the NFL's owners' meeting of 1932 wasn't worthy of Broadway, but it was an attention-getter. The moguls, meeting in Atlantic City, were about to disband from a hotel ballroom when a newcomer among their ranks got to his feet. "Gentlemen. I have some proposals to make concerning changes in the rules," he said, as one magazine reported. The NFL owners weren't accustomed to changing rules. But he anticipated their initial thought: What does a laundry man know about football rules?
"I realize that you men know your football inside and out. I know football only from the spectator's point of view.