He delivered five title appearances in the Redskins' first nine years in Washington, winning two championships. He spent generously on halftime shows that had no equal in other cities. He even had surprise halftime arrivals of Santa Claus at final home games, with fans wondering each year whether Santa would make his entrance by helicopter, space ship, reindeer or motorcycle. One year Santa never made it into the stadium: Arriving by parachute, he drifted over Griffith Stadium's right field wall.
Marshall's coaches, though, were not always so pleased with him. When it came to inteferring with them, he was the expert, often calling plays from his box or on the field and sometimes even making his own substitutions. When it came to dispensing with coaches, he had an itchy trigger finger. Six head coaches passed through his revolving door in the team's first 14 years in Washington.
One of his more notable moments of meddling occurred when his team was still in Boston and his head coach was Lone Star Dietz. One day before the kickoff, he told Dietz: "If we win the toss, I want you to kick off."
On the way to the press box where Marshall took up his usual station, outfitted with earphones and a phone to the bench, Marshall heard: "Redskins win toss." When he arrived in the box, he had difficulty adjusting the headphones, which were in a tangle. When he finally fixed them, he was astonished to look out on the field and see the Redskins in kick-receiving formation. He called Dietz and fumed, "Dammit, Dietz, I thought I told you to kick off, not receive."
And Dietz said, "Where have you been, George? We did kick off, and they ran it back for a touchdown."
Marshall won the admiration of other NFL owners, who swept Marshall into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a charter member. This was not only because they followed his lead with halftime shows, marching bands, radio networks or the TV broadcasts he began in 1950, important as all those were. The owners had cause to honor Marshall for contributing much to the game.
He had succeeded, for example, in ending a rule that hampered quarterbacks by forbidding them to launch a pass within five yards of a line of scrimmage.