He eliminated plays so near the sideline that they crimped signal calling; Marshall asked for and won a new rule saying the ball could be moved to new hashmarks 10 yards from out-of-bounds. His most important innovation, though, was his proposal to separate the league into two divisions. That kept more teams alive in the title races, with a corresponding increase in fan interest. "The game was getting too dull," said Marshall, ever the entertainer.
To pull off his plans for the Redskins in Washington, Marshall had sought to enlist the help of sportswriters. "I need the support of you guys," he said. "I'm paying Sammy Baugh $8,000, and I need to put 12,000 people in the park [Griffith Stadium] to break even." In 1937 the Redskins sold 958 season tickets. By 1947, with the help of Marshall's promotional flair, all of the stadium's 31,440 regular seats were selling out.
Marshall had bought into pro-football on the cheap, a partner with three others in the purchase, for $1,500, of an idle franchise in 1932. Three years later he bought out his partners, for another $1,500.
But he was unhappy in Boston, where he couldn't get many people to games. In 1936, when the Boston Redskins were to host Green Bay in the league title game in Finley Park, Marshall abruptly moved the game to New York, outraging Boston fans. He could be like that. "There were times on game day," he explained, "when the Boston papers played the Radcliffe girls' field hockey team above the Redskins game."
Marshall would get angry with coverage in other ways as well. In 1942 Marshall told The Washington Post that this writer was denied access to the press box in the Redskins Club House for sins like making light of Marshall's coaching experience with observations like, "He learned his football in a raccoon coat." He even sought to get me fired for my columns. An indignant Washington Post managing editor, Casey Jones, told Marshall: "You run your goddamn Redskins and I'll run The Washington Post."
The next year Marshall sued this writer and Post publisher Eugene Meyer for $200,000, charging libel and defamation of character for a report that the Redskins had taken a check for $13,000 out of an Army relief charity game. Marshall charged that he had been called unpatriotic, a swindler and a defrauder of widows and orphans.