Jack Kent Cooke, who was still quietly in the background with his larger 25 percent holding of Redskins stock, was not unhappy with these developments. The people who were dismayed were Marshall's two estranged children, who challenged the conservators' control of Marshall's stock in court as a conflict of interest. Their argument wasn't without merit, as time would prove.
After Marshall's death in 1969, Williams, the conservator, dealt with Williams, the Redskins president, on selling Marshall's 52 percent holding back to the team. (The proceeds, from a bank loan, went in part to settle with the Marshall children, who had been cut out of their father's will, and in part to the child-welfare foundation established by the will, with its anti-integration provision now skirted.) As another Williams biographer, Evan Thomas, noted in The Man to See: "By voting to sell Marshall's stock back to the Redskins, he was giving himself more control over the team and increasing the value of his own investment."
Indeed. The Redskins retired Marshall's 52 percent holding, leaving just 48 percent of the original stock outstanding which meant that the proportion and value of the remaining owners' shares more than doubled. That's how Jack Kent first became majority owner of Redskins stock. Because he also owned basketball's Los Angeles Lakers and hockey's Kings, however, he was prevented by NFL cross-ownership rules from active involvement in Redskins management. Williams voted his shares.
If Williams could have arranged for the team to do as well on the playing field, they would have been unqualified winners. But in the 1962-1964 seasons, Washington wasn't sure what to make of the Redskins. The team had shown considerable improvement in 1962, going from a 1-12-1 record to 5-7-2. That season Mitchell led the NFL in receiving, with 72 catches, and scored 11 touchdowns.
In his first game, Mitchell returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, scored two more touchdowns on passes of 81 yards and 6 yards from Snead, and set up two other touchdowns with long receptions. Still, the Redskins could manage nothing more than a 35-35 tie with the Cowboys that day. Mitchell also sparked the Redskins during a 17-16 upset of his former team, the Browns, with an electrifying 50-yard run, following a short pass from Snead, for the winning touchdown.
But the optimism of 1962 faded with a 3-11 record in 1963. That caused McPeak to shake up the team and the town during a nine-day stretch in April of 1964. The first move was trading Snead and defensive back Claude Crabb to the Eagles for Jurgensen and linebacker Jimmie Carr.