Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th Century.
The Boston Redskins became the Washington Redskins in 1937, and won the NFL championship that same year. "Slingin' Sammy" Baugh, who actually got his nickname from an earlier incarnation as a baseball player, became a local hero and led the Redskins to another championship in 1942. He retired after 16 seasons in 1952. Shirley Povich, who wrote about sports for The Post for 75 years until his death in 1998, captured the Redskins' first taste of glory. An excerpt from The Post of Dec. 13, 1937:
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Dec. 12 -- In a wild, frenzied battle for points on the frozen turf of Wrigley Field, the deft arm of Slingin' Sammy Baugh prevailed today and Washington's Redskins emerged as the champions of the National Football League.
From the stabbing efforts of Baugh's rapier-like heaves, the big, bruising Chicago Bears, champions of the West, reeled and stumbled and finally yielded to the Redskins, 28 to 21. It was a triumph of Baugh over brawn, of East over West.
Huddled in the stands, Spartan-like, in the sub-freezing temperature that hovered around 20 degrees, were 15,878 football fans who had heard tell of Baugh and the Redskins and saw for themselves today. It was a disappointingly small crowd, but it was a lot of football that they witnessed.
At the end of the half the game belonged to the Bears by a score of 14 to 7, with the Redskins seemingly in rout as Nagurski and Manders and Nolting and Masterson poured through the Washington line and bulled their way into the lead.
And then, in the third quarter, Sammy Baugh began to strike. Once, twice, three times he uncoiled the deadliest of all throwing arms and each time he found a receiver for touchdown passes. Into that third period Baugh and the Redskins packed a 21-point uprising, dashed away with the ball game as a gang of bewildered Bears had no reply.
It was a mob of infuriated Bears that gave ground before Baugh and late in the fourth quarter, when tempers were short and the title was slipping from the paws of the Bears, fighting broke out.
In a wild melee of fist slinging that took place beyond the sidelines near the Washington bench, Baugh was the central figure off the field even as he was on the field.
For it was a punch aimed at Baugh by 210-pound 6-foot 3 Dick Plasman, big, bad Bear end who played his college football at Vanderbilt, that set off the flare-up of open fist slinging that had been taking place surreptitiously in the scrimmages throughout the game.
Baugh had run Plasman out of bounds after the the latter had caught a pass and it was within 5 feet of the Redskins' bench that the Bear end lashed out at Baugh. Then Baugh punched back and Redskin reserves leaped to their feet, rushing to Baugh's aid.
From across the field came both Redskins and Bears and for a half minute it was a free-for-all but game officials restored order. No penalties were given but Plasman, when he went back to the playing field, was dripping blood from the nose and limping noticeably.
It was a rough, bruising ball game from the outset, with both teams slipping and skidding on the hard-ridged, frost-coated turf despite the fact that they were shod with rubber-soled basketball shoes.
As late as the third period, after the Redskins had tied the score at 14-14, the Bears were in command with a 21-14 lead. Then it was with a pass to Wayne Millner that Sammy Baugh fetched the tying touchdown and five minutes later won the ball game with a pass to Ed Justice.
Thus Washington, which had waited 24 years for its first baseball pennant, won its first big league football championship in its maiden year in the National Football League.