FEBRUARY IS THE CRUELEST MONTH

for Redskin fans. The long wait for the start of summer training camp seems interminable. But there was a time when the Redskins' season didn't end with the championship game: Fifty years ago, the Redskins were still playing football in February.

In December 1937, Washington beat Chicago (sound familiar?) for the title, but a couple of exhibition re-matches were arranged for starving fans in the South. In the first, in Dallas on January 23, 1938, the Skins beat the Bears again, 13-0. But on February 6, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Washington fell, 16-10.

They played for blood in those days, whether it counted or not. The Orange Bowl exhibition boasted no fewer than six spirited brawls and numerous ejections. Washington's Evening Star reported that "the football was loose but some of the fights were good." The best fight climaxed when "Big George Musso of the Bears raced after referee Les Mann, intent on knocking the official flat. Coach George Halas, trying to restrain Musso, became involved in fisticuffs with his own player."

The Redskins scored their only touchdown on a fumble return when "John Doehring, Bear back, flipped the ball in the air as he was being tackled. He was yanked by Halas. As he came off the field, he walked up to his coach and announced he wanted 'to quit this lousy ball club.' "

So cheer up, football fans. The seasons may come and go, but the spirit of John Doehring lives on.