On Monday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and then the Redskins’ Web site, commemorated the 75th anniversary of the franchise’s move from Boston to Washington. So I figured this was surely another occasion to dip into the archives and see how The Post covered this news in 1937.
Well, it turns out that all the interesting relocation stuff happened in December. February was a mere formality, a vote from the owners at a two-day league meeting in Chicago that the Post covered with a wire story. In fact, the Redskins news appeared only in the subhed and not the text of the story, which was mostly devoted to the approval of a new franchise in Cleveland.
“Grid League Berth Given Cleveland,” was the main headline.
“Rams 10th Teams in Loop With Washington’s Redskin Pros” was the first subhed.
“Transfer of Franchise From Boston to D.C. Is Approved” was the second subhed.
“The moneyed Cleveland Rams became the tenth team in the National Professional Football League today by an overwhelming vote of the nine original club owners,” the story began.
That was the only time the news of the Redskins’ arrival made print 75 years ago, although the paper also ran a “special dispatch” in the same day’s paper about the release of the NFL schedule.
Here’s how that dispatch started:
“Listing home games with both the New York Giants whom they defeated for the eastern division title last fall, and the Green Bay Packers who beat them for the league championship, the 1937 schedule of the Washington Redskins was announced here today as the annual two-day meeting of the National Professional Football League came to a close.”
That’s good writing!
“Six home games and five road contests make up the Redskins program with the four other eastern teams — New York, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, each scheduled for home-and-home battles. Chicago’s Cardinals will also appear in Washington while the Redskins will play their fifth road game in Cleveland, admitted to league membership yesterday.
“The Redskins drew a choice opening game for their debut in the Capital City. The Giants with Tuffy Leemans, former George Washington University star and outstanding rookie of the league last year, figure to help attract a banner crowd at the inaugural on Friday night, September 17, in Griffith Stadium.”
So that was that for the news out of Chicago. Never again will I celebrate February 13 with such vigor.
But it turns out that 75 years ago this week, Shirley Povich was on vacation. His column was taken over by a variety of Post staffers, under the heading “This Morning...Without Shirley Povich.”
And the one Redskins column that ran a week ago this week, by Lewis F. Atchison, was a real beauty. I mean, this was 1937 in 700 words. I’ll reproduce a bunch of it here, because it’s awesome.
This Morning...Without Shirley Povich
February 16, 1937
Mr. Ray Flaherty is in town, looking over the territory he and his Redskins will call home in the National League football campaign next season, and if you’ll take his word for it we’re living in a rather nice location. So much better than that cold, cold climate of Boston, where the Cabots speak only to the Lodges, and the Lodges are too busy going to the races to return the favor.
As for going to football games, Mr. Flaherty informed us, his honest Irish face lighting up with an indignant Irish glow, why, it just isn’t being done any more. Not only the Redskins, but the collegians as well, including Holy Cross, Boston College and Harvard, played in comparative privacy last year. It was awfully discouraging, so Flaherty breathed a sigh of relief and gratitude when Mr. George Marshall picked up his Redskins, franchise and all, and decided to play in his own back yard.
Racing, both horses and dogs, has needled the grid game into a state of inertia in Boston — as everybody knows, and down here where we have no racing — as yet, it ought to be rather nice playing in a park with some fans in the stands. They can applaud, boo, toss rosebuds at the players or take aim with pop bottles, but it’s going to be very, very pleasant for red-headed Mr. Flaherty and the Redskins.
The broad-shouldered coach from Spokane, Wash., is satisfied that if Washington likes football at all it will like the National League brand, especially as played by the local club. It’s the youngest team in the league, he avers, overflowing with that certain something known as pep, and he thinks the boys are going to be better than ever next season....
One of the problems facing the team is that of finding a suitable training camp and lodging house for the year. Several sites near the city are being considered for the camp, but the search for city quarters is quite annoying. That training camp note aroused our inquisitive nature. Do the pros really train?
“I’ll say they do,” said Flaherty....
Training camp life really is a grind, although once the season is underway the men live a life of ease and comparative luxury — but not a loose, wild existence. In camp they’re up at 8 a.m. and eating breakfast not longer than a half hour later. At 9:30 they climb into the uniforms and practice until noon.
Lunch is served at 12:30 p.m., practice resumes at 2:30 o’clock and continues until 5. They dine at 6 and must be in bed by 10:30 at the latest. Most of them turn in before 9, however, Flaherty informed us, the work is so exhaustive.
During the season they are kept as carefully as are old manuscripts in a museum. Practice beings at 10 o’clock in the morning and lasts until noon, if it’s a long workout. Most of them are over in an hour or hour and a half. The players are quartered in the same hotel or lodging house, a practice that tends to promote team spirit, football knowledge and forestalls the organization of cliques that can be serious problems.
Afternoons are spent on the golf links, in theaters and other places of amusement, but not in work. It’s a great life.
Salary? Well, none of them ever retire on their football earnings, for the average pay check is $2,5000 per season. Nobody plays for less than $100 a game, and nobody plays for more than $5,000. But they’re only occupied with football on an average of three months in the year and the rest of the time can be spent in lucrative occupations.
The line-up includes veterinarians, dentists, doctors, undertakers, real estate men, etc. Their average span in pro competition is seven years, so you can readily see it is no game for a gent with get-rich quick aspirations.”
And so on and so forth.