Chapter 1, Page 8

Flaherty served as an assistant coach with the Giants in 1935 as well as a player, before Marshall named him head coach of the Boston Redskins. Marshall had been the principal proprietor and then sole owner of the team since 1932, and Flaherty became its fourth coach in five years. In 1935, the Redskins had lost eight games while winning only two and tying one. They were a financially troubled franchise, usually playing almost in privacy — to relatives, friends and diehards — at Fenway Park. As Boston football fans watched popular games at Harvard, Boston College and nearby Holy Cross, Flaherty reconstructed the Redskins in his first year and, with 11 rookies, led the pro team to the NFL's 1936 Eastern Division title with a 7-5 record. He could coach.

Flaherty also had a mind of his own, and in early August of 1937 he was preoccupied with the coming season. It hadn't occurred to him to write or call Espey or Marshall. He was busy working. Flaherty wanted to win the 1937 league title as much as the owner did. Marshall, known for his volubility and salesmanship, had been telling everyone he encountered, including passersby on Washington streets, of the Redskins' fabulous prospects for 1937, all the while trying to peddle tickets to anyone he could. It was the circumspect Flaherty, though, who had to make the championship happen.

Presumed missing, he was aboard a train from Spokane to Chicago, on a mission: He was headed to see Sammy Baugh. "Slingin' Sammy," the passing master out of Texas Christian University, would be playing for the College All-Stars in Chicago against the NFL champion Green Bay Packers, who had beaten the Boston Redskins, 21-6, in the 1936 title game.

At the NFL's college draft that year, five teams incomprehensibly had passed up the opportunity to take Baugh: Brooklyn, Pittsburgh (the team that later would let Johnny Unitas go), Philadelphia, the Chicago Cardinals and the Giants. The Redskins had been able to snare him, an extraordinary stroke of luck. Indeed, the first telegraphic message ever sent, out of Washington, could have applied to the Redskins' fortunes that draft day: "What hath God wrought?" Baugh would become a football giant and the cornerstone of the Washington franchise.

So Flaherty went to pay a courtesy call in Chicago. He also wanted to throw in a few words of friendly persuasion so that Baugh would sign a contract soon. He knew that Baugh already had signed to play pro baseball as well, with a promise that he could pursue a gridiron career during football season.

Baugh was a special football talent in good part because of his college coach. To be sure, Baugh was a natural who could do more things well on a football field — pass, kick, run, tackle — than any other player. But TCU's Dutch Meyer told him things he'd

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Other Pages in Chapter 1:
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42

Table of Contents
Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
Names, Numbers
Trivia Quiz

Redskins | NFL | Sports

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