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The Ugly Legacy Of George Preston Marshall

by Tom King

There will be protesters outside Lambeau Field on Sunday. The Wisconsin Indian Education Association is holding a forum today at UWGB and will demonstrate before the Packer game on Sunday. They object to the name of the Washington franchise in the NFL. This commentary is not going to dwell on whether or not the term "Redskins" is offensive and racist...it is. The better discussion is why so many people including the Washington owner and members of the NFL office as well as so many fans don't see it that way.

Earlier this week league spokesman Brian McCarthy said "the name from its origin has always intended to be positive and has always been used by the team in a highly respected manner". I wonder if he really believes that or is just picking up a public relations paycheck?

Because if he really believes that and I know some of you do as well...he and you need to do a little homework on the man who named the team.

George Preston Marshall bought the Boston Braves and moved them to Washington...and George Preston Marshall may have been the most virulent racist in American Sports history...if not number 1 at least in the top 2.

The name was given to the team in a mocking manner after an early coach who may have had a mother who was part Sioux. Marshall once made his coach wear a headress and war-paint.

Marshall was one of a group of owners that kept African-Americans from playing in the NFL from 1933-1946 and Washington was the last integrated team and only did it in 1961 because the federal government owned the land that their new stadium was built on and the Kennedy administration was able to enforce federal laws against discrimination.

And Marshall, when he died in 1969, left a big chunk of his money for a foundation in his name with only one condition...that not a single dollar go toward any purpose which supports racial integration in any form.

Current Washington owner Dan Snyder is Jewish and you would think he has some knowledge and experience with discrimination and stereotyping and yet he says he will never change the name of the team.

Michael Tomansky in an excellent piece from The Daily Beast says "Redskins lasts only because white people don't know it's offensive and don't particularly care to stop it and think about why it might be".

That the clear and open racism of George Preston Marshall continues to this day because of the casual racism of so many Americans is sad. And for owner Dan Snyder to continue this legacy is odius.

So enjoy the game on Sunday and ignore the blatant racism that's right in front of your face...because if you're one of those who can't or won't see that the term "Redskins" is racist....that says more about you than you probably care to admit.