Sport: Powwow

3 minute read

Hall to the Redskins, Hail victory, Braves on the warpath, Fight for old D. C. . . .

Lustily singing this battle hymn, 10,000 Washingtonians jampacked ten special trains last week, journeyed to Manhattan. Marching up Broadway behind a 90-piece brass band decked in Indian costume, the hilarious invaders were amazed to see no excitement. Back home in Washington the rah-rah spirit was everywhere. On the streets, in the night clubs, at the movies, in the Supreme Court corridors, people were humming:

Scalp ’em, swamp ’em; We will take ’em big score, Read ’em, weep ’em, Touchdown we want heap more. . . .

Everyone from the White House gardeners to the Secretary of War knew of the impending battle between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants for the championship of the Eastern Division of the National (professional) Football League. In fact, Secretary of War Harry Woodring, Postmaster General Jim Farley and RFC Chairman Jesse Jones were among the red-feathered Washington in vaders.

What has made the Redskins the adopted alma mater of thousands of Washington residents is a simple formula: spectacular football and smart showmanship concocted in the right proportions by their Big Chief, George Preston Marshall. Big Chief Marshall has always done things with a flourish. When he inherited his father’s laundry 20 years ago (at 22), he in vented the slogan “Long Live Linen,” splashed it all over Washington, dressed his delivery boys in blue-&-gold livery, soon seemed to have a branch on almost every street corner and was washing the fanciest sheets and dressiest shirts in town.

When Laundryman Marshall decided to invest some of his profits in a professional football team (Boston Redskins) six years ago, he brought many innovations into the twelve-year-old National Football League. It was his idea to divide the league into two divisions, have a post-season play-off for the championship. He introduced red satin trousers for his players, entertainment at intermission. But Bostonians were apathetic to Showman Marshall’s ideas. After dropping $85,000 there, he transplanted his Redskins in Washington last year.

Washingtonians liked the Marshall whoopee between the halves: Indian war dances, shag contests, crooners, swing bands and the intricate maneuvers of his 90-piece marching band. Most of all they liked the latest Marshall innovation: a rah-rah song, Hail to the Redskins, with music by Barnee Breeskin, band leader at the swank Shoreham Hotel, and words by one-time Cinemactress Corinne Griffith (Declasse, The Lady in Ermine), wife of Big Chief Marshall. The nine other owners of big-league professional teams, well aware that the Redskins have attracted the largest crowds (440,000 in 13 games) this season, are considering rah-rah songs for next year.

Meanwhile, they watched with interest last week’s game at Manhattan’s Polo Grounds. The Redskins and the Giants had galloped down to the final game neck & neck, just as they had last year. Everyone knew the Giants were out to avenge last year’s 49-to-14 massacre—and go into the play-off with the Green Bay Packers for the U. S. championship. Avenge they did. Before 58,000 howling spectators, the Giants scored 14 points in the first twelve minutes, recovered fumbles and intercepted passes until they had put the Redskins to rout, 36-to-0. Although lacking Marshall music, war whoops and cow bells, the Giants fans had plenty of spirit. They ended the powwow by tearing down both goal posts while the Redskin rooters murmured a feeble rah.

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