Redskins Historian

Redskins Historian I'm the official Redskins historian, and I've authored two comprehensive books on Redskins history -- The Redskins Encyclopedia and the Washington Redskins Football Vault.
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Please visit my Web site at www.redskinshistorian.com. Redskins Historian is Mike Richman, who is Mr. Multimedia when it comes to the iconic sports franchise in the nation's capital. He's also no stranger to fans of the burgundy and gold. Mike is the foremost authority on Redskins history and has authored two books on the storied franchise: The Redskins Encyclopedia and the Washington Redskins Foo

Please visit my Web site at www.redskinshistorian.com. Redskins Historian is Mike Richman, who is Mr. Multimedia when it comes to the iconic sports franchise in the nation's capital. He's also no stranger to fans of the burgundy and gold. Mike is the foremost authority on Redskins history and has authored two books on the storied franchise: The Redskins Encyclopedia and the Washington Redskins Foo

VINCE PROMUTO: I was saddened to learn that Vince Promuto, a Redskins standout at guard in the 1960s, passed away last w...
06/07/2021

VINCE PROMUTO: I was saddened to learn that Vince Promuto, a Redskins standout at guard in the 1960s, passed away last week at age 82. He was named to the Redskins' 70 Greatest Team that was announced in 2002 to honor the best players in franchise history. Last week, I nominated Promuto for induction into the Pro Football Researchers Association's "Hall of Very Good" all-time NFL players. Other Redskin greats, such as Larry Brown and Ron McDole, have already been inducted.

Promuto, undersized for his time at 6-1, 245 pounds, played his entire 11-year NFL career for the Redskins (1960-1970). He made the Pro Bowl twice (63 and 64) and provided pass protection for Sonny Jurgensen, who lit the skies in the 1960s to establish himself as one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. Promuto was a brutal blocker by today’s standards. He’d clothesline defenders and try to knock others out of games by aiming for their knees, two illegal techniques today. He said about the only thing one couldn’t do then was leg-whip an opponent, which involved hitting someone on the shins with the back of your heel.

Promuto played for only one winning team, the Vince Lombardi-coached Redskins that finished 7-5-2 in 1969, the franchise's first winning season since 1955. A native of the Bronx, N.Y, he enjoyed imitating the bullhorn-voiced Lombardi, who also grew up in New York City. In an interview for my book The Redskins Encyclopedia, Promuto shared the following about the legendary coach:

“He’d yell, `What the hell is going on around here.’ I could imitate him to a T. Once in a while he’d be near the locker room and hear me and look at me like, `You son of a bitch, you.’ ”

Of the five Redskin head coaches Promuto played for, he admired Lombardi the most by far. But as the militaristic coach ran his players to exhaustion in practice before the 1969 season, Promuto nearly called it quits. This quote is one of my all-time favorites:

“I went to see Lombardi one night in training camp,” Promuto said. “I said, `Coach, I’m no Mack truck or anything. I’m a human being. You’re screaming and yelling, and I’m not going to take it.’ What he said completely disarmed me. He went ‘ha ha, ha. You Italians are all the same. You get too emotional.’ Once I knew he had compassion, I could take anything he was willing to shove out.”

One personal story about Promuto: In 2007, he invited me and my family for an afternoon on his yacht in south Florida. It was a lot of fun learning more about a man who grew up on the mean streets of New York, didn't play football until his junior year of high school, and became one of the best offensive linemen in Redskins history. Rest in peace, Vince.

These photos show Promuto blocking in 1969 for Larry Brown, who was a rookie at the time, and Lombardi at a D.C. press conference where he was announced as the Redskins' coach.

MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER: I didn't want the week the pass by without noting that the death at age 77 of Marty Schottenheimer...
02/12/2021

MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER: I didn't want the week the pass by without noting that the death at age 77 of Marty Schottenheimer. What a great NFL coach! Over 21 seasons, he won 61% of his games with 13 postseason appearances. He also goes down as one of the best motivational coaches in NFL history, with inspirational and fiery pre- and post-game speeches like "THERE'S A GLEAM. LET'S GET THE GLEAM." Perhaps his greatest coaching job was in his lone season in Washington: 2001. Old-school, no-frills Marty stripped the Redskins of their glitz and glamour from the year before with players like Deion Sanders and Jeff George and refitted them with a hard-working blue-collar image. Those Redskins started the season 0-5, looking lifeless at times and getting blown out by the Chargers, Packers, and Chiefs in the first three games. But after once-disgruntled players like Darrell Green bought into "Marty ball," the Redskins won 8 of their last 11 games to finish 8-8, the same trajectory the 1981 Redskins took in Joe Gibbs' first season. Marty did it with a journeyman quarterback, Tony Banks, under center for most of the year. Unfortunately, he was fired at the end of the season to make room for pass-happy Steve Spurrier. Otherwise, he may have taken the Redskins to a championship level.

I interviewed Schottenheimer one-on-one before the season at Redskins Park for "American Football Coach" magazine, the article that is included in this post. I'll never forget when he said to me that his Redskins will be "competitive." I said, "What do you mean by competitive?" He looked me in the eye and said, "Competitive." He knew what he was talking about. Marty's Redskins showed spurts of dominance, evened their record at 5-5 with a 13-3 upset of the Eagles and Donovan McNabb in Philly, and entered the playoff race. They were the first team in NFL history to make that five-and-five turnaround.

Thanks for the memories, Marty Schottenheimer!!

A really nice piece today by Matt Parras of The Washington Times summarizing everything the WFT has had to endure this s...
01/08/2021
‘The Football Team’ gives franchise shot at moving past mistakes of past

A really nice piece today by Matt Parras of The Washington Times summarizing everything the WFT has had to endure this season on and off the field in its quest to reach the playoffs. He interviewed me for the article, and I told him this has been a "surreal season," one that I've never seen before in Redskins history. I told him the season in the team's history that compares the most to this year is 1971. George Allen took over a Redskins squad that was still reeling from the death of Vince Lombardi and led them to the playoffs with a 9-4-1 record. Check it out: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2021/jan/7/washingtons-playoff-game-helps-restore-standing-di/

So much has changed for Washington’s NFL team in the past year — new nickname, new coaches, new executives — that Saturday night’s wild-card game at FedEx Field can sometimes feel like the club’s first-ever trip to the playoffs.

WE CONTROL OUR OWN DESTINY: That's where I'll begin as the 6-9 WFT enters its season-finale this Sunday at the 4-10-1 Ea...
12/28/2020

WE CONTROL OUR OWN DESTINY: That's where I'll begin as the 6-9 WFT enters its season-finale this Sunday at the 4-10-1 Eagles. That's right. After two straight losses at home, we can still win the lowly NFC East by beating Philly. Otherwise, we need the Giants to lose or we're done.
With that said, so many questions are swirling about a team that is on the verge of clinching the division--and nearly all of them are about the QB position.
Dwayne Haskins, who we picked 15th in the first round in 2019, is now gone after two disastrous seasons. Was it the right for Rivera to cut him at this point? Why didn't he do it prior to the Seattle game last week? Will any other team sign him? I say nobody will sign him as a guaranteed starter. Any team that picks him up will only be responsible for the $5 million that remains on his contract over the next two seasons, meaning he'll be a backup at best.
What do we do with Alex Smith? If he's physically up to it, do we let him play out the final season in 2021 of his four-year contract? He's reportedly set to make $19 million next season. The WFT would have a sizeable dead cap hit if they cut him. So whether or not we keep Smith, do we go all-in for a QB this coming offseason either through the draft, free agency, or a trade, or do we wait until after the 2021 season? Can we count on Kyle Allen to be Smith's replacement?
The reality is the WFT is a game-managing, above-average QB away from being an 11-5, 10-6 team. I say that because this team sports a young, talented, hard-hitting defense that is one of the best in the league. It also has some nice pieces on offense, although the O-line could use some rebuilding.
Thoughts?
Thanks as always to my friend, sports photographer Ed Sheahin, for these excellent pictures from yesterday's game.

THE KANSAS COMET: NFL legend and Chicago Bears great Gale Sayers, also known as "The Kansas Comet," passed away earlier ...
09/25/2020

THE KANSAS COMET: NFL legend and Chicago Bears great Gale Sayers, also known as "The Kansas Comet," passed away earlier this week at age 77. He was suffering from dementia. I mention this not only to honor perhaps the most electrifying running back in NFL history, but also to note that the man whom I'm writing a biography about, George Allen, drafted Sayers in 1965.
Allen is widely remembered as the head coach who transformed the Los Angeles Rams into one of the league's most dominant teams in the mid to late 1960s and performed the same feat for the Washington Redskins from 1971 to 1977.
In 1965, a year before Allen went to L.A., he was the defensive coordinator and head talent scout (which would be the same as general manager today) of the Bears. In the first round of the draft, Allen orchestrated the greatest back-to-back selections in NFL history. The Bears chose Illinois linebacker Dick Butkus with the No. 3 pick and Sayers of Kansas at No. 4. Those acquisitions will forever leave football historians and enthusiasts in awe. Today, Butkus is regarded as the greatest middle linebacker ever, and Sayers is among the all-time best at his position. Not surprisingly, both were selected for the NFL Films 100 greatest team, which was announced last year. Plus, their Hall of Fame inductions mark the only time that two players from the same team who were selected with back-to-back picks have been enshrined—both on their first ballot, no less.
Dan Pompei, a long-time Chicago sportswriter and co-author of the Chicago Bears Centennial Scrapbook, told me this:
“How the Bears got Butkus and Sayers with the third and fourth picks, that’s something Oliver Stone might want to do a movie about,” he said in reference to the famed film director. “On a list of the greatest all-time football players, it would be impossible to have Butkus and Sayers out of the top 20. They would probably be in the top 10 for a lot of people, maybe even higher than that. To accomplish what the Bears accomplished, both in knowing the talent and being able to get Butkus and Sayers, was improbable and incredible.”
That same year, Allen signed Wake Forest running back Brian Piccolo, the leading rusher in the nation in 1964.
After playing mostly a backup role to Sayers in the coming seasons, Piccolo died in June 1970 from a virulent form of testicular cancer that had spread to his chest. He was immortalized in the tear-jerker 1971 TV movie “Brian’s Song,” which brought to life his close interracial friendship with Sayers.

REDSKINS NAME: To those of you who didn't hear my interview on all-sports D.C. radio station 106.7 yesterday on the Reds...
07/08/2020

REDSKINS NAME: To those of you who didn't hear my interview on all-sports D.C. radio station 106.7 yesterday on the Redskins' name controversy, here's the link: https://thefandc.radio.com/media/audio-channel/7720-hour-2-mark-maske-mike-richman
The interview runs from 18:40 to 27:15. My buddy Grant Paulsen, co-host of the show, invited me on to discuss the issue from a historical perspective. I hope I educated many people about the history of the word "Redskin," that in real life it was never meant to disparage Native Americans, only to honor them. The same goes for how the Washington Redskins have used the word over the years. To the best of my knowledge, only in old Western movies did the term have a negative connotation. That's how today the opponents of the name have come to believe that it offends Native Americans. Check out the interview and feel free to chime in with your thoughts. In the end, I hope Dan Snyder doesn't cave into the pressure to change the name.

Another iconic figure in Redskins lore has died. Joe Bugel, one of the greatest offensive line coaches in NFL history, p...
06/29/2020

Another iconic figure in Redskins lore has died. Joe Bugel, one of the greatest offensive line coaches in NFL history, passed away at age 80. Buges, the Redskins’ offensive line coach from 1981 to 1989, is most remembered for molding the "Hogs" into one of the most dominant offensive lines ever. That line was the backbone of the Joe Gibbs-1 glory period when the Redskins won three Super Bowls and stood as one of the elite NFL teams in the 1980s and early 90s.

Bugel helped make legendary Redskins running plays, such as “50 Gut” and “70 Chip,” work to perfection. In the most famous play in Redskins history, John Riggins ran 43 yards on "70 Chip" for the go-ahead TD in the Redskins' 27-17 win over the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. Animated and vocal, Bugel ran intense practices and taught exceptional run- and pass-blocking techniques.

"He was an outstanding coach,” Redskins offensive tackle Joe Jacoby, one of the original "Hogs," told me for my book, The Redskins Encyclopedia. “Great motivator, a very thorough technician. It was almost like being on the Radio City Rockettes because all of us had to step with the right foot on whatever play was called. That’s how meticulous he was in going through the films and grading us.”

After leaving the Redskins, Bugel served as head coach of the Cardinals for four seasons and of the Raiders for one, before returning to the Redskins for a second stint as assistant head coach-offense from 2004 to 2009.

R.I.P. Joe Bugel.

As many of you have heard, Redskins legend Bobby Mitchell just passed away. He was 84 years old.I had the honor of inter...
04/07/2020

As many of you have heard, Redskins legend Bobby Mitchell just passed away. He was 84 years old.

I had the honor of interviewing Mitchell several times and always found him to be a class act. One of the most exciting players to ever wear the burgundy and gold, he produced staggering numbers in his 11-year career: 7,954 receiving yards and 2,735 rushing yards, plus 2,690 on kickoff returns and 699 on punt returns. His 14,078 combined yards were the third-highest total in NFL history when he retired after the 1968 season, and his 91 touchdowns ranked fifth. He was inducted in 1983 into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which wrote: “Few offensive stars ever found more ways to inflict telling damage on a National Football League opponent than Bobby Mitchell.”

It's often said that Mitchell was the first black player to play for the Redskins. He was the first black superstar. After playing running back for four seasons in Cleveland, he was traded to the Redskins when the U.S. government forced the team to integrate its roster following the 1961 season. He was one of four African-American players who joined the Redskins at the time. Switched to flanker before the 1962 season, he caught at least 58 passes in his first six years in Washington, once leading the league in catches and twice in receiving yardage. Blessed with exceptional speed and acceleration, uncanny faking ability, and terrific lateral moves and balance, he was twice named All-Pro and played in the Pro Bowl three times while representing the Redskins. Many of his receptions in D.C. came on passes delivered by the golden arm of Sonny Jurgensen.

Following retirement, Mitchell served in the Redskins' front office for more than three decades in various capacities. They ranged from director of pro scouting, to assistant to the president, to assistant general manager,

“Bobby Mitchell was one of the greatest all-around ball players,” said Baltimore Colts Hall of Famer Lenny Moore, who also switched from running back to receiver in the same era as Mitchell. “Anybody who can transition himself and be one of the best in the business at both positions, that’s saying something, man.”

R.I.P Bobby Mitchell. You'll always be remembered as one of the giants in Redskins lore!

The photo of Bobby Mitchell at the 2013 Redskins alumni game is courtesy of sports photographer Ed Sheahin.

SAM WYCHE: I was saddened to hear of last week's passing of Sam Wyche. He's widely remembered as the fiery coach who too...
01/05/2020

SAM WYCHE: I was saddened to hear of last week's passing of Sam Wyche. He's widely remembered as the fiery coach who took the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII, where they lost to the 49ers on a last-second TD pass, and who scolded Bengals fans throwing snowballs with the words, "You don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati." His 8-year playing career included a stint as the Redskins' backup QB from 1971 to 1973. (In the photo in this post, which was shot during a 24-20 Redskins win over the Cowboys on Nov. 20, 1972, he's in the background with the single-bar facemask.) I interviewed the charismatic man in July for my upcoming biography on legendary Redskins coach George Allen. He sounded strong and articulate, several years after undergoing a heart transplant. But he developed metastatic melanoma, which doctors reportedly said they couldn't treat because of the medications he was on for his heart transplant. R.I.P Sam Wyche.

The Ron Rivera era has begun. There's a lot to be excited about with a new coach who crafted a .546 winning percentage o...
01/03/2020

The Ron Rivera era has begun. There's a lot to be excited about with a new coach who crafted a .546 winning percentage over eight seasons in Carolina (76-63-1), with four trips to the playoffs, including an appearance in Super Bowl 50, a 24-10 loss to the Broncos. He's inheriting a host of promising young players, such as QB Dwayne Haskins, WR Terry McLaurin, defensive linemen Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, and LB/DE Montez Sweat. Plus, the Redskins have the No. 2 pick in this year's draft. At the same time, I'm taking a measured approach to see how things play out starting with the 2020 season. One of Rivera's top priorities must be to transform the culture of the organization so the players know week after week what it takes to win. That means having a sense of focus and understanding their responsibilities every time they take the field--doing their job, in other words. With that in mind, his remarks at today's press conference that instilling discipline in his players--a critical element of success in any sport that was sorely lacking during the Jay Gruden regime--is imperative:

"Things will begin and end with one simple principle, discipline. I come from a military family where discipline isn’t taught, it’s lived. It’s expected from day one. I have a philosophy that every player, every coach, everyone who works for this organization, they’ll know it day one. You’re not going to play for this team, you’re not going to work for this team, if you don’t have the discipline to give us everything you have. No exceptions, no excuses. It’s that simple, guys. We have to hold each other accountable, and that’s something we most certainly will do. We’ll expect the most from each other."

Photos courtesy of Ed Sheahin. Thank you!

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Author of 2 books on Redskins history:
The Redskins Encyclopedia
The Washington Redskins Football Vault

Host & Producer of Redskins TV show: "Burgundy & Gold Magazine"
Host & Producer of Redskins podcast: "Burgundy & Gold Flashback"

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Fedex, Nike, Walmart, Target ,Dick sporting goods, Pepsi,etc have all stopped selling racist Redskin gear. You can still find them at your local Klu Klux Klan stores, just in the back next to the confederate flags.😂😂😂😂 Wouldn't it be great if Snyder's racism cause him to bankrupt and demolish the team because he was too racist to change a simple name. *Gregory St. James Mundy*
Dan Snyder & the NFL Owners- Isn’t Racism against Black people enough for you? To say that you are not a Racist because you claim that you are not offensive to Black people, while being offensive to Native Americans, only means that you are a RACIST! DICTIONARY.COM- N-WORD – Noun, A disparaging offensive contemptuous term used to refer to a black person. REDSKIN – [Red-skin] Noun, A disparaging offensive contemptuous term used to refer to a North American Indian. REDSKIN- just like deerskin, rabbit skin, etc. Native Americans were lynched and skin like animals. They hung their bodies up in trees to try to scare Native Americans off their lands. As they scalped them and sold their heads like an animal pelt for money. This is how the name REDSKIN came about. The same way they lynched and cut off Black men’s ge****ls to scare them. http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a29445/true-redskins-meaning/ Do we not already have enough to separate us in this country, questionable police shootings and modern-day lynching of unarmed Black men. Jewish synagogue and centers being attacked, and Black churches being burnt down. People shooting up malls, concerts and even schools due to outright hatred and racism! Shooting people in the streets simply because they do not want them in this country. I am sure just like you who see nothing wrong with your views on this name. They probably see nothing wrong with their actions as well. Shakespeare in a play once wrote " What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". Why is it so hard for you to change the name, or for the NFL and their sponsors (like FEDEX) continue to allow you to use it, unless it is simply because you are all Racist. - Gregory St. James Mundy -
Robert Cornelius Mitchell (June 6, 1935 – April 5, 2020) University of Illinois Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins. Mitchell became the Redskins' first African-American star after joining them in 1962. Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
STOP RACISM Racism question for the NFL.... DICTIONARY.COM REDSKIN – [Red-skin] Noun, A disparaging and offensive contemptuous term used to refer to a North American Indian. N-WORD – Noun, A disparaging and offensive contemptuous term used to refer to a black person. How can one be offensive and not the other? Racism is something that apply to all people, not just black people. You cannot say the N-word on the radio, tv, or even in the newspapers or internet. Yet, the FCC allow the offensive word against Native Americans to be broadcast freely all over the media. Can you tell me why this is so, we as Americans, must fight against all forms of Racism in this country. It is time to Change The Name, stop supporting Racism. Please pass this on through your facebook, twitter and all social media. http://redskin-racismcom.my-free.website http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a29445/true-redskins-meaning/