Brown showed Redskins fans what they were missing

Brown showed Redskins fans what they were missing
February 15, 2012, 7:04 pm
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Although it remains pure speculation, its safe to guess a lot of the 32,086 people who showed up at Griffith Stadium on Oct. 30, 1960, had other things on their minds instead of the Redskins.

John F. Kennedy was 10 days from defeating Richard Nixon in the presidential election.

The Redskins were in the midst of a one-win season and in the middle of nine straight losing years.

And the opponent featured the NFLs best player: Clevelands Jim Brown.

And covering the game was the Districts premier sports columnist Shirley Povich of The Washington Post who wrote a passage that is still remembered in general but in particular during Black History Month.

During an otherwise ordinary game, Brown scored his only touchdown during a 31-10 Cleveland victory. The Redskins were the only NFL team at the time without an African-American player, an edict handed down by owner George Preston Marshall.

Povich took consistent and accurate pokes at Marshall for his absurd policy, and Browns touchdown was another chance.

In the next days Post, Povich wrote:

From 25 yards out, Brown was served the ball by Milt Plum on a pitch-out and he integrated the Redskins' goal line with more than deliberate speed, perhaps exceeding the famous Supreme Court decree. Brown fled the 25 yards like a man in an uncommon hurry and the Redskins' goal line, at least, became interracial.

Brown rushed 12 times for 60 yards in the game. Plum was 14-of-19 passing for 204 yards. The Redskins would finish the year 1-9-2.

Nearly two decades after Kenny Washington broke the racial barrier with the Los Angeles Rams, the Redskins followed suit after the government told Marshall to cease his whites only policy.

On March 24, 1961, Interior Secretary Steward Udall gave Marshall the order. The Redskins were under the threat of civil action because their new home D.C. Stadium (later re-named RFK Stadium) was on federal government property.

The Redskins finally integrated by drafting several African-American players and acquiring future Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell from, yep, Cleveland.

Shortly after arriving in Washington, Mitchell was dining with Washington Star columnist Mo Siegel.

Excuse me, are you Bobby Mitchell, with the Redskins? a man asked Mitchell.

Yes, Mitchell replied.

The man spit in Mitchells glass of water.

Mitchell was joined in 1962 by African-American players Charley Taylor, Larry Brown, Brig Owens and John Nisby and the Redskins went 5-7-2, their best record in five years. Mitchell, after a move to receiver, led the NFL with 11 touchdowns.

Things obviously improved for Mitchell and Co. he spent 40 years with the Redskins as a player or executive before a rocky exit nine years ago.

The Redskins wouldnt make the playoffs for another 11 years. But they had joined the rest of pro football by integrating their roster not just their end zone.
Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com.