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Washington Redskins

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Washington Redskins, professional football team and one of five teams in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football League (NFL). The Redskins play at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, and wear uniforms of burgundy, gold, and white. In professional football’s early days, Washington was one of the game’s most powerful clubs, capturing two league crowns and posting ten consecutive winning records from 1936 to 1945. Leading the Redskins’ high-scoring offense were two-time rushing champion Cliff Battles and six-time passing champion Sammy Baugh—both eventual Hall of Fame members. The Redskins consistently fielded potent teams from 1971 to 1992, reaching the playoffs 13 times, competing in five Super Bowls, and winning three of them during that period. Washington’s many stars included safety Ken Houston, quarterbacks Sonny Jurgensen and Joe Theismann, wide receivers Art Monk and Charley Taylor, and running back John Riggins. George Preston Marshall founded the Redskins franchise in 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts, as the Boston Braves, sharing Braves Field with the Boston Braves baseball team. A year later, Marshall moved his team to Fenway Park and changed the team’s name to the Redskins. The Redskins were not profitable, and even an Eastern Division championship in 1936 failed to excite Boston fans, so in 1937 Marshall moved the club to Washington, D.C. The team found success in its new home. From 1936 to 1942 head coach Ray Flaherty led the Redskins to seven consecutive winning records and three appearances in the NFL Championship Game. Washington faced the Chicago Bears in all three contests, posting narrow victories in 1937 and 1942 and suffering a 73-0 defeat in 1940. During the 1937 title match Flaherty introduced the screen pass. In such a pass, the offensive linemen run downfield in front of the running back instead of blocking for the quarterback. The quarterback then throws a short pass to the running back and the linemen form a screen, blocking downfield to gain yardage. This strategy has since become a standard offensive play. Flaherty’s talented offensive unit boasted four future Hall of Fame members—halfback Cliff Battles, quarterback Sammy Baugh, tackle Turk Edwards, and end Wayne Millner. In addition to his six passing crowns, the versatile Baugh also led the league in punting five times and interceptions once. His career punting average of 45.1 yards is the highest ever compiled in NFL history. The Redskins suffered a 25-season playoff drought from 1946 through 1970, posting just four winning records and changing head coaches 11 times during that span. Noteworthy individual achievements during this period included wide receiver Bobby Mitchell’s yardage championships in 1962 and 1963 and league-leading performances in 1966 and 1967 by quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and wide receiver Charley Taylor. In 1971 former Los Angeles Rams coach George Allen took over as head coach of the Redskins. He dramatically reshaped the team through a series of trades for seasoned veteran players. The retooled Redskins, known as the Over the Hill Gang, recorded nine victories, the most by a Washington team in 29 years. In his seven seasons with the club, Allen produced seven winning records, five playoff appearances, and one trip to the Super Bowl. Washington’s Super Bowl appearance was in 1973, when the Miami Dolphins defeated them 14-7. The team remained successful throughout the 1970s, and in 1976 Allen traded for the rights of two players who would be the key to Washington’s success in the 1980s—Joe Theismann and John Riggins. In 1981 former San Diego Chargers assistant coach Joe Gibbs was hired to improve the Redskins’ passing game. In his 12 seasons as Washington’s head coach, Gibbs delivered ten winning records, eight playoff appearances, and three Super Bowl championships. Gibbs earned his first league crown following the strike-shortened season of 1982, during which Theismann led the conference in passing and the Redskins fielded the league’s toughest defense. Washington defeated Miami 27-17 in the Super Bowl, led by Riggins’s Super Bowl-record 166 rushing yards. During the mid-1980s the Redskins dominated the NFC. They were led by Theismann until a broken leg sustained during a 1985 game forced his retirement. Washington’s defense emerged as one of the finest in the NFL, led by ends Dexter Manley and Charles Mann. The defense was especially key in the 1987 season, when the Redskins finished the year with an 11-4 win-loss record and defeated the Denver Broncos 42-10 in the Super Bowl. In 1991 Gibbs assembled one of the most explosive offensive units in NFL history. Quarterback Mark Rypien led the NFC in yardage, and running back Earnest Byner and wide receivers Gary Clark and Art Monk each topped the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Washington also fielded the second-toughest defensive unit in the league. After the season the Redskins routed the Buffalo Bills 37-24 in the Super Bowl. Gibbs left the Redskins following the 1992 season and was replaced by assistant Richie Petitbone. After a year, Petitbone was replaced by former Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Norv Turner. The Redskins were one of the weaker teams in the league for much of the mid- and late 1990s, but they rebounded in 1999 and won their division.

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