A football team based in Washington, D.C., the Washington Redskins are a professional American football team. The Redskins are a member of the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football League (NFL) and have won two NFL championships (1937 and 1942) and three Super Bowls (1983, 1988, and 1992).
The Boston Braves were founded in 1932 and played three seasons as the Boston Redskins before moving to Washington, D.C., in 1937. The team changed its name the following year.
Sammy Baugh was drafted by the Redskins in the sixth round of the NFL draught that year, making him one of the team’s most recognisable players. In his rookie season, Baugh led the Redskins to a championship and set numerous NFL passing records.
In 1942, the Redskins won their second NFL championship, defeating the Chicago Bears 73–0, two years after losing the championship game 73–0 to the Bears.
As one of the NFL’s wealthiest teams, the Washington Redskins used their considerable resources under owner and Hall of Famer George Preston Marshall to pioneer sports broadcast media.
When they began broadcasting Redskins games on the radio in 1944, they were able to cover the entire season on television by 1950. Since 1967, the Redskins have sold out every home game, an NFL record for consecutive seasons with a sold-out crowd. The team also has some of the most devoted fans.
Redskins media hegemony came at a time when the team was having its least successful run ever: the Redskins had just four winning seasons from 1946 to 1970 and failed to make the playoffs in each of those years.
Sonny Jurgensen and Bobby Mitchell, two of the greatest Redskins players of the 1960s, were both inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame in 1983. First-year coach George Allen led the team to a playoff berth in his first season in charge of the team.
At their best under Allen, the Redskins won the NFC title in 1972 with wide receiver Charley Taylor and linebacker Chris Hanburger, only to lose the Super Bowl the following January to the undefeated Miami Dolphins.
Redskins hired Joe Gibbs as head coach in 1981, and he has won more games than any other Redskins coach in history. Among Gibbs’ accomplishments are eight trips to the playoffs, four NFC titles, and three Super Bowl triumphs (1983, 1988, 1992).
The fact that each of the Redskins Super Bowl-winning teams was led by a different quarterback is a testament to Gibbs’s coaching ability and the overall quality of his teams.
As a member of the Redskins’ Super Bowl-winning team, John Riggins (running back), Art Monk (wide receiver), and Darrell Green (cornerback)—all future Hall of Famers—were all instrumental in the team’s success. After Gibbs stepped down as head coach in 1993, the team went 3-13 in his final seasons.
First purchased by billionaire Daniel Snyder in 1999, Jack Kent Cooke’s Washington Redskins had been owned outright since 1985 by the flamboyant Cooke, who was replaced by billionaire Snyder in his first decade in charge. Robert Griffin III’s stellar rookie season led to a 10-6 record in 2012, but the team lost its first playoff game.
Following that playoff defeat, Griffin was sidelined for the remainder of the season, which saw his team go 0-13 and finish last in the NFC. After Griffin struggled in 2014, the Redskins turned to Kirk Cousins as their starting quarterback, and Cousins led the team to a division title in 2015.
There were three more third-place divisional finishes and a dismal 3–13 finish in 2019 after that playoff appearance, which proved to be an anomaly for the team.
There had been a lot of debate about the team’s name for decades—protesters thought it had racist connotations, while supporters said it reflected the team’s pride in its Native American heritage—which came to a head in 2014.
The team’s trademark on the name was cancelled by the US Patent Office in June of that year because the term was derogatory to Native Americans. In the face of the team’s appeal, Snyder insisted on keeping the name.
A similar appeal heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in October 2016 resulted in a ruling in June 2017 striking down the U.S. government’s ban on offensive trademark registrations on First Amendment grounds, but the team’s appeal was not heard.