Yesterday, I indulged an un-common working-man habit, and looked into a typical American day’s burning news-issue. In the Year of our Lords’ Robert Griffin III and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, and in the name of attack-Apache helicopters, I decided to research the roots of NFL Franchise known controversially today as the Washington Redskins. As Mr. Leonard Peltier sits in a Federal penitentiary lock-up, with little hint in the Media about unjust imprisonment, and being solidly pro-Original Peoples, I decided to trace the roots of the Washington Redskins who made it into this past season’s NFL playoffs and choked to the ground in the first round.
The morning after such loss, I went into my favorite Scranton diner for eggs and bacon, with a sincere intent to console a young waitress who often fashioned a Redskin jersey, number-10, Robert Griffin III’s. Sad, glum, she said, “Why the (expletive) did they leave RGIII in the game so long? Couldn’t they turn to the white back-up?”
“O,” I replied, “I thought the Redskin sub was Donovan McNabb.”
“No more,” replied the hard-bitten waitress. “Where the (expletive) have you been? He’s talking-shit for the Eagles now on Comcast. You bet the ‘Skins will be back next year, eh, wise guy, Mr. Chuck?”
Downcast, I paid my bill, left a dollar-tip, grabbed a Scranton Times-Tribune newspaper, and went to work. Scanning the sports page, always first, I noted that the Redskins, as Washington’s mascot, might be soon history. Ironically, my “career” path for the day lead me to Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and while visiting a local bar and restaurant at lunch-time, I chatted with an elderly patron who drank a local Yuengling draft beer, and continued to mourn the Washington Redskins play-off game loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
He said, “O yea — kid, bad luck – but you know what else? We once had a championship NFL team in around 1925, they got screwed by big-shits, called themselves the Pottsville Maroons, and you know what else matters, kid? Old ‘Doc’ Striegel purchased the whole Pottsville Eleven for $1,500.00!”
“Jeepers,” I replied, “Doc made-out better than the colonists who bought Manhattan Island on sale.”
“O yea kid, those Redskin players spikes probably cost more than $1,500.00.”
I looked at my Wal Mart steel-toe boots, not too shabby, cost less than fifty bucks. I bought the guy another Yuengling, and I began to speak about my heritage as part Polander and part Austro-Hungarian Empire. The gent proudly told me he’s “Heinz 57,” and he thought he had “a little Jew and Indian” in him. Cheered with diversity, I explained how as a kid I did not like others calling me a dumb-Pollock, and I assured him I got over that stigma when I read a book about Polish Underground activities after September 1939.
“O yeah – I heard about those tough-mothers. Took no shit from Gestapo and I’ll bet, put pads and muscle-on ‘em, they’d beat both Ravens and the 49ers in Super Bowl (??) put together… er whatever Roman number they call it anymore? What’s up with that schooley-boy number-shit? Roman numerals? I tell ‘ya, kid, give me the Pottsville Eleven and three-points, and I’d take the Maroons over the Redskins anytime. In fact, I would quick re-name the goddamn ‘Skins the Maroons, and put all this stupid-crap to bed.”
The Washington Maroons? This would be one way to thank elected officials for abandoning the people.
But tonight, some spare time, I decided to investigate the elderly gentleman’s history about current Washington Redskin NFL franchise and perhaps verify the team’s roots in the fabled Pottsville Maroons. Abandoning traditional modes of study and research, I took the “easy way” to knowledge and spreading the wealth and consulted Wikipedia.1
Yes, Buffalo Bill – the Washington Redskins team are indeed rooted in the coal-town, Pottsville, Pa, mascot Maroons, established 1920, and fielded a roster mostly made-up from the Yorkville Fire and Hose Company. O yea, that’s volunteer fire fighters – take that Rudy Giuliani. And here today (what’s more) multi-millionaire failed-QB, Tim Tebow, is glorified for bending knee in prayer at games, in front of national TV, of course, and after shower-time, dwelt nowhere near Queens Borough housing which Frankenstorm Sandy nearly buried, around Halloween, 2012.
According to Wikipedia the Pottsville Maroons begot such mascot name for “no apparent reason,” and according to “legend,” the team placed an order for new football jerseys with local sporting-goods supplier Joe Zacko, presaging modern-day outrageously priced NFL jerseys , and emphasizing that “color was not important to us.” Mr. Joe Zacko promptly sent the team twenty five maroon jerseys. All this at a time when Home Shopping Network, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Fed Ex, Mohegan Sun Casino, and TARP were just a dream.
For the record, the Maroons were typically American, successful. In 1925, Jim Thorpe’s body laid to rest in Jim Thorpe, Pa, they won the NFL championship, and pro football Hall of Famer, Mr. Red Grange, described the team as “the most ferocious and most respected players I have ever faced.” I recall the old gent at the Pottsville bar describing the players as competing on a “small high-school field, they hired a lot of gutsy and beer-drinking ass-kickers, including a soldier-boy shot-up in WW II, on some beach-place in North Africa.” Eventually, as usual for modern-American bread and circuses BAIT and SWITCH tactics, the perennial habit of turning sport heroes into bums over-night, the NFL league Commissioner engaged a money skirmish with Pottsville-team owner, John Streigel, and the Maroons were stripped of their championship season.
Skip forward, Africom engages North Africa, indigenous peoples dispossessed.
Today, economically stunned Pottsville citizens still embrace and honor the Maroon legacy. Winter 2013, I learned the owner of a local embroidery shop makes Maroons T-shirts and distributes them to residents and fans. Personally, I’d like to get one, instead of a Washington Redskin jersey, which, come next year, might very well be extinct. Ex-Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has lobbied NFL owners to restore the Pottsville Maroon NFL championship title. Just like G.W. Bush used to daily bash Mr. WMD-less Saddam, Mr. Rendell called NFL owners “a group of cowardly bastards.”
A Pennsylvanian, I wish Ed and current Governor Tom Corbett would lobby President Obama and Congress to free Leonard Peltier.
A very odd night in Scranton area. As I write, a news report signals that someone was arrested for delivering cocaine disguised in pizza boxes to local consumers. Passerby’s indicated the stuff “never smelled tomato-red,” and delivery-men handled the “cocaine-pies” with extra caution. The Redskin-mascot controversy persists on www.drudgereport.com. What is to be done? Fourth and ten, I’ll take a gram of cocaine with onions to-go, and noting former Chicago Bull, all-star forward, Mr. Dennis Rodman’s recent breakthrough with North Korea’s new and inflamed dictator, I sincerely support Mr. Rodman’s fast-track appointment as mediator for the Washington Redskin existential threat to western civilization and our way of life.
- In 2006, David Fleming authored the book Breaker Boys: The NFL’s Greatest Team and the stolen 1925 Championship. [↩]