In July of 1932, the NFL awarded a team to the city of Boston after the Newark Tornadoes folded
and the franchise was sold back to the NFL. The ownership group for the new franchise was
headed by a man with little football background, George Preston Marshall, a businessman from Washington D.C. Marshall was known for his flair for promotion and his persuasive communication skills. He pioneered gala halftime pageants, organized team bands,
and sponsored progressive rule changes, such as splitting NFL into two divisions with title playoff.
The team would play at Braves Field, and so they took the name Boston Braves. The Boston "Football" Braves made their debut on October 2nd losing at home
to the Brooklyn Dodgers. A week later the Braves would beat the New York Giants, 14-6, for their first win. Despite the presence of two rookies, halfback, Cliff Battles and tackle
Glen “Turk” Edwards, the new franchise's losses during the first season reached $46,000.
The Braves would go on to complete their first season with a 4-4-2 record under Coach Lud Wray.
The team losing money in it's inaugural season,
prompting Marshall to take sole ownership of the team the
following year. He moved the team to Fenway Park in July
of 1933. He introduced a
new head coach named Lone Star Dietz. Dietz was a Sioux Indian, and played at the
Carlisle Indian Industrial School of
Carlisle, Pennsylvania. There he was a teammate of
Jim Thorpe, under famed coach Pop Warner. Dietz became the 14th head
college football coach for the
Washington State University Cougars located in
Pullman, Washington, a position he held for three seasons, from 1915 until 1917. His coaching record at Washington State was 17 wins, 2 losses, and 1 tie. As of the conclusion of the 2007 season, this ranks him eighth at Washington State in
total wins and third at Washington State in winning percentage (.875) He also led Washington State to its only
Rose Bowl win in 1916. Dietz also coached at
Purdue University, the
University of Wyoming, Louisiana Tech University, and
Albright College. Marshall changed the team's official name to the Boston Redskins
to honor him.
LONE STAR DIETZ
The Redskins would alternate wins and losses all season and would finish with a 5-5-2 record. However, one impressive feat during the season was Cliff Battle's performance against the Giants on
October 8, 1933, where he rushed 16 times for 215 yards, and scored one touchdown and became the first player ever to rush for more than 200 yards in a game. In 1934, the Redskins continued to alternate wins and losses finishing in second place with a 6-6 record. Following the
season Coach Lone Star Dietz was replaced by former Tufts and Harvard head coach, Eddie Casey. In 1935, the Redskins split their first two games before going into a season long scoring slump, posting only 23 during a seven game losing streak. The Redskins would post a win and a
tie in their final two games, finishing with a 2-8-1 record, while only scoring 65 points on the season.
The Redskins best year in Boston came in 1936. In that draft, the
Redskins chose Riley Smith and Wayne Millner, who became a large part of their offense. Another big addition that came in 1936, is when Marshall hired future Hall-of-Famer Ray Flaherty as head coach to replace Eddie Casey.
Among his innovations, Flaherty is credited with inventing the screen pass. After playing mediocre football most of the season, the Redskins won their final three games to
capture the Eastern Division Championship with a 7-5 record. The stars of the three game Division winning streak were the defense who allowed only six points while the Skins out scored their opponents 74-6. However, a big disappointment came in their 30-0 win over the Pittsburgh
Pirates in the next to last game of the season, when only 4,813 fans showed up to watch them at Fenway Park. Owner George Preston Marshall was so enraged he gave up home field for the NFC Championship Game, choosing to face the Packers at New York's Polo Grounds. The Redskins were
never really in the game as the Packers won the Championship with a 21-6 victory. The team would never play another game in Boston and moved to Washington D.C.
One of the reasons the Redskins didn’t draw, is because
the fans felt that ownership didn't care about them at the very beginning of the season. The fans found the entire grandstand reserved and the price of
admission raised for the first home game. Those fans, who sat in the unreserved section in 1935, were forced to sit out on the field in 1936 for the general admission price.
Also, the competition
in Boston that year was the Shamrocks of the new American Football League. The
Shamrocks were a winning team, who won the league championship, outdrawing the Redskins with a lower ticket price. Before leaving Boston, however, the Redskins made one more big addition that helped their
franchise for years to come. The addition came after the 1937 NFL
Draft on December 12, 1936, when they signed an innovative rookie quarterback from Texas Christian University,
CLIFF BATTLES (1932-1936) ...
Battles. the Boston Redskins' biggest star, got many offers from NFL teams including the New York Giants and Portsmouth Spartans. but he signed with the Boston Braves in 1932, who offered him $175 per game, compared with a high of $150 from the other teams. In 1932, Battles won the NFL's rushing title as a rookie. He also performed well during the 1933 season and on October 8, 1933,
Battles, playing for the newly-named Boston Redskins, became the first player to exceed 200 rushing yard in a game, finishing with 215 yards on 16 rushes and one touchdown against the Giants.
In Washington in 1937, Sammy Baugh and Battles combined their talents just as everyone had anticipated.
During their last regular-season game, Battles scored three touchdowns and the Washington Redskins beat the Giants for the Eastern Division title.
In the 1937 NFL Championship against the
Chicago Bears a week later, Battles scored the first touchdown in a 28-21 victory that gave the Redskins their first NFL
title. In what would end up being his last regular-season game on December 5, 1937, Battles ran for 165 yards against the Giants at the Polo
Grounds. This was the record for most rushing yards for a player in the final regular-season game of his NFL career until
Tiki Barber broke the record on December 30, 2006 with 234 rushing yards. Battles was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.