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George Preston Marshall
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Sports Executive
    (October 11, 1896-August 9, 1969)
    Born in Grafton, West Virginia
    Owner and President of the Washington Redskins (1932-69)
    Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1963)
    He tended to micromanage the Redskins.
    He managed to throw away the team’s first round draft pick on the same player two years in a row without signing him: he chose UCLA’s Cal Rossi in 1945 (when Rossi still had a year of college left) and 1946 (when he discovered what the other owners already knew: that Rossi had no interest in playing professionally).
    He was called ‘the leading racist in the NFL.’
    He was the last NFL owner to integrate his team (1962).
    He did so only after Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall threatened to cancel the Redskins’ lease on government-owned DC Stadium if the team continued violating federal non-discrimination laws.
    In his will, he established a charitable foundation in his name, with the condition that the foundation could not spend any money for ‘any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.’
    He introduced halftime shows, marching bands, and fight songs – already common in college football – to the NFL.
    He and Bears coach George Halas convinced the NFL to open up the game by allowing a forward pass to be thrown from any point behind the line of scrimmage, instead of the minimum five yards behind the line that had been the rule.
    He lobbied for standardized schedules so each team played the same number of games, and for dividing the NFL into divisions with the divisional winners meeting in a championship game.
    He was the first NFL owner to arrange for his team’s games to be broadcast on television.
    NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle said about him, ‘His fertile imagination and vision brought vital improvements to the structure and presentation of the game. Pro football today does in many ways reflect his personality. It has his imagination, style, zest, dedication, openness, brashness, strength and courage. We all are beneficiaries of what his dynamic personality helped shape over more than three decades.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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