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Posted at 4:47 PM ET, 12/ 8/2010

When the Redskins lost by 73

By Dan Steinberg

This maybe hasn't been a great week for the Redskins. They were pounded in New York. The playoff hopes died. There was more Haynesworth nonsense, and more angry fans.

But this was nothing like the week that happened 70 years ago. Seventy years ago Wednesday was the worst loss in franchise history.

That week started with great optimism, even though the visiting Chicago Bears were something like 7-5 favorites to win the pro football title. Expecting a record crowd, "police headquarters issued an urgent plea," The Post reported, asking fans to leave home early "in order to facilitate the movement of traffic." The gates opened at noon for a 1:30 kickoff, and police dialed up one of the largest deployments for any non-Presidential event, with 135 policemen and 50 plain clothesmen.

And the team, too, seemed primed for a win.

"The Redskins were doing everything but scalping one another yesterday as they awaited the fateful battle with the Bears," The Post sort of unbelievably reported on the day of the game.

"When you see them begin to snarl and snap at each other you can pretty well be sure they're at a final mental edge for that game," Skins Coach Ray Flaherty said.

Ticket prices were $2.20, $3.30 and $4.40, establishing a record net gate of around $102,000. And The Post was all over the bizarre pre-game details, like the fact that a $25,000 guarantee to the winner would be decided by coin flip if the game ended in a tie.

Well, the game didn't end in a tie.

"The Chicago Bears left no doubt about it yesterday -- they are the best the world has to offer in the way of professional football," The Post's Al Hailey began. "Here's why: Bears, 73; Redskins, 0."

He continued:

Unbelievable as it may seem, that's the tale the scoreboard told when the Chicagoans finished making a shambles out of the Redskins in the play-off for the championship of the Natioal Professional Football League.

It was the worst beating suffered by a team in the annals of the National League. Playing before a sellout crowd in Griffith Stadium, the Bears shocked 36,034 fans until the final gun with the most spectacular type of football ever seen in the District."

The Bears scored inside the first minute. There were eight interceptions, three returned for touchdowns. After their 10th touchdown, the Bears faked an extra point and converted the attempt to go up by 67. Washington actually had more first downs, but maybe that was just because the Bears kept winding up in the end zone -- they outgained Washington on the ground 372-3. The headline called it "Redskin Waterloo."

"It reminds us of our first breathless visit to the Grand Canyon," Shirley Povich wrote in the next day's paper. "All we could say is: 'There she is, and ain't she a beaut.' When they hung up that final score at Griffith Stadium yesterday, all we could utter was: 'There it is and wasn't it awful.' "

Povich said he couldn't be mad at the players, not after seeing them ashamed and in tears. One player, Charlie Malone, was taken to the hospital with three broken ribs and a possible bruised kidney. Another, Bob McChesney, broke his hand. Still, others were mad.

"Those guys out there today quit," owner George Preston Marshall said after the game, while apologizing to the fans. Of course, fans had pelted Marshall with torn programs during the second half, prompting him to come out and challenge one heckler, Povich reported.

Fans, too, complained about a post-game announcement concerning season-ticket applications.

"Mr. Marshall, long noted for his shrewdness, and his strategic maneuvers in bringing to Washington, a hick sports town, a championship professional football team, should have withheld this announcement until some 30,000 disappointed fans had gone home and slept off the blitzkrieg," one Post letter writer argued.

'Course, the news wasn't all bad. Sen. Byron Patton "Pat" Harrison Harrison (D-Miss.) made 83 bucks by betting $10 on the Bears plus $1 per point. And players still collected $606.25 apiece, the full loser's share. But the town was left in quite a state.

"The worst sports hangover in its history," Povich put it.

"The biggest uproar of football game post-mortems ever experienced in the Capital," The Post claimed in its second-day coverage. "On every street corner, throughout the city's cafes, restaurants and cocktail lounges, the subject of the Redskins' 73-0 loss to the Chicago Bears Sunday in Griffith Stadium monopolized conversation."

So like they say, things could always be worse.


By Dan Steinberg  | December 8, 2010; 4:47 PM ET
Categories:  Media, Redskins  
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Comments

Why would you bring this crap up?

Posted by: JulzDC | December 8, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Seriously. Some good news would be nice. Make it up if you have to.

Posted by: johnvandermyde | December 8, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I understand that George Preston Marshall instructed the public address announcer at Griffith Stadium that day not to inform the crowd of the horrific events unfolding on the field of play.

It wasn't until they left the stadium and were greeted by newsboys with special editions that they learned of the grievous beating the Redskins had endured.

True story.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | December 8, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

The Bears cheated, ok? It was the first time the NFL has seen a T-Formation alignment. The referees shouldn't have allowed it in the first place.

Posted by: RedCherokee | December 8, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Love it.

Posted by: ThisGuy | December 9, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

The Redskins will suck as long as $nyder owns the team. HE is the cancer. Fat Albert and all the other overpaid busts over the years are just symptoms.

I'm a 47 year-old (former) diehard Skins fan. I twice camped out at RFK for playoff tickets in December of '81. I went to training camp in Carlisle 4 times. Every season I would find a way to get to a few games. I can still rattle off down-and-distance from key moments in big games in the late 70's, 80's and 90's. I bleed burgundy and gold.

Or at least I used to.

And it's not just because they suck. (Hell, I'm also a DC United fan and they just had a historically bad season. I still went to 8 games.) It's because of all the anti-fan things $nyder & Co. has done since taking over and destroying this once proud franchise.

I decided several years ago that $nyder will never get another penny of my money.

He hasn't and won't.

I watch the games on my DVR and fast forward through the commercials. I won't buy a game ticket, a jersey or any piece of Redskins paraphernalia as long as he owns the team. Seeing as how he is younger than me, that may be for the rest of my life.

So be it.

And if anyone ever asks "how do you alienate a lifelong fan?"

Just say, "Be like Dan $nyder."

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | December 9, 2010 2:13 AM | Report abuse

Rumor had it that the players actually threw the game because Marshall kept talking about how the Skins were going to beat the Bears badly, creating what we know today as "bulletin-board material."

Posted by: stwasm | December 9, 2010 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Thank god the Eagles lost interest and let up. Otherwise history would have been revisited.

Posted by: Scoonie97 | December 9, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the history which some people don't appreciate.

Posted by: nicefellow311 | December 9, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

The story that I've heard is that the Redskins players hated their owner, the unfortunate racist GP Marshall, and they lied down against the Bears that day to get at their owner. Sort of like the Black Sox scandal, where the players hated their cheap-skate owner Charles Comiskey, so some conspired to throw the 1919 Series.

Posted by: randysbailin | December 9, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

"The Redskins were doing everything but scalping one another yesterday as they awaited the fateful battle with the Bears," The Post sort of unbelievably reported on the day of the game.

Yeah, the team name isn't rooted in racism.

Posted by: rdpinva | December 9, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Philly could have put 70 on this team -- can you imagine? It would been fitting if the worst loss in team history happened under Snyder. Instead it was probably second or third.

Posted by: dbunkr | December 9, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I bleed burgundy and gold. Or at least I used to. And it's not just because they suck. (Hell, I'm also a DC United fan and they just had a historically bad season. I still went to 8 games.) And if anyone ever asks "how do you alienate a lifelong fan?" Just say, "Be like Dan $nyder."

PrinceBuster21

I'm with you 100%, man. I could have written this Post. The only difference: I'm 48 and a life-long Caps fan (saw my first game in 75 and have had season ticket more than 25 years, not just the OV era, so I know how to love a suck team, trust me.)

I used to love the Redskins. Not any more.

The team doesn't just suck, $nyder has turned it into a franchise that lacks integrity, is a dysfunctional, predictable mess, and is a mere shadow of its once storied past. It's a shame. But unless and until fans STOP going to games, stop giving this clown their money, and show by way of thousands of empty seats that the emperor has no clothes (no sell outs or waiting lists, that this team has slipped in status in our city), NOTHING will change. The Redskins will continue to win the off-season Super Bowl year after year.

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | December 9, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

OK you egg shaped Baldy-Steinberg, and your point for writing this article is?

as fans we already know how bad this team has been for a decade now. WE KNOW THIS TEAM S-U-C-K-S

no news is good news anymore for the Skins, I think they should be given the No.1 draft pick as compensation and a symbol that they are the worst team in the league, YES! Worse than Buffalo

I don't see the relevance of this article to point out what has been obvious you schmuck!

it's official, the POST S-U-C-K-S

I can't believe they employ numbskulls like you Dan!

Posted by: datruth21 | December 9, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

That wasn't worse. We won the Eastern Division Championship in 1940. We lost in what back then was the equivalent of the Super Bowl.

We won't get to play in the Super Bowl this year, or in the divisional championships, or even in the Wild Card game. I think of that kind of year as being more difficult to endure than being blown out in the Super Bowl.

Some things that this rather cursorily written article failed to mention is that the Redskins had beaten the Bears just two weeks earlier. But in the championship game, George Halas and Sid Luckman came out with something wholly new and innovative, the T-formation, and the Redskins had no clue how to handle it. The introduction of the T-Formation transformed professional football into the game it largely remains today.

That game was rough, but for me it was much rougher when we got blown out by the Raiders in 1983 (well, actually '84 on the calendar). See, I was living in Los Angeles at the time but still a rabid Redskins fan. We had creamed the Rams, scoring over 50 points, earlier that season, and had beaten the Raiders in October. I had been mouthing off in a MOST arrogant fashion big-time over the two weeks leading up to the game, and Monday morning was VERY rough for me at work, I can tell you.

Why on earth didn't the writer include a scan of the FULL play-by-play article? That's just nasty, so frustrating.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | December 9, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Sammy Baugh said a couple of years before his death that Washington "let" the Bears win the game, confirming that at least some of the players threw the game. Marshall was cheap and had made some unflattering remarks ("crybabies") about the Bears after Washington had beaten them 7-3 three weeks before. Why Washington players were upset about remarks made about the opponents is puzzling, but they apparently hated Marshall.

Posted by: upperdeck4 | December 9, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The Redskins will continue to win the off-season Super Bowl year after year.

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | December 9, 2010 10:08 AM

They don't even win the off-season Super Bowl anymore...

Posted by: Moose33 | December 9, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The purpose for this was............

Posted by: RealConservative | December 9, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

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