When the Redskins lost by 73
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."
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.
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