Why Chief Zee Matters
By Bernard G. Elliker
Courtland Milloy missed the point entirely in characterizing unofficial Washington Redskins mascot “Chief Zee” as a pathetic reminder of, as the headline said, a “sorry tradition” of denigrating Native Americans [Metro, Oct. 21]. On the contrary, Chief Zee remains a comforting sight on the sidelines, because he is one of the few connections we have left to the franchise’s greatest days, when we fans immersed ourselves in a love-in for our beloved Redskins.
As a member of the Washington Redskins Marching Band for more than 35 years, I had the privilege of a front-row seat at wonderful RFK Stadium, and I glory in those days of yore: George Allen, Sonny and Sam, Joe Gibbs, the Hogs and the Smurfs, John Riggins, Mark Moseley’s winning in-the-snow field goal, Art Monk, Charlie Taylor, Bobby Mitchell, the bouncing stands on the 50-yard line.
It was an electric feeling of something beyond description, and Chief Zee was always there, a part of the scene. When the Redskins moved to the sterile FedEx field mausoleum, that spirit never really came with them. It seemed to disappear altogether with the sale to the current ownership.
But the band plays on, and Chief Zee is there, and maybe, just maybe, someday we will recapture what those days were all about. But I fear that will never happen, and as, one after another, the remaining traditions are torn away, I weep for those brilliant October Sundays and what once was the greatest show on earth.
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