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Relocated NFL Teams: The Boston Redskins

The Boston Redskins were an NFL team that was active between 1932 and 1936, albeit going by the name Boston Braves during their first season. They are the franchise that later became the Washington Redskins of today after relocation in 1936. The team began in 1932 as an NFL expansion team to fill the league spot that had been vacated by the Newark Tornadoes. George Preston Marshall, who had been awarded custodial rights for the new franchise acquired the Tornadoes roster from the NFL and renamed the team Boston Braves after the city’s baseball team by the same name. The team also shared Braves Field with the MLB outfit before they relocated to Fenway Park in 1933, sharing the stadium with the Boston Red Sox. In 1933, they adopted the name Boston Redskins, a highly controversial name at the time. The name was picked in honor of several members of the team’s roster who had Native American roots. However this perspective has been challenged in various reports with the most common claiming that the name was taken to align with that of the Boston Red Sox who had agreed to support the team when the Braves withdrew theirs.

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The Redskins’ first game was a loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 2, 1930. This was followed by a 14-6 win over the New York Giants on October 7, 1932. They eventually finished the 1932 season with a 4-4-2 record. They improved slightly the following season under Coach Lone Star Dietz, finishing with a 5-5-2 record before climbing to second the in 1934 with a 6-6 record. A 2-8-1 record in 1935 ensued as they scored just 65 points the whole season. The 1936 season would be their most productive season during their time in Boston. They started by drafting Wayne Miller, an offensive player who was hailed by team owner George Marshall as the player to bring success to the team. Their mediocre play from the 1935 season seemed to spill over into the 1936 season as they started poorly before improving tremendously in latter games to clinch the Eastern Division title with a 7-5 record. Boston’s defense was crucial in the three game winning streak to finish the season as they let in just 6 points in those three games. At the other end, the attack was in devastating condition as they scored 74 points including two 30 point games against the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Pittsburg Pirates respectively. They were however vanquished 21-6 by the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game played at the Polo Grounds in New York on December 13, 1936. That game would prove to be their last while based in Boston.

Why were the Boston Redskins Relocated?

The Redskins’ reception in Boston was very cold and the team hardly generated any kind of prolonged excitement among fans. The lack of support from local fans infuriated Marshall greatly. Marshall also had a very poor relationship with the Boston press owing to what he called a deliberate blackout of his team. In one of such incidents, local dailies featured a local girls’ high school hockey game on the back page, relinquishing the Redskins’ game the same day to inner pages. The poor support for the team was laid bare during the last home game of the 1936 regular season. With Boston in serious contention for the NFL Eastern Division title, this was as big as regular season games came so it was expected that there would be a large fan turnout at Fenway Park. However, Marshall was left disappointed when less than 5000 fans turned out for the game. The Redskins did win the game to clinch the Eastern title but the annoyed Marshall requested the league to have the championship game played at the Polo Grounds in New York, effectively relinquishing home advantage because he thought so little of it. With the team sinking further into financial difficulties, it was clear to Marshall that the future of the team was away from Boston. When the season came to an end, he relocated the club to Washington and renamed it the Washington Redskins. The city of Boston briefly hosted another NFL team between 1944 and 1948, the short-lived Boston Yanks. In 1960, the Boston Patriots were formed but they would depart for Foxborough in 1971 to become the New England Patriots of today.

Boston Redskins Notable Players

Cliff Battles HB 1932-1936

Turk Edwards T 1932-1936

Wayne Miller DE 1936

Jim Musick FB 1933, 1934-1936

Jim Barber T 1934-1936

Ernie Pinkert WB 1933-1936

Larry Johnson T 1933-1935

Ted Wright HB 1933-1934

Flavio Tosi LE 1934-1936

Paul Collins RE 1933-1935

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