The statue of former Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall, who was the owner of the Washington Redskins from their inception in 1932 until his death in 1969, was removed from outside of RFK Stadium Friday.
Marshall refused attempts to integrate his roster in the 1960s, claiming he was proud that the Redskins were the last segregated team.
"His excuse for being the only holdout was the Redskins are the South's team and the South is segregated," Thomas G. Smith wrote in his 2011 book "Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins." "So is the nation's capital, and this is my primary audience."
Events DC, which is in charge of RFK Stadium, released a statement upon the removal of the statue.
"This symbol of a person who didn't believe all men and women were created equal and who actually worked against integration is counter to all that we as people, a city, and nation represent," Max Brown, the chairman of the Events DC board of directors, and Greg O'Dell, the president and CEO, said in the joint statement, per ESPN's John Keim. "We believe that injustice and inequality of all forms is reprehensible and we are firmly committed to confronting unequal treatment and working together toward healing our city and country."
Marshall, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, became part owner of the Boston Braves franchise in 1932 and renamed the team the Redskins in 1933. He moved the team to Washington in 1937, a year after moving the league championship game against Green Bay to the Polo Grounds in New York from Boston, signaling he was about to relocate the franchise.
Moving to Washington in 1937 paid immediate dividends for the Redskins, as they won the NFL title in their first season in their new city. The Redskins also won the NFL title in 1942 and five division titles during their first nine seasons in Washington, D.C.
Even with Washington's success in the 1940s, Marshall did not integrate his team after the Los Angeles Rams became the first team to integrate in 1946. As the civil rights movement grew, pressure mounted for Marshall to integrate, but he refused to do so.
When the Redskins planned to move into the new D.C. Stadium, which was built on federal land, Marshall was forced to break the color line after John F. Kennedy's interior secretary, Stewart Udall, told him if he didn't integrate in 1962, he would be unable to use the stadium. Marshall drafted Ernie Davis with the No. 1 overall pick, but traded him to the Cleveland Browns. He did sign five other African-American players later that year, one of which was future Hall of Famer and Redskins executive Bobby Mitchell.
Marshall was a major proponent of the forward pass rule and the splitting into two divisions, creating a league championship game in 1933. He also organized the Redskins' popular marching band and founded a radio network that carried Redskins games throughout the South, opening up a new fanbase for the franchise.