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Remembering The 30th Anniversary Season

Posted Jul 6, 2012

With the Redskins' 80th Anniversary campaign underway, it's an opportunity to look back at other milestone years. Next is 1962, the team's 30th season.

With the Redskins' 80th Anniversary campaign entering the final stretch, it's an opportunity to reflect on the team throughout history.  Today, a look at the team's 30th Anniversary season.

The year was 1962, and Redskins head coach Bill McPeak were in search of an offensive playmaker for quarterback Norm Snead.  His desires were answered in the form of Bobby Mitchell, a hard-nosed running back from the Cleveland Browns.

Prior to Mitchell's arrival in Washington, the Redskins had never suited up an African American player. After his arrival, McPeak recognized Mitchell's incredible talent, and moved him to the flanker position, where he become a Hall of Fame receiver.

Mitchell's breakout 1962 season shattered the color barrier in Washington and paved the way for generations of color-blind football in the Nation's Capital.  Even though the team did not win right away, the groundwork was laid for future Redskins' success.

Here is a short list of highlights from the 1962 season, including the birth of the First Ladies of Football:

Sept. 30, 1962: "Redskinettes" debut on sidelines at D.C. Stadium:

Following the lead of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1961, the Washington Redskins became the second team in the NFL to have official cheerleader squad.

Fifty years later, the Redskins remain the longest-tenured cheerleading squad in the NFL, and have entertained millions of fans around the world.

In 1983 the cheerleaders produced their first calendar, which they have continued since. In 1984, they were the fourth NFL squad to perform in a United Service Organizations (USO) tour entertaining the armed forces in Turkey, Italy, Sicily, Spain and the 6th Fleet off the coast of France.

The Washington Redskins Cheerleaders were also the first cheerleaders in the NFL to form an alumni association.  Now over 1,000 members-strong, they are the largest cheerleading alumni association in the league.

Sept. 16, 1962: Mitchell scores three times against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Redskins opened the 1962 season hosting the Dallas Cowboys at home.  The Cowboys were in only their third season at the time, but the rivalry was already being established.

The Cowboys were led on offense by quarterback Eddie LeBaron and kicker Sam Baker, both former Redskins players.  But the story of the day was the newest member of the Redskins, as Mitchell grabbed a pair of touchdowns on offense and another on special teams.

The first was on the Redskins first drive of the game, when Mitchell got open in the red zone for a six yard touchdown catch from Snead.  This tied the game at seven, and gave the Redskins their first score of the season.

Late in the third quarter, the Cowboys had built a two-touchdown lead, and the Redskins needed to respond.  Mitchell fielded the kickoff at the Redskins 8-yard line, and followed his blockers into the open field.  Streaking down the sidelines, he took the kickoff all the way back for a touchdown.

After the Cowboys answered with a touchdown of their own, the Redskins once again turned to No. 49 on offense, as Mitchell made a spectacular 81-yard catch and run.

Mitchell finished his first Redskins game with six catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns on offense.  Over the next 13 games, Mitchell would lead the NFL with 72 catches for 1,384 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Nov. 11, 1962: Redskins reach elusive to fifth win.

While it may not seem like a major accomplishment in 2012, the 1962 Redskins had long inhabited the cellar of the Eastern division.

By beating the Cleveland Browns in Week 9 of the 1962 season, the Redskins ensured their first five-win season since 1957, and equalled their win total from the previous three seasons, combined.

At the time, the Redskins were in serious contention to make the playoffs, having been in first place for much of the season. 

That dream was lost when the team dropped its final five games of the season.  But the groundwork had been laid for future success, and in 1969, the Redskins finally made it back to the postseason.

Celebrate the 80th Anniversary by voting '10 for 80,' to determine the 80 Greatest Redskins of All Time.  Vote now at Redskins80th.com.

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