George Preston Marshall Statue Removed From Outside RFK Stadium


A marble monument for George Preston Marshall, the founder of the Washington football team who was against integrating the team, was removed from outside RFK Stadium on Friday morning, Events DC announced in a statement Friday.

Marshall will also be removed from Washington's Ring of Fame at FedEx Field, per ESPN's John Keim

Images taken by Ward 6 ANC Commissioner Denise Krepp show that the statue was defaced overnight with the phrase "Change the name" spray-painted on it. 

"This morning, Events DC removed the George Preston Marshall memorial statue that stood out front of RFK Stadium," Max Brown, chairman of Events DC Board of Directors and Greg O’Dell, president and chief executive officer, Events DC said in a joint statement. "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. 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.

"Removing this statue is a small and an overdue step on the road to lasting equality and justice. We recognize that we can do better and act now. We’ve heard from many of our stakeholders in the community, and we thank you. Allowing the memorial to remain on the RFK Campus goes against Events DC’s values of inclusion and equality and is a disturbing symbol to many in the city we serve."

Marshall was awarded the NFL franchise in 1932, that initially was known as the Boston Braves. Soon after, he changed the club's nickname to what it is now, and by 1937, he moved the team to Washington D.C., where its name has remained the same.

By 1961, Washington was the only of 14 NFL teams that hadn't integrated. According to the Washington Post, U.S. Interior Secretary Stewart Udall confronted Marshall about the topic that March, explaining that then-DC Stadium was on national park land and that the team might not keep its lease if Marshall didn't sign a Black player. Marshall said he wanted to discuss the issue with President John F. Kennedy. 

Per the Post, Marshall marketed his all-white team as "the team of the South." The team's popular song that he commissioned, "Hail to the Redskins," included the line "Fight for Old Dixie" (later changed to "Fight for Old D.C.").

 RFK Stadium opened in 1961. Washington's football team played there until 1996. The Nationals played there from 2005-07 and D.C. United played there from 1996 to 2017.

Marshall was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. He died at age 72 in 1969.

Other statues of former sports team owners have been removed in recent weeks, as on June 10 a statue of Panthers founding owner Jerry Richardson was removed from Charlotte's Bank of American Stadium. 

On Friday morning, a bronze memorial depicting former team owner Calvin Griffith was removed outside of Target Field.