The Washington Redskins are one of the most successful franchises in the history of the NFL.
In fact, they have the fifth-most wins in NFL history with 603. At the same time, they have three Super Bowl rings, which ranks seventh all-time.
So the numbers are there. And obviously, in that time, there have been a lot of incredible moments.
Moments that players and fans can look back on and smile. Some were team accomplishments. Others were player, coach, or front office accomplishments. And some even went well beyond football.
What were the Redskins’ greatest moments of all-time though? Let’s take a look back through Washington’s history and try to determine their five greatest moments ever.
5. Trading for Bobby Mitchell
This could be argued either way. It is great that Bobby Mitchell became the first black person to play for the Redskins back in 1962. However, it’s also terrible that it took them that long.
The Redskins were the last team in the NFL to integrate. Just to give you a hint of how long it took them, Mitchell was traded to Washington from the Cleveland Browns, where he had spent four years. So the first black player the Redskins ever had on the team was already in the NFL for four seasons.
That’s definitely not great. But it was a major step in the right direction. And it seems like something that should be remembered forever.
This is especially true right now for a few reasons. First of all, there is all this civil unrest in the country. With many seeking social justice and equality, it’s never a bad thing to reflect on positive moments in history.
Also, the Redskins just announced on June 20 that they will be retiring Mitchell’s number 49. He will be just the second player in Washington history to have his jersey retired, with Sammy Baugh (number 33) being the other.
Mitchell spent seven years in Washington. In that time, he racked up 393 receptions for 6,492 yards and 49 touchdowns. He also had 90 carries for 438 rushing yards and two more touchdowns. Mitchell also added two kick return touchdowns in his time.
The integration of the Redskins took far too long. But Mitchell will forever be remembered as a trailblazer, a legend and an all-time great.
4. Playoff Run After Sean Taylor’s Death
This starts off tragically, obviously. Sean Taylor passed away on November 27, 2007. He was murdered while trying to protect his family from home intruders.
The NFL world was shaken. The sports world was shaken. Of course, the Redskins were in one of the worst places of all. It’s still terrible to hear players talk about the passing of Taylor.
Go watch his “Football Life” and tell me you don’t cry when Santana Moss is talking.
At the time of Sean Taylor’s death, the team was 5-6. Their first game back was against the Buffalo Bills. On the first defensive play of the game for Washington, they had just 10 men on the field, leaving Taylor’s safety spot open.
In the end, they lost that game 17-16. At 5-7, their playoff hopes were almost gone.
Head coach Joe Gibbs (who you will hear a lot about later) and the team rallied though.
Things could’ve gotten even worse, the next game saw starting QB Jason Campbell go down with an injury. Journeyman backup Todd Collins entered and turned things around though.
Washington won the last four regular season games, going 9-7. Week 17 saw them blowout the Dallas Cowboys to ensure a playoff spot.
Although they lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round, it was a magical run. They did it for Taylor. The entire fanbase, and it’s safe to assume a lot of NFL fans in general, were behind them.
3. Super Bowl XVII
Super Bowl XVII was the first of three rings the Redskins have at the moment. So you would assume that would top the list, right?
Well, there are a few reasons it actually comes in at number three.
Yes, winning the first time is great, but the other two have a little more significance.
As for this one though, it was still great.
The Redskins went 8-1 on the year (a shortened season and another reason this comes in at three). They ran through the playoffs and ended up beating the Miami Dolphins 27-17.
Running back John Riggins was the MVP (running for 166 yards and a touchdown) and it was the first of head coach Gibbs’ three rings. It was the beginning of the greatest era in Washington football history.
2. Super Bowl XXVI
Super Bowl XXVI was the last of the three Redskins Super Bowls so far. It was the end of the Gibbs era. He coached after this, but it was the last of his rings with the team.
The Redskins went an astounding 14-2 on the year and defeated the Buffalo Bills 37-24 in the Super Bowl. Yes, this was during that miserable stretch for Buffalo.
Quarterback Mark Rypien won the Super Bowl MVP, throwing for 292 yards and two touchdown passes. Meanwhile, Gary Clark and Art Monk once again proved that they were one of the greatest wide receiver duos of all-time.
Clark racked up 114 receiving yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. Monk had almost identical numbers, with 113 yards on seven receptions.
The Redskins have not been the most successful team since then. But this was that one last hurray. Maybe they can get back there sooner, rather than later. For now though, this is the last “great” moment most fans (that were alive back then) have of the team.
1. Super Bowl XXII
This was the middle of the three Super Bowls. Super Bowl XXII was the second one the Redskins ever won.
So why is it the greatest moment in Redskins history, you ask? I mean, the first was the first, and the third was the last. So how could you rationalize putting the middle one as the greatest moment?
Easy, Doug Williams.
Remember number five? How Bobby Mitchell was the first black person to ever play for Washington? And it’s a great moment, but also embarrassing because the Redskins were the last team to integrate.
Well, they also had Williams. In 1988, the Redskins won their second Super Bowl. And Williams was the quarterback. That’s significant because he was the first black quarterback to ever start in a Super Bowl.
Obviously, winning the thing was great. Washington destroyed the Denver Broncos 42-10. It was the second of three rings for Gibbs and the team put up massive numbers.
Ricky Sanders had nine receptions for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Timmy Smith had 204 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Then there was Williams. He had 340 passing yards and four touchdowns, winning the MVP.
The Redskins have that embarrassing history of being the last team in the NFL to integrate. They will also always be remembered as the first team with a black quarterback in the Super Bowl though.
Therefore, it’s pretty easy to put this one right at the top.