George Preston Marshall (1896–1969) was the owner and president of the Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL) from 1932 until his death in 1969.
However, he is best known- albeit infamously- for his intractable opposition to having African-Americans on his roster. According to professor Charles Ross, "For 24 years Marshall was identified as the leading racist in the NFL". Though the league had previously had a sprinkling of black players, blacks were excluded from all NFL teams just one year after Marshall entered the league.
While the rest of the league began signing individual blacks in 1946 and actually drafting blacks in 1949, Marshall held out until 1962 before signing a black player.(His intractability was mocked in Washington Post game stories by legendary writer Shirley Povich, who sarcastically used terms from the civil rights movement and related court cases to describe games: for instance, he once wrote that Jim Brown "integrated" the end zone, making the score "separate but unequal".) Moreover, the signing only came when Interior Secretary Stewart Udall issued an ultimatum – unless Marshall signed a black player, the government would revoke the Redskins' 30-year lease on the year-old D.C. Stadium (now Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium), which had been paid for by government money and was owned by the Washington city government (which, then and now, is formally an arm of the federal government). Marshall's chief response was to make Ernie Davis, Syracuse's all-American running back, his number-one draft choice for 1962. Davis, however, demanded a trade, saying, "I won't play for that S.O.B." He got his wish, as the team sent him to Cleveland for All-Pro Bobby Mitchell. Mitchell was the first African American football player to play a game for the Redskins, and he played with the team for several years, initially at running back, but he made his biggest impact at wide receiver.