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Politics and football: What could be worse than Redskins?

There was a lot to be said the past year about changing the name and mascot of the Washington Redskins. That team has been a franchise since 1932. In 1932, my father was six years old. His father owned a pool room and beer joint in Mt. Gilead, Ohio. Grandpa Oscar Taylor George said that Jim Thorpe had a tab at the Pabst Blue Ribbon Grill, his bar, and that Thorpe shot craps at the pool room. Shooting craps was corroborated by another story shared by lawyer, John A Boyd about his grandfather Orba Mosher. That would have happened about 1923 when Jim Thorpe was managing a football team in La Rue, Ohio, not far from Mt.Gilead.

Jim Thorpe, "World's best athlete"
Jim Thorpe at a meet before the Stockholm Olympic Games in 1912 (via Getty Images/US National Library

“(Grandpa Mosher) He did tell me though that he had ‘shot craps with Jim Thorpe.’ He pronounced his name "Thrope", which brings to mind another characteristic of Grandpa, his unique pronunciation of some words. He said atom boom for bomb, penjun for penguin, and others.

His story about shooting craps with Jim Thorpe would usually lead into the story about going to see his first football game, because he knew Thorpe when he was playing pro football. A friend took him to a professional football game, and after the game was over, he asked Grandpa what he thought. He said he reckoned it was OK except that all they did was fight.”

The timeline is important to establish credibility around the stories that were passed on to me from my dad, grandad and family friends. Jim Thorpe of Native American and European descent played football until he was 41 years old which with his last year being 1928. He was more than a football player of course. He was described as the world’s best athlete, and won Olympic medals, and played professional baseball, basketball, and coached professional football too.

While investigating more about Jim Thorpe and his being in Ohio, I discovered much about his coaching an all-American Indian NFL team called the Oorang Indians. Imagine the day when an entire team in the NFL was staffed with Native Americans and led by a world-class coach and athlete also a Native American. What was their team logo? It was an Airedale Terrier. Why?

A man named Walter Lingo from La Rue, Ohio, a farm town outside of Marion, Ohio raised dogs. He used the football team to promote his dog kennels. He hired Jim Thorpe to be the player coach and had Thorpe recruit all “Indian” players. That was 1922-23 and included 20 games.

Well Grandpa was 22 in 1923 and he didn’t own the poolroom and beer joint until 1930. That means Jim Thorpe must have been in the neighborhood during the Depression. That was when he was drinking heavily. One story told by my dad is that Thorpe once kicked a football over one goal post and it landed over the other at the end of the field. The goal post to goal post kick sounds sensational, but a bunch of oldtimers repeated the story as I heard it many times. My dad claims that this happened in 1937 when grandpa was Morrow County sheriff. Dad would have been an 8 year old witness to the fete.

What actually happened is that “during halftimes he sometimes entertained crowds by drop-kicking a football 50 yards over one goal post, then turning around and drop-kicking another 50 yards over the opposite goal post.” (Credit the Washington Post)

That’s plausible. Now, the person who truly witnessed Thorpe playing near Mt. Gilead was my Great Grandpa, James A. George, who told the story to his son and grandson.

Anyway, check out the names of some of the Oorang Indians team members:

Arrowhead, from the Chippewas tribe. Laughing Gas (Reginald Edward Attache) of the Mission Indian tribe, Temecula, California. Chim Lingrel (Paul Chalmer Lingrel) from Ridgeway, Ohio (not far from Indian Lake).

In conclusion, to what name should the Redskins be name changed? I recommend, the Washington Airedales. That preserves the historical connection and is only offensive to the kennel club.

"Jim Thorpe

No. 31, 2, 1


Personal information

Date of birth: May 28, 1888

Place of birth: Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma

Date of death: March 28, 1953 (aged 64)

Place of death: Lomita, California

Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)

Weight: 202 lb (92 kg)

Career information

College: Carlisle

Debuted in 1920 for the Canton Bulldogs

Last played in 1928 for the Chicago Cardinals

Coaching debut in 1921 for the Cleveland Indians

Last coached in 1923 for the Oorang Indians

Career history

As player:

Canton Bulldogs (1915–1917)
Canton Bulldogs (1919–1920)
Cleveland Indians (1921)
Oorang Indians (1922–1923)
Rock Island Independents (1924)
New York Giants (1925)
Rock Island Independents (1925)
Tampa Cardinals (1926)
Canton Bulldogs (1926)
Chicago Cardinals (1928)

As coach:

Indiana (1915)
Canton Bulldogs (1915–1920)
Cleveland Indians (1921)
Oorang Indians (1922–1923)
Tampa Cardinals (1926)

Career highlights and awards

2× Consensus All-American (1911, 1912)
GB Press-Gazette First-Team All-Pro (1923)
NFL 1920s All-Decade Team
NFL 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
College Football Hall of Fame inductee (1951)
Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee (1963)

Career NFL statistics

Stats at

Head coaching record

Career record

Pro Football Hall of Fame

College Football Hall of Fame”

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