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Pearl Harbor, the Redskins, & The Most Forgotten Football Game

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December 7, 1941 was the season finale for the Redskins & Eagles

The Monday night game between the Redskins and Cowboys has been designated a Salute To Service game. Twelve WW2 veterans have taken an honor flight to spend the weekend in Washington D.C. prior to being honored at the game. Honor flights bring military veterans from all across the country to visit memorials in Washington D.C. erected in their honor. Veterans from as far away as Texas will be visiting the WW2 memorial and the Arlington National Cemetery. The veterans are being hosted by USAA, the Official Military Appreciation Sponsor of the NFL.

Seventy four years ago, on December 7th, the Redskins played the Eagles in their season finale. The Redskins had a 5-5 record. A Redskin win and Brooklyn Dodger loss would tie the two teams for first place in the East. The roster for the Redskins had fallen to 30 men. Dick Todd and Wilbur Moore "left for home" and Ed Justice was out after injuring his leg. Attendance for this game (27,102) was just enough to break 1940's season attendance numbers (193,551 for the '41 season).

The game has been called "most forgotten football game". As Sammy Baugh threw three touchdown passes in a come from behind, 20-14 victory over the Eagles, news of the attack on Pearl Harbor began to trickle in to reporters covering the game. Although the public address announcer summoned military officers and government officials to leave the game and report to their bases and offices, neither the fans nor the players were given any official notice about what had happened. Redskins officials had received word of the attack but refused to make an announcement to the crowd for fear of the hysteria it might cause.

Rumors began to circulate through the crowd as more and more notable people were paged to return to work. Announcements such as "Admiral W.H.P. Bland is asked to report to his office at once!"  and "The Resident Commissioner of the Philippines, Mr. Joaquim Elizalde, is urged to report to his office immediately!" were heard throughout the game. Most people, however, were more interested in the Redskin comeback. The majority of the media attending the game were summoned away to cover stories at the Japanese Embassy and other locations. In fact, by halftime, only one photographer was still covering the game. After the win, fans learned about the attack from stadium employees and cab drivers.

Even in the face of impending war, the Redskins made news as the Washington Post reported on Sammy Baugh's failure to be named to the All-Pro team:

Followers of pro football today are wondering what a fellow has to do to get named on an all-star selection. The Associated Press's All-Pro team, announced this morning, completely ignores Sammy Baugh, who has been the Redskins' only threat this season. He had a brilliant season and almost all of his team's points resulted from his dazzling aerial work. He only made honorable mention.

Seventy four years later, USAA and the Washington Redskins will remember that attack and its lasting impact on our nation by hosting WWII veterans that answered the call to service that first began as football games were in progress. Hogs Haven, USAA, and the Washington Redskins salute the veterans and the memories of the soldiers who lost their lives on December 7, 1941.