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Hall of Fame Redskins: Cliff Battles

Throughout the 2009 regular season, the Redskins are putting a spotlight on a Hall of Famer each week. This week: Cliff Battles.

Talk about a remarkable start to an NFL career.

Cliff Battles won the National Football League rushing title as a rookie in 1932 with the Boston Braves.

The following season the Braves were renamed the Redskins and Battles became the first player to ever rush for 200 yards in one game. Battles hit that milestone on Oct. 8, 1933, when he rushed 16 times for 215 yards and a touchdown against the New York Giants.

It was clear that the potential for Battles was immense. All he needed was a quality quarterback.

In 1937, then-Redskins owner George Preston Marshall relocated his team from Boston to Washington and Battles followed the franchise to the nation's capital.

The Redskins and Battles welcomed a promising rookie quarterback in Sammy Baugh prior to their first season in Washington.

That tandem of Battles and Baugh was productive in their first and only season together.

On the last game of regular season, Battles scored three rushing touchdowns to lead the Redskins past the New York Giants to win the Eastern Division title.

A week later, Washington matched up against Chicago for the NFL Championship game.

Battles scored the first touchdown and Baugh tallied three more scores to lift the Redskins over the Bears 28-21, giving the franchise their first league title.

That season, Battles was once again the NFL's leading rusher and won all-league honors for the fifth time in six years. He totaled 3,511 yards after six seasons, huge numbers for that era, and Redskins fans looked to see the same production for seasons to come.

The success for the tandem of Baugh and Battles was cut short because of a contract dispute.

Marshall, the Redskins owner, paid Battles $3,000 a year starting in his rookie season, but he refused to consider a raise for the standout running back despite fact that he was a standout player.

The following season, Battles took a job as an assistant coach at Columbia University. The Redskins won one more NFL title during Baugh's impressive career, but fans were always left to wonder what might have been if Battles had gotten his raise after the 1937 season.


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