Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hail to the Chief

Chief Zee is one of the most recognizable football fans in the NFL, often getting face time on national broadcasts of Redskins games. On July 18, 2006, The Washington Times reported that health issues may prevent Zema "Chief Zee" Williams from attending games this season. Williams was treated for a stomach aneurysm and a blood clot in his leg last May and is now confined to a wheelchair.

Williams supposedly created his Chief character in 1978 when he attended a Redskins-Cowboys game in full regalia. He was one of thirty-one winners of the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fans contest in 2000. While attending a 1983 Redskins game in Philadelphia, he was attacked by Eagles fans who stripped him of his costume and broke his leg. During the Gibbs I era, when Redskins-Cowboys games were a regular feature of Monday Night Football, Chief Zee was often shown in a mock battle with Crazy Ray, his counterpart mascot of the Dallas Cowboys. The winner of these set-ups was usually the home team mascot.

Chief Zee is not officially associated with The Washington Redskins football organization. Williams, who lives on a fixed income, bears all of the cost of outfitting the Chief character and traveling to away games.

Chief Zee is a favorite whipping boy to those who oppose the use of Native American names and symbols as sports mascots. But, to legions of fans, he is as much a part of the Redskins tradition as the Hogettes and "Hail to the Redskins."


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