In the early part of the 20th century, Ed Thorp was a referee and friend to prominent early NFL owners. After he died in 1934, the league created a trophy to honor him. Unlike the modern Lombardi trophies, this trophy did not become possession of the winning team, but instead spent a year with the winning team before being passed on to the next year’s champion, much like the NHL’s Stanley Cup.
The Redskins were the winners of this trophy in 1937 and 1942, but that trophy is NOT in Redskins Park.
(In fact, no one knows where that trophy is. The prevailing theory is that the Minnesota Vikings – who were the last to win the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy, in 1969 – somehow lost it when the league switched over to the Lombardi Trophy the following year. Which is an impressive feat; if this were baseball, there would have been books and stories and TV specials about the Curse of Ed Thorp, especially when the Vikings lost three out of four Super Bowls in the mid-1970s. But it’s the NFL, so apparently everyone just sort of shrugs and looks embarrassed by the whole thing.)
In addition to their year with the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy, though, teams were awarded a smaller replica of the trophy, which they were allowed to keep. And the 1937 replica IS in Redskins Park, on display in the sidewall in the lobby.
Not as prominent as the glittering Lombardis, but it’s here. (Everyone seems sure that the 1942 trophy is around as well, although no one seems certain where.)
The Lombardi Trophies were moved (with gloves, naturally) to public display on Fan Appreciation Day, but the Ed Thorp Trophy was not. Similarly, I posted about the Lombardi Trophies the other day, but overlooked this one. Now that oversight has been corrected, and I can walk past that display case without being completely wracked with guilt.