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Mike Wise: Playing 'Injun' isn't an act for 72-year-old football fan

Filed Under: Opinion | Sports
More on: dc, football, mascots, racism, redskins, stereotypes

Mike Wise of The Washington Post talks to Chief Zee -- the 72-year-old man who is proud to play "Injun" for the Washington football team:
He is physically ailing. The commercial world and the team appear to be backing away as the recent fervor over the name controversy continues. His one-man, self-anointed tribe is nearing extinction.

But Oct. 2 will mark three and a half decades since a District car salesman first purchased feathers and spear from a costume shop and played dress-up during a Monday night game against Dallas at RFK Stadium in 1978. Chief Zee will turn 35 years old.

Zema Williams is 72, a mere man next to the alter ego he created, who has missed just four home games (all because of funerals) since 1978, who still zips around FedEx Field in the motorized scooter that owner Daniel Snyder purchased for his team’s inarguable No. 1 fan.

“My job is to entertain the people,” Williams says. “A lot of them tell me, they say, ‘You know, my wife won’t even cook me dinner till she see you on TV and says, ‘There’s my Injun.’ The older people been watching me so long, they don’t even say ‘Indian.’ They say, ‘Injun. There’s my Injun.’ And it’s on.”

Get the Story:
Mike Wise: Chief Zee, the Redskins and the setting sun (The Washington Post 9/4)

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