Chief Zee

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Chief Zee with fans at FedEx Field on December 4, 2011

Chief Zee, real name Zema Williams, is a well-known fan and unofficial mascot of the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. Dressed in a faux American Indian headdress, rimmed glasses, and a red jacket, Chief Zee has been attending Redskins games since 1978.[1] He, and other local sports personalities, are featured in a number of television commercials for Eastern Motors, a Washington, D.C. and Baltimore area car dealership.[2][3][4]

History[edit]

Chief Zee first showed up in costume on September 5, 1978.[5] In 1983, Chief Zee attended a game against the Eagles at Veterans Stadium. While at the game, he was attacked by Eagles fans angry at [6] their team's 10-point loss to the Redskins - the fans broke his leg, tore off his original costume, and left him hospitalized.[7] The altercation hasn't kept Chief Zee from attending Redskins games in Philadelphia.

On August 9, 2008, the Chief set down his signature prop, a toy tomahawk, while he was signing autographs at the Redskins' preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. When he turned to retrieve it, it was gone. The 12-inch tomahawk has a slender wooden handle with a rubber blade, and appears in many photos of Williams since he started attending Redskins games over 30 years ago.[8] By August 28, 2008, Chief Zee's tomahawk has been returned to him with the help of Redskins tight end Chris Cooley who got a call from someone that said they had it. He swapped a signed jersey for the tomahawk.[9]

Honors[edit]

  • November 7, 1985 was declared "Chief Zee Day" in Washington, DC.
  • In 2000, Visa and the Pro Football Hall of Fame selected the biggest fan of each of the then-31 teams and placed them in an exhibit in Canton. He was the fan chosen for the Washington Redskins.

Controversy[edit]

Some consider Williams' stereotypical portrayal of American Indians to be offensive.[10][11][12][13] His use of a stylized headdress is often referenced as the reason for offense, as the headdress is a sacred, central cultural item for many tribes.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]