The Washington Redskins unofficial mascot, Chief Zee passed away in his sleep on Monday at 75 years old. He was beloved by fans for decades and a staple of the Redskins tradition.
I remember seeing Chief Zee on TV. I thought he was a real Native American Indian. I learned that he was simply a fan in a cool costume who loved the Washington Redskins. He became Chief Zee out of respect and a way to honor the Redskins name I’ll never forget the spirit of Chief Zee at FedEx. In 2010, the Redskins opened the season at home against the Cowboys. The tension was high before the game started. I remember being nervous. But then the camera zoomed in on Chief Zee. He was on the big screen chanting We Want Dallas, We Want DALLAS, WE WANT DALLAS! The energy exploded and gave me goose-bumps. That moment is something I have never forgotten. Chief Zee was special. He knew how to get a crowd of 83,000 screaming and believing in the Washington Redskins. The Redskins beat the Cowboys 13-7.
While Chief Zee was dressed in faux Native American attire, he was anything but a faux fan. He was embraced and loved by fans and the team. November 7, 1985 was declared “Chief Zee Day” in Washington, D.C. Visa and the Pro Football Hall of Fame selected Chief Zee as the biggest fan of the Washington Redskins in 2000. As Chief Zee aged, he had difficulty walking. Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, purchased him a motorized scooter so he could continue to bring his spirit to Redskins games. When Chief Zee was faced with eviction from his home, fans started a GoFundMe campaign to help keep him in his home.
Chief Zee loved every bit of the attention, but he loved the Washington Redskins more. He never gave up on his team and felt his job was to make sure the fans didn’t give up on the team. His name should be retired in the Redskins Ring of Honor.
Chief Zee (real name Zema Williams) is now in Hog Heaven, but his spirit will always be with the Redskins.