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Chief Zee

Chief Zee with a fan at FedEx Field on January 10, 2016.

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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. 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.


History

Chief Zee first showed up in costume on September 5, 1978. In 1983, Chief Zee attended a game against the Eagles at Veterans Stadium. After taunting the fans, he was attacked by Eagles fans angry at their team's 10-point loss to the Redskins - the fans broke his leg, tore off his original costume, and left him hospitalized. 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. 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.

Honors

  • 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

Some consider Williams' portrayal of American Indians to be offensive. 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.

Controversy

Some consider Williams' portrayal of American Indians to be offensive. 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.

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