Zema “Chief Zee” Williams passed away, in his sleep, on July 18. He was 75 years old. Chief Zee was an avid fan of the Washington Redskins. He was known as the unofficial mascot of the team. Often dressed in a head-dress and jacket, Chief Zee began attending Redskins games in 1978. In this article I will pay homage to the long time fan and member of the Redskins family.
The first game that Chief Zee attended, in costume, was at RFK stadium on September 10th, 1978. The Redskins played host to the Philadelphia Eagles. This was just the beginning of what was to come. The Redskins would win the game 35-30. Chief Zee would be staple at games from then on.
Chief would often travel to away games. He would be seen at Meadowlands Stadium against the New York Giants. He would make the short trip over to Philadelphia, when the Eagles played in Veterans Stadium, and many times he was seen in Texas Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys. As hostile as those environments can be, Chief Zee would often leave with just a feeling. The feeling of high that his Redskins had just won or the feeling of defeat because they had just lost.
However, one time in 1983 while Zee was attending a game at Veterans stadium in Philadelphia he was attacked. Zee had been taunting the Eagles fans after a 10-point Redskins win, which he had often done in good fun. But not on this day. Eagles fans would have no part and attacked Zee. He would suffer a broken leg, torn costume and be hospitalized. This would not keep the valued fan down, nor keep him from attending future games in Philadelphia.
Chief Zee was honored for his fandom in 2000. Visa and the Pro Football Hall of Fame selected him as the biggest fan of the Washington Redskins. He was placed in an exhibit in Canton.
As the years went on and Chief Zee began to grow old, his attendance at games began to suffer. He would often miss games because it become difficult for him to walk. So Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, bought Chief Zee a scooter so he could once again attend the games he so loved.
Chief Zee was adored by the other fans that would attend games. He was loved so much that when it became difficult for him to pay his rent the fans set him up a GoFundMe account to raise him the money. Enough money was raised to pay his past due and get him ahead so that this would not happen to the man again.
Chief Zee was loved by everyone in the community and the NFL. Even if you were not a fan of the Washington Redskins you knew who Chief Zee was. Such in a way that people knew The Barrel Man from Denver or Fireman Ed from the Jets.
RIP Chief Zee! May you continue to watch over this team as we make our journey back to the top. You will be missed my friend. ALWAYS HTTR!!!!
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.