‘Kimmy Schmidt’ Reality Check: Did First Redskins Coach Really Fake Being an American Indian?

Yes, William “Lone Star” Dietz was the NFL team’s first coach — and his background has been questioned

Last Updated: April 18, 2016 @ 5:04 PM

(Spoiler alert: Please do not read until you have finished watching Season 2 of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)

No sooner does Jane Krakowski‘s down-on-her-luck socialite find herself developing romantic feelings for a wealthy attorney in the second season of Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” then she learns an unfortunate truth about him.

Krakowski’s Jacqueline White, an American Indian who has long been passing for white, discovers that the family of her beau, Russ (David Cross), owns the Washington Redskins — or, as the TV sports commentator says on the show, “the team that is from Washington.”

“We Snyders love our football,” Russ says — an apparent nod to the NFL team’s real-world owner, Daniel Snyder.

At first, Jacqueline tries to gently raise the issue of the team’s name. “It’s just some people find it offensive,” she says.

“Some of my best statues are of Indians,” counters Russ’ arrogant brother, Duke (Josh Charles). “And the Redskins’ very first coach was Lone Star Dietz, a man who pretended to be Indian so he could get out of World War I.”

It turns out that William “Lone Star” Dietz really was the first coach of what was then called the Boston Redskins, and his ethnic background is the subject of some controversy.

According to historian Linda M. Waggoner, Dietz was a German American from Wisconsin who passed himself off as one-quarter Sioux when he enrolled in Pennsylvania’s Carlisle Indian Industrial School in the early 20th century. He played football at Carlisle for coach Pop Warner with fellow student Jim Thorpe, Olympic gold medalist and football legend.

In 1919, Dietz was tried in federal court for falsely indentifying himself as Indian to avoid the draft in World War I. The trial ended in a hung jury, but Dietz later pleaded no contest to the same charges and served a 30-day jail sentence.

“The lies kept changing as needed,” Waggoner told the Washington Post in 2013.

Dietz later got into coaching, first at the college level and then for the nascent NFL’s  Redskins team from 1933-34.