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Dascenzo: Sonny's side up?


The Herald-Sun

May 31, 2004 : 11:13 pm ET

DURHAM -- Is Sonny Jurgensen the greatest Washington Redskin ever?

Well, take a minute to scrutinize the voting poll that Pro Football Weekly is currently conducting where you get a chance to vote for the best player of every NFL team. Jurgensen, the former Duke quarterback, might just be the best. But it would be unfair not to take a serious look at the five leading candidates.

-- Sammy Baugh (1937-52). Known as "Slingin' Sammy," the former TCU passer/punter/DB is actually regarded as the greatest quarterback in pro football history by at least one author. Peter King rated Baugh No. 1-- ahead of John Elway, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino and Johnny Unitas -- because of Baugh's versatility.

Who knows the age of the voters? Baugh was all-NFL seven times, is the first Redskins player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is the only Redskin to have his jersey (No. 33) retired by the franchise.

Oldtimers smile when Baugh's name is mentioned and rightfully so. One of the initial stars of the forward pass, Baugh threw for 21,886 yards and 187 touchdowns. He was intercepted just 31 times, and he had a career punting average of 45.1 yards, something which undoubtedly influenced King's poll in a book, published by Sports Illustrated, about the greatest QBs ever.

-- Sonny Jurgensen (1964-74). Was there a better pure passer of his time than Christian Adolph Jurgensen III? Drafted by Philadelphia, where he played seven seasons, and dealt to Washington, where he played another 11, Jurgensen was terrific, at age 40, in 1974.

Duke fans old enough to remember Jurgensen as a Blue Devils defensive back and quarterback also remember his coach, Bill Murray, wasn't pass happy. Jurgensen played at Duke from 1954-56. The Blue Devils finished 20-8-3 during that time, and Jurgensen isn't even among Duke's top 10 all-time passing leaders.

It was in the NFL where Jurgensen's arm was unleashed and became a brilliant weapon. He threw 255 touchdown passes, completed 2,433 passes for 32,224 yards and owns a career passer rating of 82.6. He won his third NFL passing title in 1974 and is one of three former Duke players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The others are George McAfee and Ace Parker.

-- Bobby Mitchell (1962-68). Like Jurgensen, Mitchell was not drafted by the Redkins. Mitchell was a seventh-round choice from Illinois by the Browns in 1958 and played just seven seasons in Washington. Originally a running back, Mitchell became a fierce flanker for the Redkins. Along his way to making four Pro Bowls, Mitchell caught 521 passes, 91 for touchdowns. His first six seasons with the Redskins, Mitchell never caught fewer than 58 passes.

-- John Riggins (1976-79; 1981-85). The former Kansas back arrived in Washington from the New York Jets. He skipped the 1980 season, which the voters shouldn't hold against him, and likely is remembered for his 43-yard touchdown run against the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII that lifted the Skins to a 27-17 victory . In that game, Riggins carried 38 times for 166 yards -- one of the best Super Bowl showings by a running back.

In 14 NFL seasons, nine with the Redskins, Riggins played in 175 games and was a workhorse in the backfield.

-- Darrell Green (1983-2002). One of the greatest cornerbacks ever to wear an NFL jersey, Green seemed to last forever. He intercepted 54 passes, going a record 19 straight seasons with at least one. Look for this guy to get a lot of the younger votes. Baugh, Jurgensen, Mitchell and Riggins are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It's safe to say Darrell Green will join them.

It's a tough call but the more you think about it, you can build a strong case for Jurgensen.

Have a comment or a suggestion for a column? Frank Dascenzo can be reached by phone at 419-6609 or by e-mail at fdascenzo@heraldsun.com.

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I give the edge to Darrell, since he was ALWAYS a Redskin. Never played a down for another team, even at the end.

Hard to argue against Baugh though...the guy was a two-way TERROR.

Mitchell, from what I gather, was far from thrilled to have been traded to the 'Skins, because of their segregated history. Can't blame him obviously, but he never really seemed like Mr. Redskin to me.

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Originally posted by McMetal

Mitchell, from what I gather, was far from thrilled to have been traded to the 'Skins, because of their segregated history. Can't blame him obviously, but he never really seemed like Mr. Redskin to me.

Yeah but when he got here, he stayed for over 30 years. He did everything ... HOF player, scout, coach and even held front office duties and then that knucklehead SS comes in and lets some 3rd string nobody wear his jersey.

Not that I'm voting for him as THE BEST Redskin ever, but he was more "Mr. Redskin" than any of the other options on this list.

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Okay, So Darrell and John Riggins are the only players from the Joe Gibbs era even being considered as the best.

So Joe won 3 Superbowls with only 2 players being considered in this thread.

Man! and we now have FA and players like Lavar, Coles, Ramsey, Samuels , Jansen and others.

It's gonna be real....

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I just want them to retire #28 and hope that Green makes the HOF. However, I sitll think that Sammy Baugh is the greatest redskin, he defined the forward pass it seems and was very versatile. There's Green, Riggins, Mitchell, Monk, Sonny, but Baugh seems to be the oner person who people hold the most reverence for.

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Hard to argue against Baugh though...the guy was a two-way TERROR.

Actually he was a three way terror.

He has the best one year punting average (51.something I believe), as well as the best career punting average.

One year he led the league in INT's. Not thrown; made. He intercepted 12 passes while starting at db (in addition to starting at qb).

and that career 187 TD to 31 int ratio is incredible.

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