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DP article on Synder and 70th


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Here is a positive spin on Synder and the 70th Anniv. Redskins.


Snyder's 70 hits the mark

Published June 15 2002

Warner Hessler

You can imagine the skepticism among the regulars in the media room at Redskin Park a couple months ago when it was learned that Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder planned to commemorate the franchise's 70th anniversary by forming a committee to select the 70 greatest Redskins of all time.

Just another one of Snyder's marketing ploys, we said. What's he going to do when a truly memorable milestone, like the 75th anniversary, comes around? Doesn't he realize this is the 65th anniversary of the Redskins, not the 70th? They were the Boston Braves for the first five years, you know.

Well, maybe it was a marketing ploy to create some excitement and keep the team in the news. You can nitpick the 65- or 70-year designation, and Snyder may not be able to top this promotion in five years.

But the press conference Thursday, which 14 of the 70 attended, was fun and kind of interesting. It was fun, for example, to see that quarterback Billy Kilmer hadn't gained, or lost, any weight since the last spotting. He still looks like he did as a player, like a guy who could walk out of a bar and play quarterback.

And it was interesting to finally learn why he threw so many wobbly passes. He was born with a defect that prevented him from spreading the four fingers on his right hand. FEx-teammate Sonny Jurgensen spilled the beans on that one.

It was nice to see receiver Art Monk and find out how he is handling being snubbed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. He pretended it didn't bother him, but nobody who watched this prideful man catch 888 passes in 14 seasons with the Redskins was buying it.

As expected, there was a bit of quibbling over some of the names on the list, and some of the names that weren't.

For sure, one had to wonder why backup receiver Ricky Sanders was on it, along with the name of a quarterback (Mark Rypien) who had one great season, and another quarterback (Doug Williams) who played one great half.

The committee missed the boat when it included those three and left off offensive linemen Jim Schrader and Mark Schlereth, along with defensive tackle Bob Toneff. Combined, they went to eight Pro Bowls.

The question "Who is the greatest of the greatest?" was put to the former stars.

One named fullback John Riggins, saying he was the "heart and soul" of the Joe Gibbs era. Another named Charley Taylor, a Hall of Fame receiver and a fierce blocker. Monk and cornerback Darrell Green also received votes.

Me, I'll take quarterback Sammy Baugh.

It's a rare athlete who can stand out at two positions. Probably the best of the modern era was Deion Sanders, who was arguably the NFL's best cornerback and one of the best punt returners.

Baugh didn't just play three positions during a career that lasted from 1937 to 1952, he was frequently the best player in the league at three positions. He led the NFL in passing six times, in touchdown passes twice, in punting four times and in interceptions once.

In 1943, he had what I think stands out as the most incredible season by a player. He led the league in passing, led the league in interceptions (11 in 10 games), and led the league in punting (45.9-yard average). For what it's worth, he still holds NFL punting records for single-season average (51.4 in 1940) and career average (45.1).

For whatever reasons he did it, Snyder got the fans and media talking about his squad in June. Maybe he should have waited and presented a 75th anniversary team, but he has five years to dream up something better.

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