Slingin’ Sammy Baugh a True LegendPosted: December 19, 2008
Sammy Baugh, one of the greatest quarterbacks in history, passed away this week at the age of 94.
In a list of top 10 all-time quarterbacks presented by The Sportslifer earlier this year, Baugh was ranked eighth overall, sandwiched between Roger Staubach and Bart Starr. Johnny Unitas leads the list.
Sammy Baugh (Redskins, 1937-52)
Slingin’ Sammy dominated the late 1930s and 1940s, winning six passing titles, two NFL championships, and nine All-Pro berths. And if that wasn’t enough, he could punt too….very well.
— From the SportsLifer archives
Baugh spent his entire 16-year career with the Washington Redskins. He won NFL championships in his rookie year and again in 1942.
His greatest year was 1943, when he led the league in passing, interceptions (with 11) and punting. In one game that year, Baugh threw four touchdown passes and intercepted four passes.
When he retired following the 1952 season, Baugh had thrown for 187 touchdowns and held virtually all major NFL passing records. During the 1945 season, Baugh completed 128 of 182 passes for a 70.33 completion percentage, which was an NFL record then and remains the second best today (to Ken Anderson, 70.55 in 1982).
And In 1940, he averaged 51.4 yards per punt, still the NFL single-season record.
First Hall of Fame Class
Baugh was in the inaugural class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, one of 17 inductees and the list survivor from a list of legendary players that includes Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe. In 1994, the NFL named Baugh as one of four quarterbacks on its 75th-anniversary team; the others were Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana.
A graduate of TCU, Baugh led the Horned Frogs to wins in the 1936 Sugar Bowl and first-ever Cotton Bowl in 1937. In 2003, College Football News named Baugh the third best college football player in history.
He was also the first coach of the New York Titans (later the Jets), posting successive 7-7 records in 1960 and 1961 when the team played at the Polo Grounds. Baugh’s 14-14 record was a Jets best until Bill Parcells went 29-19 between 1997 and 1999.
A tale from Baugh’s rookie season in his New York Times obituary typifies his uncanny passing capability and self-confidence.
Baugh was taking the field for his first practice session with the Redskins when his coach, Ray Flaherty, handed him the football.
“They tell me you’re quite a passer,” Flaherty said.
“I reckon I can throw a little,” Baugh replied.
“Show me,” Flaherty said. “Hit that receiver in the eye.”
To which Baugh supposedly responded, “Which eye?”