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    Home »  Redskin History » Legends » Sammy Baugh
Sammy Baugh Pic 1
 Sammy Baugh#33
Position
Quarterback, Punter, Defensive Back
Born
March 17, 1914
Date-of-Birth
Temple, Texas
Height
6'2"
Weight
182 lbs
College
Texas Christian University
NFL Career
16 seasons
Teams
Washington Redskins, 1937-1952
Pro Career:
» Drafted 6th overall in the first round of the 1937 draft
» All-NFL seven times
» NFL passing leader six times
» NFL passing, punting AND interception champ, 1943
» Only player to lead the NFL in an offensive, defensive, and special teams category
» Top punter in NFL history
» Career records: 21,886 yards, 187 TDs passing, 45.1-yard punting average, 31 interceptions
» Only player in Redskin history to have his jersey retired (33)
Baugh's Hall of Fame Bust
Baugh ThrowsBaugh Intercepts
Baugh PuntsBaugh and Kids
Baugh inducted to Hall of FameHe could even act! Seen here with Bob Hope.
Get Redskins Gear Here
  Player Profile   Notable Achievements
Sammy Baugh - The Best Ever?
By Scott Hurrey


Slingin Sammy Baugh Many pundits around the NFL will argue that the conversation to decide the best NFL quarterback ever should include names like Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana, but where does Sammy Baugh rank among these names? Furthermore, where does Baugh rank amongst the greatest players of all-time?

Baugh should be in consideration for the greatest quarterback ever. He is considered one of the founding fathers of the modern-day NFL passing game. Baugh was a key cog in the machine that began transforming the National Football League from a regionalized sport known for the violence and brutality that purveyed the game in the thirties. Certainly, this distinction alone should add Baugh to the "Greatest Quarterback Ever" conversation.

"Slinging Sammy" Baugh, a nickname a Texas sports writer bestowed upon Sammy for his ability to throw the baseball, brings more to the table in this conversation than just the way he changed the game forever. From 1937 to 1952, the 6'3" Texan was the face of the Washington Redskins - and the un-doing of many unsuspecting opponents.

Many things were changing for the Washington Redskins in 1937. The owner, George Preston Marshall, moved the team from Boston to Washington before that season. In the midst of all of the turmoil associated with moving the franchise, the team's first round pick decided that baseball was the way to go, and Sammy Baugh chose the St. Louis Cardinals. It did not take Sammy long, however, to figure out that his inability to hit a curve ball and the prospect of being stuck behind Marty Marion in the organization was a sign that Baugh should be playing football. After signing a $5000 contract with a whopping $500 signing bonus, Baugh wasted no time making a name for himself in the nation's capital.

As a tailback in the single-wing and double-wing formations, Baugh was responsible for passing and punting, while wingback Riley Smith handled the play calling duties. Baugh easily made the transition to the NFL as a tailback, having spent 1934-1936 leading the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs to prominence in the college ranks from the same position. In his first season with the Redskins, Baugh not only led the league in passing, but also lead the franchise to its first NFL championship, victimizing the Chicago Bears defense for 335 yards and three touchdown passes, en route to a 28-21 victory. Baugh set the tone early - on the first play from scrimmage as a matter of fact - when he dropped back into his own end zone and connected on a 42-yard strike to Cliff Battles.

In 1940, the Washington Redskins introduced the T-formation. In this new formation, the quarterback combined the play-calling responsibilities of the wingback, with the passing duties of the tailback. From this new position, Baugh was entrusted with full control of the offense, and Sammy took full advantage.

From 1940 to 1949, Sammy Baugh led the league in passing an astonishing five times. These five combined with his passing championship from his rookie campaign, brought his career total to six; a feat only equaled by Steve Young. In 162 games, Sammy Baugh went 1693 for 2995 (56.5%) for 21,886 yards and 187 touchdowns. At the time of Baugh's retirement, he held numerous records, some of which still stand to this day.

Baugh holds the highest yard-per-catch average for a single game, posting an 18.58 yards-per-catch average (446 yards on 24 completions) against the Boston Patriots on October 31 1948. In 1945, Baugh assembled the sixth best season ever by a quarterback, finishing with a 109.9-passer rating, including a phenomenal 73.3% completion percentage (a mark that went unchallenged until 1982). His five seasons with the lowest interception-per-pass attempt percentage is still the most among NFL quarterbacks.

Baugh brought the forward pass from its reputation as a desperation play to a bonafide weapon during his 16 years of professional football. His accuracy was uncanny, as was illustrated in his first practice in 1937. As the story goes, Coach Ray Flaherty told the rookie tailback that passing in the NFL required accuracy. Coach Flaherty told Baugh that he must "hit 'em in the eye." The TCU grad replied, "Which eye?"

This story was widely believed to be a myth; an urban legend created to accentuate the great passing skills that Baugh possessed. It turned out to be true, with Baugh himself confirming the validity of the story to Shirley Povich of the Washington Post in the 90's.

The infamous crossbar that cost Baugh and the Redskins the 1945 Championship gameCertainly these accomplishments put Sammy Baugh in the conversation of greatest quarterbacks, but why should that put him in consideration as the greatest football player? Well, Slinging Sammy is to this day, one of the greatest punters to ever step on the field. His 51.4 yard average un 1940 is still the highest yards-per-punt average for a season in the history of the NFL - and by the way, the 48.73 yards-per-punt in 1941 is still good for third all-time. Baugh led the league in punting from 1940-1943, the most seasons any one punter has ever led the league, and his career 45.1-yard average is second all-time.

Aside from passing and punting, Baugh was also one of the greatest defensive backs of his day, still tied for the most interceptions in a single game with 4, albeit with 18 other players. In 1943, Baugh etched his name in stone with an accomplishment unheard of in today's specialized game of professional football: Baugh led the league in passing (133-239, 1754 yards and 23 touchdowns), punting (50 for 2,295 yards; a 45.9 yard average) and interceptions (11 for 112 yards).

Baugh also still holds six records in Washington Redskin lore, including most career touchdown passes (187), highest season punting average (51.4) and most interceptions in a game (4). His famous number 33 is the only number officially retired by the Redskins, and his name has become synonymous with excellence and success around Washington.

Was Sammy Baugh the greatest football player ever? A case can be made for other players, but no one can deny that the only living member of the 1963 charter class of the Hall of Fame has to be considered.

-Scott Hurrey

Editor's Notes:
For a complete list of Sammy Baugh's records and accomplishments (as of 2005)
Be sure to check out Sammy's Hall of Fame page or his Wikipedia page for more information.


Career Passing Statistics

Year G Att. Comp. Pct Yds. TD Int Rating
1937 11 171 81 47.4 1127 8 14 50.5
1938 9 128 63 49.2 853 5 11 48.1
1939 9 96 53 55.2 518 6 9 52.3
1940 11 177 111 62.7 1367 12 10 85.6
1941 11 193 106 54.9 1236 10 19 52.2
1942 11 225 132 58.7 1524 16 11 82.5
1943 10 239 133 55.6 1754 23 19 78
1944 8 146 82 56.2 849 4 8 59.4
1945 8 182 128 70.3 1669 11 4 109.9
1946 11 161 87 54 1163 8 17 54.2
1947 12 354 210 59.3 2938 25 15 92
1948 12 315 185 58.7 2599 22 23 78.3
1949 12 255 145 56.9 1903 18 14 81.2
1950 11 166 90 54.2 1130 10 11 68.1
1951 12 154 67 43.5 1104 7 17 43.8
1952 7 33 20 60.6 152 2 1 79.4
Career 165 2995 1693 56.5 21,886 187 203 72.2


» He passed for six touchdowns in a single game twice (Oct. 31, 1943 and Nov. 23, 1947).
» Has a street (avenue) named after him in his hometown of Rotan, Texas
» 50th Anniversary Team by the NFL (1969)
» 75th Anniversary Team by the NFL (1994)
» 36th greatest athlete of the 20th century by Burt Randolph Sugar (1995)
» 64th greatest athlete of the 20th century by ESPN (1999)
» 43rd greatest athlete of the 20th century by the Associated Press (1999)
» 3rd greatest NFL player of the 20th century by the Associated Press (1999)
» 11th greatest NFL player of the 20th century by The Sporting News (1999)
» 4th greatest college football player by Sport Magazine (1999)
» 3rd greatest college football player by College Football News (2003)

  Career Defensive Statistics:

Year
G
Int
Yds.
Avg.
TD
1937
11
0
0
0.0
0
1938
9
0
0
0.0
0
1939
9
0
0
0.0
0
1940
11
3
84
28.0
0
1941
11
4
83
20.8
0
1942
11
5
77
15.4
0
1943
10
11
112
10.2
0
1944
8
4
21
5.3
0
1945
8
4
114
28.5
0
1946
11
0
0
0.0
0
1947
12
0
0
0.0
0
1948
12
0
0
0.0
0
1949
12
0
0
0.0
0
1950
11
0
0
0.0
0
1951
12
0
0
0.0
0
1952
7
0
0
0.0
0
All
165
31
491
15.8
0
 tomohawk Career Punt Statistics:
Year
G
No.
Yds.
Avg.
1939
9
26
998
38.4
1940
11
35
1799
51.4
1941
11
30
1462
48.7
1942
11
37
1785
48.2
1943
10
50
2295
45.9
1944
8
44
1787
40.6
1945
8
33
1429
43.3
1946
11
33
1488
45.1
1947
12
35
1528
43.7
1948
12
0
0
0.0
1949
12
1
53
53.0
1950
11
9
352
39.1
1951
12
4
221
55.3
1952
7
1
48
48.0
All
165
338
15,245
45.1




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