Sammy Baugh “Slingin’ Sammy”
Quarterback Sammy Baugh is one of those names that you know, but you might not know that much about him. For starters he is in both the College Football Hall of Fame, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he earned the nickname “Slinging” Sammy Baugh because when he began his career in the 1930s throwing the football was not very popular, and he was great at it. The old adage of three things can happen when you throw the football and two of them are not positive started to lose its value with Baugh leading the charge. Ushering in the era of the forward pass.
A Horned Frog
Baugh also played baseball at TCU and was signed into the St. Louis Cardinals system as a third baseman. He made it as far as the International League but ultimately gave up the game because he thought his football prospects were better.
Mr Baugh Goes to Washington
Sammy Baugh was drafted the Washington Redskins with the 6th pick of the 1937 NFL Draft. There was a lot expected of him and as a rookie he was the highest paid player on the team, lining up at quarterback, defensive back and punter. He immediately set an NFL record for completions in a season and led the league in passing yards. That same rookie season he led Washington to the championship game, beating Chicago 28-21. He threw for 335 yards that game, the most by a rookie quarterback until 2012 when Russell Wilson broke that record.
A lot of Baughs numbers are hard to put in context because the game has changed so much. One of the greatest changes is that players don’ play both ways (offense and defense) anymore. In 1943, perhaps his most impactful season, Baugh led the league in pass completions. punting and interceptions (by a defender). Baugh had a standout career with the Redskins and setting many records and qualifying among the leaders even til this day. His then record for completion percentage of 70.3 in the 1945 season has only been topped by three other players and he has the second best career punting average.
Hall of Famer
During his playing days Baugh set 13 NFL records, at three positions, quaterback, punter and defensive back. Even though quarterbacks are much more polished today he still has some records that still stand, including most seasons leading the league in passing – 6 (tied with Steve Young), and most seasons with the lowest interception percentage – 5.
Baugh was a two time NFL champ, made the Pro Bowl six times and was All-Pro four times. He was a quarterback on the all 1940s team along with Sid Luckman and Bob Waterfield. He was part of the very first Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class with Red Grange, George Halas, Don Hutson, Curly Lambeau and Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe. In 1999 the Associated Press named him the third best football player of the century and in 2003 College Football News also rated him the third greatest player in history.
When you are the first into the Hall of Fame, the term legend might be an understatement.
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