Sunday, December 21, 2008

RIP Sammy Baugh

By Rick Morris

Slingin’ Sammy Baugh was one of the NFL’s first great megastars, dominating back in the days well before color television. It’s tough to pinpoint his exact place in history because of the changes in the game, but the consensus is that he was one of the very best QBs ever. In this analysis published here last spring, fellow FDH Lounge Dignitary Nate Noy rated him as the 6th best quarterback of all time while I placed him 11th, but either designation carries great respect.

Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell did a wonderful job of capturing Baugh’s impact for those too young to appreciate it:

“Sammy Baugh, a man whose face is almost completely forgotten but whose legend is still vivid generations after he retired, is the single star that created the Redskins brand.

Baugh died Wednesday at 94, as the founder, the inspiration and the symbol of everything that is burgundy-and-gold. …

Baugh remains, even in Washington, that purest of legends, the player who exists only in the retelling of his deeds from parents to children. How many have even seen him in the flesh? Compared to Baugh, Joe DiMaggio was a publicity hound. Better, perhaps, that Baugh retired quietly to his 7,600-acre ranch in Texas, to his five children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, and almost never showed up back here in his 'second home' to take bows.

Still, Baugh's enormous stature as the last living member of the NFL's first Hall of Fame class contrasts with his near invisibility in a celebrity age. Every decade or so, reporters would seek him out for an update-on-Sam story. They always found him a gentleman, a fellow with an anecdote punctuated by a single 'hell' or 'damn' and a delicious demonstration of restraint.

As long as people know the Redskins, they will know Sammy Baugh. He's the Texan who branded them.”

Additionally, this AP video gives a good sense of his life also:

Sammy Baugh was a true great of the gridiron and a man of tremendous class also. RIP.

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