Breathtaking track man and WR played in ’70 and ’71 for the Buffs.
Caught 36 passes for 665 yards and 3 TDs, while rushing for 354 yards on 31 carries (5 TDs).
Selected in the 3rd round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders.
Played during the prime years of the ‘Dead Ball Era’.
Had 60 catches, a league leading 1092 yards and 13 TDs in 1974.
Added another 893 yards and 9 TDs in ’75.
Had 1,111 yards, an 88 yard long, and a league leading 12 TDs in ’76.
Curiously his 24.2 yards per catch did not lead the NFL that year- despite catching 46 passes.
In ’77 posted 33 receptions for 540 yards and 6 TDs.
Continued to be a long bomb threat throughout the remainder of his career, posting an 86 yard catch in ’80 and a 99 yard TD in ’83.
Retired after the 1985 season.
Was the bridge between two eras of the Silver and Black winning Super Bowls XI, XV, and XVIII.
Played one season in the Arena Football League in 1988 for the Los Angeles Cobras.
NFL Record – 99 Yard TD reception (tied)
Pro Bowl 1974-’77
Pro Football Hall of Fame 2022
It is a testament to the Silver and Black that Branch finally is in the HoF. Long overdue, he was being held back by his ‘Dead Ball Era’ stats, a logger jam of WR with sexier stats, and a stigma against inducting too many Raiders from that era into the HoF. Frequently the most dangerous offensive player on the field, Branch’s honor was long deserved.
Cliff Branch passed away August 3rd, 2019 of natural causes. He was 71. He was posthumously was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2022.
Sonny Jurgensen is the original gunslinger. I remember the first time I saw archival footage of him sauntering up to the line, surveying the defense, and showing off that pot belly like he didn’t care. He then cannon armed the ball down the sidelines for a TD. It was a pretty amazing feat to see.
When Jurgensen played college ball back in… 1954, he played both quarterback and defensive back for the Duke Blue Devils. Because this was the stone age of offenses, Jurgensen’s college numbers were pretty ugly (77/156, 1119 yards, 6 TD passes to 16 interceptions). He’d be selected in the 4th round of the 1957 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sonny didn’t get a chance to start until 1961 as he was backup to Norm Van Brocklin. Regardless, he took the league by storm setting NFL records for passing yards (3723) and passing TDs (32). He wouldn’t be so successful in 1962, and after a injury riddled 1963 and losing records in both seasons, Sonny was traded to the Washington Redskins, in exchange for two players.
Thus began the second stanza of his playing career. Jurgensen played for the Redskins for the next 11 seasons. He snapped the passing record that he set previously in 1961 again in 1967 with 3747 yards, while missing tying his TD record that year by just one TD pass. Still he’d set another NFL record with 508 pass attempts. All this was more amazing in the fact that he accomplished all of these feats during the notorious ‘dead ball era’. Sonny also shared the Redskins’ deep hatred for the Dallas Cowboys and led the Redskins to Super Bowl VII. He’d retire after the 1974 season- at the age of 40.
Amazingly enough it wasn’t until 1983 that Sonny was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In the meantime however the state of North Carolina has recognized him in a variety of capacities. Sonny briefly also did color commentary on TV and the radio.
Sonny signed these two cards for me for a nominal fee. I really loved the Topps 1970, even though it was a reused press image from another card. His Crown Royale Living Legends card, really lends itself to being autographed. I like the design and look, and there’s plenty of space to be played with to put the autograph on. The image of Sonny going back to pass is an oft used illustration, but at any larger sizes I’m not really fond of it. There’s just something off about it.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.