Tag Archives: greatest players of the dead ball era

Jurgensen, Sonny

Cards: Topps 1970, Crown Royale 2012
Acquired: 2018, C/o Home*
Sent: 10/20   Received: 11/6  (17 days)
* Donation enclosed

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. 

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