This article is dedicated to my good friend, Norm Gibson, who passed away unexpectedly last week in Toronto. Our business relationship became friendship as well during the past two years, and I will miss him greatly.
Here’s wishing the area and the people ravaged by Katrina as speedy a recovery as possible. Having lived in the South and having frequently traveled the entire Gulf Coast on business during those years, I became a great fan of that area, and especially New Orleans. We cannot possibly imagine what those people are going through, those fortunate enough to have survived Katrina. Please contribute as much as you can to the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Donation Fund. To make credit card contributions, please phone 800-HELP NOW. Or, to save time as that phone number is invariably jammed, you can do so by accessing www.redcross.org, and go through the convenient steps to make your credit card donations to Hurricane Katrina Donation Fund. If Katrina did not affect your life, then contributing to the Donation Fund is the least you can do, and you should feel very fortunate in the process.
Story of the Week
He wasn’t very tall for a NFL quarterback; 6’-0”. He had a pronounced gut on his 200-pound frame. He was not the most mobile of quarterbacks, and rarely ran the football. I like QB’s who can run out of trouble and create havoc for opposing defenses on the ground when it’s necessary, so on the above information alone, Sonny Jurgensen would not be my all-time top choice. Now for the good news and why I’m writing about him; Jurgensen was as great a pure passer as anyone who ever played the position of QB.
The drop-back form, classic throwing style, and sharp, tight spirals were Sonny’s trademarks. No quarterback ever looked better while threading the needle, and few could match the excitement he generated with his golden right arm. Jurgensen was a human highlight film at Duke University, and then for 18 NFL seasons in Philadelphia and Washington.
Few would argue that Jurgensen was the NFL’s best pure passer over a career that stretched from 1957 to 1974. He spent seven years with the Eagles and 11 seasons with the ‘Skins. He seldom left the pocket, and tossed the ball at the last possible instant. Whether his rockets were short, long or in-between, it didn’t matter. They were invariably right on target.
Of his 18 NFL seasons, only eight of his generally weak teams were winners. And his bad timing dogged him his entire career. He was Norm Van Brocklin’s backup in 1960 when the Eagles won the NFL championship. And he was aging and injured in 1972 when George Allen’s Redskins advanced to the Super Bowl behind Billy Kilmer. But he still managed to make his pronounced mark on the NFL.
The proof of Jurgensen’s genius is in the numbers. Three NFL passing titles were framed by five 3,000-yard seasons, 25 games of 300-plus yards, and five 400-plus yards. His 32,224 passing yards and 255 touchdown tosses rank among the all-time leaders. He once threw TD passes in 23 straight games, five in a single contest twice. Too often, Sonny was the only offensive weapon of his weak teams.
When Sonny retired, he owned a career 82.6 passer rating and a .571 completion percentage. His well-documented escapades off the field only enhanced his image. In 1969, Vince Lombardi stated that ‘Jurgensen was the best passer he ever saw, and that no one ever hung in the pocket longer under adverse circumstances.’ Coach Lombardi was right; Sonny was a picture-perfect passer.
Sonny Jurgensen is enshrined in the Duke University Hall of Fame. He was named to the 1960’s All-Decade NFL team. His ultimate honor is the fact that he is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
Last Week’s Trivia
Everything that can be documented has been documented about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s victory over Russia to get to the final game. But to win the Gold Medal in 1980, the U.S. defeated Finland.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who holds the record for most strikeouts by a pitcher in a World Series game? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.