Sonny Jurgensen riddled enemy defenses with picture-perfect bullets for 18 seasons in the National Football League. With Philadelphia for seven seasons and Washington for 11 more, Sonny – one of the finest pure passers ever – accumulated a seemingly endless list of individual records.
Even at the age of 40 in his final 1974 season, Jurgensen won his third NFL individual passing crown. Particularly in Washington, Jurgensen became a folklore-type hero. “I had as much fun playing as anyone,” he once said. “But on the field, it was serious business. I was interested in winning.”
Whether the Redskins won or lost, adoring fans knew Jurgensen would provide game-long excitement, throwing long and short, dissecting defenses, and working on the clock. A classic drop-back passer, Sonny was respected for his ability to deliver the ball at the last moment under the pressure of a vicious pass rush.
In many circles, he was recognized as the best passer of his time. A five-time Pro Bowl selection, his stats include 2,433 completions for an impressive 32,224 yards and 255 touchdowns. “All I ask of my blockers is four seconds, “ the veteran quarterback once explained. "I try to stay on my feet and not be forced out of the pocket. I beat people by throwing, not running. I won't let them intimidate me into doing something which is not the best thing I can do."
In 1969, Vince Lombardi took over the Redskins’ coaching. Many wondered if Lombardi and Jurgensen could work together. Noted for his taskmaster approach to coaching, Lombardi quickly developed a strong admiration for the fun-loving quarterback. "Jurgensen is a great quarterback," the coach said without hesitation. "He hangs in there under adverse conditions. He may be the best the league has ever seen. He is the best I have seen."
Christian Adolph Jurgensen, III
August 23, 1934
Wilmington, North Carolina
New Hanover (Wilmington, N.C.)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame:
January 29, 1983
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame:
July 30, 1983
Edward Bennett Williams, President, Redskins
Other Members of Class of 1983: Bobby Bell
, Sid Gillman
, Bobby Mitchell
, Paul Warfield
18 seasons, 218 games
4th round (43rd player overall) in 1957 by Philadelphia Eagles