Norm Van Brocklin was a standout quarterback for 12 seasons in the National Football League, the first nine with the Los Angeles Rams. Then he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958 and, within three years, the “Dutchman” had guided the Eagles to the NFL championship.
Without a doubt it was his finest performance in a brilliant career. One of the most colorful and competitive individuals that pro football has ever seen, Van Brocklin blazed a sometimes stormy, but always eventful path in his dozen campaigns as an active player.
Norm left the University of Oregon, where he still had a year's eligibility remaining, to join the Rams in 1949. The only problem, from Van Brocklin's standpoint, was that the Rams already had one future Hall of Fame quarterback in Bob Waterfield.
The net result was that two great quarterbacks had to share passing duties for a few seasons, a situation that any great competitor, which Norm certainly was, couldn't be expected to accept with any enthusiasm. Still, Van Brocklin won the NFL passing title in both 1950 and 1952, even though he was playing only half of the time on offense. He added a third passing championship in 1954.
His greatest day as a passer came in 1951 when he threw for a record 554 yards against the New York Yanks. It was also in 1951 that Van Brocklin threw a 73-yard pass to Tom Fears that gave the Rams a 24-17 victory over the Browns and the only NFL title the Rams had won since moving to Los Angeles.
In Philadelphia he was given a free hand at running the offensive show, and behind his leadership the Eagles won the NFL title in 1960. Thus, the “Dutchman” was the only man to defeat a Lombardi-coached Green Bay team in championship game play.