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(Notre Dame)...6'1'', 189...Wayne Vernal Millner ... Two-time Notre Dame All-American ... Hero of famous Ohio State upset, 1935 ... Fierce competitor at best in crucial games ... Caught 55-yard, 78-yard TD passes in 1937 NFL championship ... Starred on four Redskins divisional title teams ... Top Redskin receiver at retirement with 124 catches ... Career interrupted by Navy service ... Player-coach in final 1945 season ... Born January 31, 1913, in Roxbury, Massachusetts ... Died November 19, 1976, at age of 63.
When Wayne Millner joined the Boston Redskins in 1936, the news so excited the team's new coach, Ray Flaherty, he promised to resign if "we don't win the championship with that big Yankee playing end."
The Redskins did win the Eastern Division title that year and Millner, a star on both offense and defense, was a major contributor. For the next few seasons during which the Redskins, who moved to Washington in 1937, won two more divisional titles and one NFL championship, Wayne became the favorite target of the brilliant passer, Sammy Baugh.
The two combined for many a blockbuster play during some of the Redskins' finest seasons. In the 1937 championship showdown with the Chicago Bears, Baugh threw touchdown passes of 55 and 78 yards to Millner, then used his as a decoy when he threw the game’s winning pass to Ed Justice. Wayne wound up the day with nine catches for 160 yards.
Millner was among the last of the outstanding two-way ends. When he wasn't catching Baugh's passes, he was blocking for him. He was competitive, determined, and known for his sure hands.
A “money player,” he was always at his best when the stakes were the highest and the pressure was on full force. Millner, who entered the Navy after the 1941 season, wound up his seven-year career in 1945 with 124 receptions for 1,578 yards and 12 touchdowns, which were the best ever for a Redskin up to that time.
Had he played for any other pro team, he might have captured more headlines but the Redskins had Baugh who gained most of the publicity. There may also have been one other factor. So often did Millner deliver under pressure, the press and fans and even his own coaches came to take his clutch performances for granted.
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Posted on 20 May
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