Sammy Baugh arrived on the pro football scene in 1937, the same year the Redskins moved to Washington from Boston. The Texas Christian star was the team’s first round pick that year. Over the next 16 seasons “Slingin’ Sammy” not only helped establish the pro game in the nation’s capital, he also was a major influence in the offensive revolution that occurred in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
When Baugh first started with the Redskins pro football was largely a grind-it-out ground game. The forward pass was something to be used with caution, and never inside your 30-yard line, except in desperate situations. By the time Baugh was through, the forward pass was a primary offensive weapon. Obviously, such a change could not be totally brought about by one individual. But Baugh was the catalyst that changed the game. No one had seen a passer who could throw with such accuracy.
Baugh started his pro career as a single wing tailback and didn't make the switch to the T-formation until 1944. He won a record-setting six NFL passing titles and earned first-team All-NFL honors seven times in his career. Sammy also led the NFL in punting four straight years from 1940 through 1943. Extremely versatile, he led the NFL in passing, pass interceptions, and punting in 1943.
One of his best single performances came on “Sammy Baugh Day” in 1947 when he passed for 355 yards and 6 touchdowns against the Chicago Cardinals, that season’s eventual champions. Baugh, although highly competitive, was still comparatively easy-going and never lost his sense of humor. When the Chicago Bears defeated the Redskins, 73-0, in the famous 1940 NFL title battle, a Redskins end dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone. Reporters asked Baugh if the outcome would have been different had the pass been caught. "Yeah," Baugh answered, "It would have made it 73-7."
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