Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sam Baugh, the Greatest Football Player there ever was.

I picked up the paper and saw that Samuel Adrian "Sammy" Baugh passed from legend into Glory yesterday. Without a doubt, he was the greatest player that football ever saw.

He played both quarterback on offense and safety on defense, plus was the punter for the Washington Redskins. As noted in his Wikipedia entry:
By the time he retired, Baugh set 13 NFL records in three player positions: quarterback, punter, and defensive back.

Two of his records as quarterback still stand: most seasons leading the league in passing (six; tied with Steve Young) and most seasons leading the league with the lowest interception percentage (five). He is also second in highest single-season completion percentage (70.33), most seasons leading the league in yards gained (four) and most seasons leading the league in completion percentage (seven).

As a punter, Baugh retired with the NFL record for highest punting average in a career (45.1 yards), and is still 2nd all-time (Shane Lechler 46.5 yards), and has the best (51.4 in 1940) and third best (48.7 in 1941) season marks. As a defensive back, he was the first player in league history to intercept four passes in a game, and is the only player to lead the league in passing, punting and interceptions in the same season. Baugh also led the league in punting from 1940 through 1943.

The game in which he intercepted four passes, he also threw for four touchdowns - against Detroit in 1943.

My favorite story about Sam Baugh (he was known as Sammy or Slingin' Sammy, but preferred Sam) was about the 1940 title game, which the Bears won 73-0 (still the most lopsided game in pro football history). Earlier that season, the Redskins had won a close game against the Bears, 7-3, and this game figured to be close as well. The Bears took an early lead, 7-0, on the second play of the game when their fullback, "Bullet Bill" Osmanski, broke off a 68 yard dash to the end zone. The Redskins responded by methodically marching down the field and Baugh hit Charlie Malone in the end zone with a perfect pass. Unfortunately, the usually sure-handed receiver dropped the pass and the Redskins failed to score. After the game, the sportswriters wanted to know if that was a turning point - "Would the game have been different had Malone caught that pass?"

Sam reflected, momentarily and drawled, "Sure, the final score would have been 73-7."

Sam Baugh was a man. The greatest who ever played football.


A tribute on the ESPN website.

Monday, December 15, 2008


It isn't just James Gleick or Bruce Feiler, consider this from John Steinbeck:

The split second has been growing more and more important to us. And as human activities become more and more intermeshed and integrated, the split tenth of a second will emerge, and then a new name must be made for the split hundredth, until one day, although I don't believe it, we'll say, "Oh, the hell with it. What's wrong with an hour?" But it isn't silly, this preoccupation with small time units. One thing late or early can disrupt everything around it, and the disturbance runs outward in bands like the waves from a dropped stone in a quiet pool.

-John Steinbeck, East of Eden, 1952 (Chapter 49).