Samuel Adrian Baugh was born on March 17, 1914. He is a retired NFL football player who was born in Temple, Texas, the second son of James and Lucy Baugh. Baugh, who came to be widely known by the nickname “Slingin’ Sammy,” began playing football as a schoolboy in Sweetwater, Texas in the 1920s. He is considered by many as the best NFL quarterback of his time. An argument can also be made that he was the greatest football player of all time. When Baugh reported to the Redskins, the story goes, Coach Ray Flaherty handed him a ball and told him to hit that receiver running down the field in the eye. Sammy Baugh replied, “Which eye?” (1)
Sammy Baugh's Training Method
Slingin’ Sammy Baugh has an interesting off-season training technique. He attributes much of his success as a quarterback to being a rancher. “Roping calves really helps keep me tuned for passing,” Baugh says. “It keeps your eye awful sharp, makes you trigger-quick and calls for a lot of snap in the wrist. You gotta hit them calves quick, because the little old things don’t wait around to give you a second shot. The same technique holds for my forward passing.” Throughout Baugh’s career he used his quick release hitting quick passes and torturing opposing defenses. (5)
Sammy Baugh Wins Championship as Rookie
“Slingin’ Sammy” began playing for the Redskins in 1937. As a rookie, Baugh led the Washington Redskins to the league championship, an amazing feat for a rookie player.
The Bears had the Redskins backed up at their 5 yard line. “Punt formation,” Baugh told his teammates, “but we're gonna pass.” His teammates were shocked since teams rarely passed in those days, and certainly not from their own end zone. On the snap the Bears' front line powered straight ahead to block the punt. Sammy Baugh was a cool cat and tossed a pass to Cliff Battles, who went for 42 yards. A few plays later the Redskins scored, on their way to a 28-21 victory and their first NFL championship. (2)
To add even more drama, it was cold outside. The temperature at game time was 15 degrees, with a wind-chill factor of minus-6. “It was colder than hell, the coldest weather I ever played in,” Baugh told his biographer, Dennis Tuttle. “The field was a solid sheet of ice. During the warmups, we couldn't even stand up. So Coach Ray Flaherty decided to make us wear the sneakers. It may have seemed dumb, but it wasn't as dumb as trying to walk on cleats. That made a big difference, because our linemen were pushing their lineman around like they were on roller skates. The sneakers really helped our passing attack. Wayne Millner was used to cold weather and bad fields, so I looked for him a lot.” (3)
The Redskins’ quarterback was sensational, completing 17 of 34 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns of 35, 55 and 78 yards. “Baugh was a one-man team,” one of the Bears coaches told reporters. “He licked us by himself.” For his great effort, Sammy Baugh and the rest of the Redskins received $234.26 per player for winning the game. A far cry from what players get today. (2)
Baugh - Passing Leader
In 1945, Sammy Baugh had one of the finest passing seasons the league has ever seen. He set an NFL record, completing 70.3 percent of his passes. He averaged 9.2 yards per pass attempt, 11 touchdown passes and had only four interceptions for a passer rating of 109.9 in his eight games played. His record completion percentage stood for 37 years until it was broken by Ken Anderson in 1982. Baugh came on the scene with a boom and went on to lead the NFL in passing six times during his Hall of Fame career.
Sammy Baugh - Greatest Punter
In 1940, Sammy Baugh had a record season as a punter, averaging 51.4 yards per kick, still an NFL record. The next season he averaged 48.7 yards per punt, which also ranks in the top five of all time. For his career, he has the second highest punting average of all time with 45.1 yards per punt. Sammy Baugh led the NFL in punting from 1940-1943.
DeMao, who speaks to Baugh at least twice a week, said he was at a clinic in Denver with Baugh many years ago when he saw something that even today he has a hard time believing.
“He put four guys 50 yards down the field, standing next to each other but several yards apart," Al DeMao said. "He then made four kicks - bing, bing, bing, bing - that they caught without ever having to move a step. I played nine years in Washington and enjoyed every moment, mostly because I was in the presence of Sammy Baugh. The greatest.” (3)
Baugh Wins Triple Crown
In 1943, Baugh won the “triple crown” in an odd way. He led the league in passing, interceptions and punting. In one game, he threw four touchdown passes and intercepted four. He threw six touchdowns in a game - twice - and had an 85-yard punt. It was a season for the ages. He led the league in passing with 133 completions for 1754 yards and 23 touchdowns. He led the league in punting with 50 punts for a 45.9 average and led in interceptions, playing defense with 11 interceptions returned for 112 yards. (1)
“It's pretty safe that all the things he did will never be done again,” said Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (1)
Sammy Baugh's Record Day
In 1947 on what was “Sammy Baugh Day,” Slingin Sammy would have the best game of his career. The Redskins were playing against the eventual world champion Chicago Cardinals. On that day, Baugh threw for 355 yards and six touchdown passes. Baugh more than lived up to the name of the day.
Sammy Baugh’s Career
Sammy Baugh may have been the Greatest Football Player in NFL History! He was a great quarterback, great defensive back, and the best punter of all-time. Not many players could have made the Hall of Fame for each position they played, but Baugh could have. “There's nobody any better than Sam Baugh was in pro football,” said Don Maynard, a Hall of Fame receiver. “When I see somebody picking the greatest player around, to me, if they didn't go both ways, they don't really deserve to be nominated. I always ask, 'Well, how'd he do on defense? How was his punting?’” (1)
“I still think he's the greatest quarterback who ever lived, college or pro,” says acclaimed sportswriter Dan Jenkins. (2)
For his Hall of Fame Career, Sammy Baugh completed 1693 of 2995 passes for 21886 yards, threw 187 touchdowns and 203 interceptions. He added 325 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns. He also intercepted 31 passes on defense.
By A. Goodin, 20Yardline.com
Sammy Baugh Biography Sources:
(1) Hall-of-Famer Recalls Life on the Field; Versatile Career: In 1943, Sammy Baugh Led League in Passing, Punting and Interceptions (2002, August 18) Telegraph – Herald (Dubuque)
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