Friday, November 21: Sitting in Sonny’s Office

sonnycouch

When you walk into Redskins Park, you are (sensibly enough) looking directly at the reception desk. Beyond the reception desk are the Super Bowl trophies, and beyond that are the stairs down to the locker room, practice fields, and so on. The far wall beyond that is a glass window looking in on the Redskins.com TV studio, where Redskins Nation and Redskins Gameday and the eleventy million other shows are filmed and edited.

In front of that window, with a view of the lobby, the trophies, and everyone who walks into the facility, are two black couches. If you come in on a Monday or Friday, the right-hand couch is occupied by Sonny Jurgensen. If you’re in at the right time on any other day, the couches are occupied by Fred Smoot, Carlos Rogers, and a rotating assortment of other guys, studying their playbooks, jawing at each other, occasionally avoiding the media, and just generally hanging out.

Then a plaque went up over the right-hand couch:

sonnyplaque

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Happy Birthday to Sonny Jurgensen

My choice for the best Redskin of all time turns 74 today. Happy birthday to the Hall of Famer.

Darrell Green: Greatest Redskin Ever (According to 14,101 People)

The results are in on ESPN SportsNation’s “Franchise Players” poll, which purports to determine the “best of all time for every NFL team.” The winner for the Redskins is Darrell Green, although not by a particularly overwhelming majority: of 47,481 votes cast, Darrell has 29.7% of them, the lowest percentage of any team’s winner.

By contrast, Brett Favre takes a 73.2% of 102,801 votes in Green Bay, and Dan Marino takes 90.4% of the 47,233 votes cast about Miami, and Barry Sanders earns a whopping 94.6% of the Lions vote. Even Bobby Hebert got a solid 44% of the Saints’ 65,366 votes (which I assume has driven Archie Manning into some sort of berzerker rage).

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that the Redskins don’t actually have a single face of the franchise. Cold Hard Football Facts calls Sammy Baugh the face of the franchise. USA Today called Clinton Portis the face of the team (although they were clearly talking about the team at the time of writing, not all time). ExtremeSkins tackled the topic in 2006, with no conclusive results — most people suggested Joe Gibbs, who wasn’t eligible on the ESPN poll — and TheWarpath.net had pretty much the same outcome in 2007.

For me, after being around the team for the last month or so, my opinion has changed. At the time of the voting in the ESPN poll, I believe I voted for Art Monk, one of my favorite players I’ve ever seen. Now, though, I think I’d have to go with Sonny Jurgensen — one of the best pure passers alive when he was a player, and he’s also gone on to be something a voice of the team on radio and TV. I remember watching him co-host Redskins Sidelines as a kid, and I’ve listened to him on the radio broadcasts all my life. And watching him interact with the team’s rookies at the Hall of Fame cemented my agreement with Sonny’s 3.1% of the ESPN voters. That would make me feel old, I suspect, but their commenters are running heavily in favor of Sammy Baugh, so that helps a bit.

Sonny Jurgensen on Rookies and the Hall

I had to leave the group of rookies and legends touring the Hall of Fame on Saturday to get into my seat for the enshrinement ceremony, which meant that I didn’t have a chance to follow up with anyone involved. Luckily, I was able to catch up with Hall of Fame QB Sonny Jurgensen today while he was waiting to do some work for Redskins Radio and ask him what he had thought.

Sonny Jurgensen looks at an exhibit honoring him in the Hall of Fame.

Sonny Jurgensen looks at an exhibit honoring him in the Hall of Fame.

What did you think about it, watching the rookies as they went through the Hall?

I thought it was a good experience for them, and I think the entire team should do it. I think it would benefit everyone, especially from what the commissioner said about Michael Irvin’s comments, that if he had done that earlier, he would’ve been a different person and a different player. I think to bring them back, to have an appreciation for the history of the game, is important.

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