The greatest Washington Redskin of all time played years and years before I was born.
I remember when I was a kid growing up in DC, I went to a private school in suburban Maryland, run by two elderly southern ladies. It was a small school. A very small school, actually, and most of the kids were fairly well off. I was not. We lived in the hood. And since there were no buses for this little school, I was driven to school by Mrs. McAmis, one of those elderly southern ladies.
She was a huge Redskins fan, one of the biggest I’d ever met. She could cite the stats of current and past Redskins players right off the top of her head. This was 1978, so Billy Kilmer was still the quarterback of the Redskins, and George Allen was the coach; it was still a few years before the glory years of the first Joe Gibbs era. Every day I’d ride to school with Mrs. McAmis and a couple of other inner city kids she picked up, and most days we’d talk Redskins football.
She loved Billy Kilmer, and she’d really loved Sonny Jurgensen, and she wasn’t too keen on this new Theismann kid. But her greatest love was a guy I’d never heard of, a guy named Slingin’ Sammy Baugh. Number 33. She watched every game he ever played — most of them in person at old Griffith Stadium. She would get giggly just talking about him. She talked about one game when he threw a touchdown pass, ran an interception back for a touchdown, and then punted the ball, ran downfield to make the tackle, stripped the ball, and ran *that* in for a touchdown. I always thought she was just making this stuff up.
Most people have still never even heard of Sammy Baugh, but his name is liberally sprinkled through the NFL record books, and always will be.
All-time NFL punting leader, single season? Sammy Baugh, with a 51.4 yard average.
Most seasons leading the NFL in punting average? Sammy Baugh, with four.
All-time NFL leader in passing titles? Sammy Baugh, with six.
Most interceptions in a single game in NFL history? Sammy Baugh, tied for first, with four.
He was the first, last, and only man in NFL history to lead the league in passing, punting, and interceptions in the same year.
Sammy Baugh died Wednesday night. He was 94.
That little school I went to? Gone. I can’t even find it on Google.
I wonder where Mrs. McAmis is now.