by JJ Cooper
They don't make 'em like Sammy Baugh any more, but then, they never made 'em like Sammy Baugh.
The final living member of the inaugural class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame passed away Wednesday at the age of 94. Baugh played for the Redskins from 1937 to 1952.
In his prime, Baugh was the best quarterback, defensive back and punter in the NFL. At a time when the average NFL quarterback was better at running the ball then dropping back to pass, Baugh helped lead the way to the more passing-oriented game of the 1950s. When Baugh came into the league, the average quarterback was a blocking back on a team that relied on multiple ball carriers and had halfbacks who threw as many passes as the quarterback. By the time Baugh retired, the Wing T had been junked for the T-formation and the quarterback was serving in the role that the average modern-day fan would recognize.
As a punter, his 51.4 yard per punt average in 1940 is still the best in NFL history and his 45.1 yard career average is still the second best mark in NFL history. And as a defensive back, he led the league with 11 interceptions in 1943. He was such an amazing athlete that wherever the Redskins put him, he excelled.
Baugh had battled Alzheimer's in recent years, but thanks to NFL Films, Baugh's memories and thoughts on the early days of the NFL have been recorded for posterity.