Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh, the ultimate three-way threat who revolutionized the use of the forward pass as a quarterback for the Washington Redskins, died last night. He was 94.
Baugh, who had numerous health issues, died at Fisher County Hospital in Rotan, son David Baugh said.
David Baugh said his father had battled Alzheimer's and dementia for several years. He had been ill recently with kidney problems, low blood pressure and double pneumonia.
"It wasn't the same Sam we all knew," his son told the Associated Press. "He just finally wore out."
Sammy Baugh was the last surviving member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural class.
After starring at Texas Christian, "Slingin' Sammy" Baugh played with the Redskins from 1937 to 1952.
"Sammy Baugh embodied all we aspire to at the Washington Redskins," team owner Dan Snyder said. "He was a competitor in everything he did and a winner. He was one of the greatest to ever play the game of football, and one of the greatest the Redskins ever had. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Although he was noted for his passing, Baugh was one of the best all-around players of his day. One season he led the league in passing, defensive interceptions and punting. In one game, he threw four touchdown passes and intercepted four passes. He threw for sixtouchdowns in a game - twice - and kicked an 85-yard punt.
"There's nobody any better than Sam Baugh was in pro football," Don Maynard, a fellow West Texas Hall of Famer who played for Baugh, said in a 2002 interview. "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."
When Baugh entered the NFL, the forward pass was so rare that it was unveiled mostly in desperate situations. But Baugh passed anytime.
As a rookie in 1937, Baugh completed a record 81passes (about seven a game) and led the league with 1,127 yards. Only six passers averaged three completions a game that year. He went on to lead the NFL in passing six times.
Baugh still holds Redskins records for career touchdown passes (187) and completion percentage in a season (70.3). His 31 interceptions on defense are third on the team's career list. He still owns the league mark for single-season punting average (51.4).
Baugh guided the Redskins to five title games and two championships, playing his entire career without a face mask. His No. 33 is the only jersey Washington has retired.
Baugh's reputation blossomed as a star high school football, baseball and basketball player in Sweetwater. It grew during his college days at TCU.
It was there that he picked up the nickname "Slingin' Sammy" - for the rockets he fired to first base as a shortstop and third baseman.
As an All-America football player, he led TCU to a 29-7-3 mark, including Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl victories. He masterfully executed an early ancestor of the West Coast offense, and he credits Horned Frogs coach Dutch Meyer with his NFL success.
"I was a little ahead of a lot of football players in those days because of Dutch," he said.
Baugh was known to make blunt, witty remarks.
After the Redskins' 73-0 loss to the Chicago Bears in the 1940 championship game, a writer asked if the outcome would have been different had an end not dropped an early touchdown pass.
"Yeah," drawled Baugh. "It would have been 73-7."
Baugh was known for his reclusiveness.
After his NFL career, Baugh retreated to his 7,600-acre West Texas ranch 95 miles southeast of Lubbock.
He always enjoyed football season.
"I'll watch it all ... day long," Baugh said in 2002. "I like the football they play. They got bigger boys, and they've also got these ... speed merchants that we didn't have in those days. I'd love to be quarterback this day and time."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times