Sammy Baugh Jersey

This story originally aired on Dec. 16, 2018. This week it appears again as part of our “Sticky Wickets” episode.

Sammy Baugh became one of the first great quarterbacks. But he wanted to be remembered for something else. (AP)

Twenty-three years ago, sports writer Dan Daly flew to Dallas and started driving west on Highway 20 toward a part of Texas called the Big Empty.

He was searching for 81-year-old Sammy Baugh.

It had been decades since Baugh retired from the NFL as the all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns — and he hadn’t been seen outside of Texas in years.

“I’ve got my directions scribbled down on a sheet of paper,” Daly recalls. “And I’m praying to god they’re right. Because some of them sound really, really bizarre, like, ‘Take a left at State Route 580,’ and I’m thinking, ‘What if there’s no sign? What if I just drive forever and end up in Nebraska or something?’ “

Eventually, Daly turned down a dirt driveway. All around him, it was flat as far as the eye could see. The driveway led to a little white house.

“I was surprised how small a place it was,” Daly says. “I knocked on the door. No one came to the door. So I go around to the other side of the house to see if there’s a window I could look in to see if there’s anybody there. And I see this glow behind the drapes. It’s clear that somebody’s watching television. So I knock on the window, and the drapes spread, and there’s this big guy.”

It was Sammy Baugh. He came to the door.

And for the next five hours, the two men talked. Daly recorded the conversation.

Until Daly shared his mini cassettes with me last year, no one else had ever heard the recording.

For most of the five hours, Baugh laughs and tells stories about his time in the NFL — occasionally pausing to comment on the college football game on the TV, and more than occasionally pausing to spit:

“He had this gigantic plastic cup with a handle on it — the kind that you get if you’re buying, like, a Double Gulp,” Daly recalls. “And he used it as a spittoon because he was a tobacco chewer. And every minute or so he’d lean over and grab the handle and spit into the cup.”

And then there was Baugh’s language — profane, but not unfriendly.

“He didn’t have that social filter that many of us have,” Daly says. “It tells you that he probably wasn’t used to being interviewed all that much. That was part of what was going through my mind — just how isolated he was.”

Sammy Baugh — the greatest quarterback of his generation; the guy who helped make the NFL the forward pass-obsessed league that it is today — had become a reclusive cowboy.
From Third Baseman To NFL Prospect

Baugh grew up in a small Texas town. He was far more interested in playing sports than riding horses. He didn’t have anything to do with ranching.
Baugh was a decent high school football player, but his No. 1 sport was baseball. He played third base and had a great arm.

In 1933, Baugh joined the baseball and football teams at Texas Christian University. He expected to play third base and punt for the football team. He’d always been good at that.

Most college teams from the East and Midwest were still avoiding the forward pass, but Dutch Meyer — the football and baseball coach at TCU — loved it.

“Hell, we could throw the ball any time we wanted to,” Baugh told Daly. “And Dutch told us, ‘If you’ve got a reason for doing it, I’ll never second guess you.’ “

Soon Meyer figured out that his third baseman with the strong arm would actually make a darn good passer.

Darrell Green Jersey

The Redskins have a numbers problem – again.

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Just a few weeks after debating whether Landon Collins should wear the late Sean Taylor’s No. 21, Joe Theismann says it’s fine for rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins to don No. 7.

Stop the madness – retire a few numbers and then move on. This piecemeal way of revisiting numbers of legendary players just looks bad.

Currently, Sammy Baugh’s No. 33 is the only number officially retired. Sonny Jurgensen’s No. 9, Darrell Green’s 28, Charley Taylor’s 42, Larry Brown’s 43, John Riggins’ 44, Bobby Mitchell’s 49, Dave Butz’s 65 and Art Monk’s 81, along with Theismann and Taylor, haven’t been used since they left.
The Redskins are all about marketing the past since the post-Super-Bowl era has largely stunk. Many older fans who adored those legends are gone and the young people are ambivalent. So, many people don’t see what’s wrong with Haskins wearing Theismann’s number.

But if you care about this franchise, you care about numbers. Do you really want to see somebody wearing Riggo’s number stinking up the joint? Or another passer failing as No. 9? No, no and hell no.

There’s a way out – retire the numbers of Jurgensen, Green, Taylor, Riggins, Mitchell and Monk. They’re all hall of famers and largely different positions so the potential pool isn’t really narrowed. Do it this fall at the “homecoming” game. Sell the jerseys like crazy. Wave the symbolic burgundy flag of the franchise.

Brown and Butz are easier to recycle just as Mark Moseley’s No. 3 was years ago. They were all very good players whom the equipment manager liked so much he refused to give out the numbers. But, this is about compromise so they’re sacrificed for now. Maybe someday there can be a second round of number retirements.
But that leaves Theismann as a hard tweener of a decision. Theismann’s 84 victories are the most by a Redskins quarterback. He won a Super Bowl and played in a second, something no other Washington passer has done. For overall durability and success, Washington has never truly found his long-term successor.

Theismann is just a notch under the hall-of-fame line. But, just a notch. He was never given due respect because Billy Kilmer and Jurgensen poisoned fans against the then-young reserve who wanted their job and dared to say so. It’s time to stop this nonsense and embrace Theismann as the great player he was for the Redskins and retire his number, too.
Now Theismann said it was OK with him for Haskins to wear No. 7. But, Theismann doesn’t want to be the bad guy once more so I suspect he’s doing so grudgingly no matter what’s his public position.

Owner Dan Snyder doesn’t get many chances to be the good guy. This is a golden opportunity for great PR and jersey sales. It’s a win-win.

And really, how many win-wins have the Redskins enjoyed lately?

Clinton Portis Jersey

Former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis believes the team should wait on taking a quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Clinton Portis


“Because you have Case (Keenum) and Colt (McCoy), I don’t think you’re going out to get a quarterback that’s going to play day one. Because Case is probably going to be the quarterback, you have a chance to take Will Grier.

Because if you get another guy, if you get Daniel Jones or if you get a guy in the first round, then all of a sudden you’re talking about a battle in training camp, and the moment Case Keenum has a bad game, it’s like, ‘Let’s bench him and play our quarterback.’

So you’re in a tough situation. So why not just go and get a guy who you can develop Will Grier or wait. I think some more quarterbacks are gonna come available in this draft as well. I think the only game-changing quarterback is Kyler Murray.”

Former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis believes the team should wait on taking a quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Only Player Screwed Harder Than Isaiah Thomas
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Portis discussed the Redskins’ quarterback situation with NBC Sports Washington (via 247Sports.com’s Jordan Dajani) on April 25.

“Because you have Case (Keenum) and Colt (McCoy), I don’t think you’re going out to get a quarterback that’s going to play day one. Because Case is probably going to be the quarterback, you have a chance to take Will Grier.

Because if you get another guy, if you get Daniel Jones or if you get a guy in the first round, then all of a sudden you’re talking about a battle in training camp, and the moment Case Keenum has a bad game, it’s like, ‘Let’s bench him and play our quarterback.’

So you’re in a tough situation. So why not just go and get a guy who you can develop Will Grier or wait. I think some more quarterbacks are gonna come available in this draft as well. I think the only game-changing quarterback is Kyler Murray.”

Long story short, Portis believes the Redskins shouldn’t be gung-ho on a quarterback with the 15th overall pick. A great signal caller will eventually fall into their lap as the draft wears on.

It’s evident Washington needs to shore up its quarterback situation. The Redskins lost Alex Smith to a season-ending broken leg injury last December. There’s a good chance he’ll sit out the entire 2019 NFL season.

The bigger question looms: will he return to Washington? Smith will be 36 years old when he takes the field next season. Neither Keenum or McCoy is the long-term solution at quarterback. Drafting a stud quarterback this season makes sense for the Redskins.

It’s best if they let the chips fall where they may, per Clinton Portis.

Earnest Byner Jersey

John Dorsey is trying to awaken the sleeping giant that is the Cleveland Browns, and in the process, Dorsey and Freddie Kitchens are bringing some of the giants of yesteryear back to speak to the team.

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On Thursday night, the eve of rookie camp, Kitchens and Dorsey invited former Browns receiver Webster Slaughter, running backs Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner, quarterback Bernie Kosar, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown and others to have dinner with the rookies and address them. Slaughter even stuck around to watch practice yesterday.
All were part of the Browns’ glory years of championships or AFC title games.

“We had a lot of those guys around,’’ Kitchens said. “John and I wanted them to see what it was to be a Cleveland Brown and what it meant to the city and take it from experience that somebody had already had. I think it went really well.”

It never gets old for Kitchens, a Browns fan growing up, to listen to Jim Brown speak.

“I cherish that time around him because you know what he went through in life and in the game of football,’’ he said. “Of course, what he means to the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Browns organization speaks for itself. He’s seen a lot in his time. If you think about 83 years, that covers a lot of history in the country good and bad. It is just good to have a resource like that to lean on, talk to and just to be around and know what he has went there.”

The rookies aren’t the only ones getting a Browns history lesson.

“We even did it with the veterans,’’ Kitchens said. “Our first team meeting, we showed them a video of what the Browns meant to the city and what the Browns mean to the NFL in general and some of the good times that Cleveland has had in the past.

“When you talk about three AFC Championships in the 80s, just knowing what those guys went through to get there, hopefully, our guys can feed off of that some. I know it doesn’t hurt to be able to communicate with those guys to show them what could happen and the potential of happening.”

Sean Taylor Jersey

Cleveland Browns rookie safety Sheldrick Redwine trained with Sean Taylor’s father and has tried to follow in the late safety’s footsteps as a player.

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Sheldrick Redwine was selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft but he could end up having a big impact as a rookie for the Cleveland Browns. Currently, the Browns will start Damarious Randall at free safety and Morgan Burnett at strong.

While both are talented, Randall has never played a full 16 games in a season and Burnett hasn’t done so since 2012 while still with the Green Bay Packers. That means even though the starters are set, there will be plenty of opportunities to get on the field a lot and Redwine will likely only have Eric Murray to beat out as the primary backup.

But what kind of player will hit the field for the Browns when Redwine gets his chance? According to him, he hopes he can be similar to his favorite player, former Miami Hurricane and Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor.
Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot recently wrote about the connection Redwine has to the late safety who was murdered in his own home back in 2007. In there, she talks about how Redwine’s mother worked with Taylor’s mom and got him an autograph as a kid — which he still has.

Redwine remembers when Taylor passed and has dedicated himself to honoring the safties memory, even emulating things he did on the field.

“I taped my fingers and stuff going out to practice just trying to be like him a little bit,’’ Redwine said via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “You say that name at Miami, everybody knows who you’re talking about. Just seeing how he played, he played the game reckless, but he played it between the snaps also. He (had) an aggressive nature. I feel like I have that about myself, too.’’

In addition to trying to prepare and play aggressive like Taylor, Cleveland’s fourth-round pick has even trained under Pete Taylor, Sean’s father. A coach in South Florida, Pete Taylor called it “therapy” to be able to work with young men and watch them grow.

Jimmy Moreland Jersey

James Madison’s Jimmy Moreland was selected in the seventh round of the NFL draft by the Redskins. He visited with Wes McElroy this week to discuss getting the phone call, how to return an interception and why he’s a “dog.”

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Question: What’s it like trying to handle the emotions watching the NFL draft entering the last round, and your name still hasn’t been called?

Answer: You know, once you get to the seventh round you’re basically just nervous thinking your name won’t get called and other teams start hitting you up just letting you know if you don’t get drafted that you can come to their minicamps. The nerves were just being around my family who were telling me everything’s OK. I was just focused on the next step. I wasn’t really worried about my name being called because I know what I’m capable of doing. All I need is a shot and a chance at a minicamp.

Question: You did get the call, so has it hit you yet that you are getting a chance to make an NFL roster?

Answer: I think it hit me once I got off the phone, but it really hasn’t hit me yet. It’ll hit me once I get up there and start practicing. When I got the call, I was in the shower [laughing]. It’s crazy because my Auntie told me she had a dream that I was in the shower when I got the call. So when that happened it was a surreal moment. Once I got downstairs, I saw my family celebrating and crying. Once I got there, it hit me.

Question: Afterward on the teleconference with reporters, someone asked you how you had 18 career interceptions to which you answered “because I’m a dog.” Where did that answer come from?

Answer: Ha! I don’t know it was a quick little moment. I was so hyped. But you know that moment, I was built into this, coming from (where I came from) a few barely make it out and that turned me into the person I am today. I guess that line comes from that.

Question: You returned five career interceptions for touchdowns. How would were you so successful taking them back for a score?

Answer: In high school, I played every position: quarterback, receiver, really every position besides O-line and D-line, so I always had that vision of the field to see how players were set up.

Once you get a pick, it’s easy because most of the people don’t think you’ll get an interception. Then most of the people are reacting off you getting an interception, so basically once you get one and return it, the only think you have to get past is the linemen and quarterback.

Our defensive coordinator [at JMU] always told us once somebody gets an interception to block the intended receiver and quarterback because I can out run any lineman. So, that’s where I get my returner skills from.

Question: Was there a player you watched or studied?

Answer: The person I really like to watch a lot is Patrick Peterson. His return skills and ability, once he gets the ball in his hands he can make something with it.

Question: You mentioned where you grew up and getting out. Also, many FCS guys feel a chip on their shoulder or are driven that many big schools overlooked them. I’d imagine you are taking that same underdog mentality in trying to make the Redskins’ roster?
Answer: You know where I came from; I had a lot of [MAC] schools [look at me]. I went on an early visit to Toledo. Some said I was too small. Lots of big schools took their offers back, but James Madison found me and I was able to go there and have a great career.

Question: What’s the best compliment you got during the draft process?

Answer: My ability to return and ball-hawk and get turnovers to get our defense off the field. My defensive coordinator at JMU, Bob Trott, he always taught us that long drives and lot of plays on defense will wear defenses down, so the best way to get a defense off the field and to get the momentum back to our offense is a big thing for me.

Question: What was the knock against you where you want to prove people wrong in the NFL?

Answer: The negativity has always been there that I’m small. Which I don’t see why, because it’s about ability. If I was able to make plays in college and guard top end receivers, I don’t know what size is.

Once I get in the league and make plays all that will go out the window.

Kelvin Harmon Jersey

The Redskins got a receiver in Round 6 that everyone is talking about.

In the months leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft, it was deemed almost a certainty that the Washington Redskins would select one wide receiver in the first three rounds, and an even greater certainty that the team would draft more than one receiver, in order to increase their chances of success at the position.

By the conclusion of the NFL Draft, these assumptions were proven true. The Redskins drafted Ohio State receiver Terry McLaurin in Round 3, and they drafted North Carolina State receiver Kelvin Harmon in Round 6.

The McLaurin pick attracted a good amount of excitement out of the gate; McLaurin has excellent quickness and mental polish, and he has immediate chemistry with former Ohio State quarterback and newly-acquired Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins. All that said, the new Redskins receiver getting the most hype isn’t McLaurin. It’s the sixth-rounder. Kelvin Harmon.
In my draft grade for the Redskins, I gave the team an A+ for selecting Harmon in Round 6, and in this post, you’ll get a sense of why that’s the case. Harmon dropped to Round 6 for issues surrounding his speed and athleticism, but while he’s lacking in certain respects, he has the skill set to take on a premier role at the next level.

Cole Holcomb Jersey

UNC Football linebacker Cole Holcomb was selected in the 2019 NFL Draft as he heads to Washington in the fifth round

The North Carolina Tar Heels had to wait until Day 3 and the end of the fifth round to see their first player selected in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Former UNC linebacker Cole Holcomb was the last pick of the fifth round on Saturday, being selected by the Washington Redskins at No. 173 overall. Holcomb was the 35th player selected in the fifth round on Saturday.
The 6-foot-1, 231-pound linebacker was a tackling machine for the Tar Heels in his career in Chapel Hill. He racked up a career-high 115 in 2016, then followed it up with seasons of 93 and 104 as a junior and senior.

Holcomb wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine as UNC sent just two players total. But he does hear his name called and now has a home in the NFL.

Per Pro Football Focus, Holcomb had the third-highest coverage rate among eligible Atlantic Coast Conference linebackers in this draft. His 76.6 was third only to Kielan Whitner and Germaine Pratt.
Holcomb is expected to compete for a backup job right away with the Redskins and will have the first chance to impress during rookie minicamps next week. From there, he will participate in Offseason Activities and then Training Camp to work into the rotation.
The linebacker is the only UNC player that has been taken so far in the draft with just two rounds to go. Other UNC prospects include Anthony Ratliff-Williams, William Sweet and Malik Carney.
For more on UNC Football and the NFL Draft, please check back with Keeping It Heel.

Ross Pierschbacher Jersey

Redskins Select Center Ross Pierschbacher.

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Courtesy of a fifth-round pick on Saturday, the Washington Redskins added another player to compete for the job of starting left guard.

With the 153rd selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, the organization drafted Alabama offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher, who made 42-career starts at left guard before transitioning to center before his senior campaign in 2018. He went on to become an All-American at his new position and finished as a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation’s top center. His 57-career starts, meanwhile, are the most for an Alabama position player in school history.

Twenty-two picks before selecting Pierschbacher, the Redskins initially addressed their need for offensive line depth by using a fourth-round pick on Indiana guard Wes Martin.

The organization has used the offseason in an attempt to find a capable starter opposite right guard Brandon Scherff, a two-time Pro Bowler. Former first-round pick Ereck Flowers joined the team via free agency, and multiple people within the organization said the former New York Giants tackle would have a chance to play inside. Adding Martin and Pierschbacher will only fuel more competition at the position.

Wes Martin Jersey

With the No. 131 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins selected offensive guard Wes Martin out of Indiana. While he may not be as highly-touted as players like Dwayne Haskins and Montez Sweat were, Martin may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to the Redskins’ offensive front.

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When Martin was drafted, he tweeted out that he couldn’t wait to grab his “lunch pail” and get on the “worksite.” While that may just be a metaphor to some people, Martin means it very literally.

He was raised a farm boy in West Milton, Ohio — not far from Dayton. But just far enough north to be out in the country. His family was originally from Centerville, but Martin’s mother wanted to raise her sons, as she told IndyStar, “in a smaller town.”

Martin was a talented third baseman, but his passion was football. The high school he was districted to attend didn’t have football, so he enrolled at Milton-Union. As he started to build himself into a local star on the gridiron, he also maintained a strong work ethic off of the field.

Longennecker’s Jersey Dairy Farm is where Martin spent a lot of his time. From baling hay and moving manure, Martin always did what was asked of him.

“We bale a lot of straw. It’s physical work. It’s small, square bales. It’s hot,” Marty Black, who helped run the farm, told IndyStar. “He was always up to the task. The guys always looked up to him. In a team environment, Wes was the one who took care of everybody.”

He quickly became Mr. Dependable.
“It was always ‘Big Wes,’” Black said. “That’s all you had to say: ‘Big Wes will be here.’

Those long shifts instilled the kind of work ethic, drive and integrity that have carried Martin to the NFL. There’s no denying he also got a workout away from the weight room, even though he spent plenty of time there as well.

“You don’t come across many football players who love the weight room as much as Wes does,” said Mark Lane, Martin’s coach during his senior high school season. “He’s probably the biggest kid ever to come out of Milton(-Union).”

Martin got the attention of Indiana University, and even earned a scholarship offer. The Hoosiers found themselves a gem in the farm boy from West Milton, and he went on to become just one of four Indiana players in program history to appear in 50 games.

Heading into his senior season, Martin landed on Bruce Feldman’s annual “College Football Freaks List.” With a bench press of 525 pounds, Feldman suggested Martin might be the strongest player in the Big Ten.

“Wes is very, very powerful. His power index and all those things, he’s very strong, he’s very explosive, and when he gets his hands on people, he controls people,” said offensive line coach Darren Hiller. “He’s really dominant from a strength standpoint.”
With the undeniable mark “The Hogs” left on the Redskins’ franchise in the 1980’s, Martin seems like the perfect candidate to bring back the glory days of Washington’s offensive line. He’s got the work ethic and the strength to do so.