Sonny Jurgensen grew up in Wilmington, N.C. While attending New Hanover High School he played football, basketball, and baseball under Coaches Leon Brogden and Jap Davis. Upon graduation, he attended Duke University and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1957.
Jurgensen riddled enemy defenses with picture-perfect bullets for 18 seasons in the National Football League. With Philadelphia for seven seasons and Washington for 11 more, many say Jurgensen was one of the finest pure passers of his time. He found receivers with footballs thrown from assorted angles-overhead, sidearm or even behind his back.
“He could change speeds on the ball like a baseball pitcher-even throw a screwball,” said former teammate Sam Huff. “He was just so wonderful to watch-some quarterbacks could throw a great short pass, some were good with the long ball, but very few could do both-Sonny could.”
In 1969, Vince Lombardi took over the Redskins’ coaching. Lombardi quickly developed a strong admiration for the quarterback. “Jurgensen is a great quarterback,” the coach said without hesitation. “He hangs in there under adverse conditions. He may the best the league has ever seen. He is the best I have ever seen.”
Even at the age of 40 in his final 1974 season, Jurgensen won his third NFL individual passing crown. A five-time Pro Bowl selection, his stats include 2,433 completions for an impressive 32,224 yards and 255 touchdowns.
Jurgensen wore jersey number 9. Although the Washington Redskins do not have an official policy of retiring player numbers, no Redskin since Jurgensen has worn that number in a regular season game.
Jurgensen was elected to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1974, the Duke University Hall of Fame in 1978 and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
After retiring from the Redskins, Jurgensen began another career as a sports broadcaster. He continues to cover the Washington Redskins today.