There is a good chance that most of you who read Bleeding Green Nation have never seen former Eagles and Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen work his magic on the field. There is a much better chance, however, that you've heard of the impact he has made on the league.
Now, 28 years after his induction into the Hall of Fame, Jurgensen is being honored again. The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance have teamed up to present the "Hometown Hall of Famers" program, which honors former NFL greats and the towns that gave them their starts. Joining a list of past honorees that include Howie Long and Joe Namath, Jurgensen will be honored at his old high school - New Hanover High - in Wilmington, NC tomorrow morning at 10:00.
In an interview this morning with Bleeding Green Nation, Jurgensen reflected on the "fond memories" of his days in Wilmington, saying that, "It means a lot to the Hall of Famers to go back into your hometown."
Despite his abrupt Donovan McNabb-esque trade from the Eagles to the Redskins in 1964, Jurgensen appears to bear no ill will towards his former team, recalling one of his fondest memories as, "winning it in 1960, winning the championship, of course!"
"I enjoyed it when I played [in Philadelphia]," said Jurgensen, "It was my first introduction to professional football...When you get drafted in that era, I don't think it was an entitlement. Me, sometimes I think kids think it's an entitlement for them to play professional football."
"It was an honor," he stressed," a privilege for us to have that opportunity."
Back in 2010, when the Eagles completed a blockbuster deal that sent McNabb to the Redskins in exchange for second and fourth round draft picks, many drew lines of comparison between that deal and the one that sent Jurgensen to Washington over 46 years ago. When Jurgensen learned of McNabb's trade, he was quoted as saying, "these people never learn."
When asked if he still stands by his statement, the Hall of Famer replied, "There are a lot of reasons it didn't work out with Donovan here. Donovan's been struggling now in Minnesota, but we have a young offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan. It's very difficult for a young offensive coordinator to teach an old quarterback....You're teaching an old dog new tricks.
"You always try to get the right pick, but it did not work out. It wasn't a good fit for Donovan and the Redskins and, what do you do? You move on."
Turning his thoughts to the current Eagles squad, the legendary quarterback, now an analyst for Redskins Radio, called them a "desperate" team.
"A desperate team is very dangerous," Jurgensen said, "and they were. They came to play, they were prepared."
"When you look at that Philadelphia Eagles squad," he continued, "a lot of teams have stars...go-to guys that are going to make the plays in a crunch situation. Well, the Eagles have four guys. They have four guys! I mean, you just pick one, whatever you want to pick, and that is very unusual. They have a talent base at the skill positions.
"[The Eagles] ran into some tough luck. A lot of things are going on and they're making adjustments and everything, but they seem to be back on track now. This whole thing's a marathon. You have to go through 16 games, so it's a long way to go. You're going to have ups and downs...They just have to play and they have a great coach, so they'll figure it out. They figured it out yesterday against the Redskins."
So, what was the secret to the Eagles' success on Sunday afternoon? According to Jurgensen, it was the fact that, "They didn't turn the ball over, is what they didn't do. The Redskins did. You win that battle, you're going to win most of your games. It's not rocket science."
When asked if he agreed with Mike Shanahan's decision to bench Rex Grossman after four interceptions, Jurgensen replied, "Of course. You gotta have somebody out there that's executing the offense and doing the job. You can't have a guy that's giving the ball back to the other team, especially one with that much firepower."
As the interview drew to a close, a humble Jurgensen praised the the Pro Football Hall of Fame's newest program, saying that, "this is a great thing that [they're] doing in honoring the old guys that played in the game. We like to think that we played in a great era. It was a players game in those days. It's a coaches game now, so I liked the era that I played in...We didn't make any money, but we had a good time."