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April 1, 1964: Sonny Becomes a Redskin

Washington Taylor beat Panthers

Jim Gehman

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Sonny’s “Little Added Incentive”

From 1957 to 1963, Sonny Jurgensen would travel to Washington once a year as a member of the division-rival Eagles. The final five trips back to Philadelphia were with a victory.

Those trips, however, became reversed for the veteran quarterback after the Eagles hired Washington’s former head coach, Joe Kuharich, in 1964. That’s when the last thing Jurgensen thought would occur actually did. He was traded to Washington for fellow quarterback Norm Snead.

“I didn’t know why [I was traded] because Joe Kuharich came there, and we had a nice meeting for a couple hours talking about what we were going to do,” said Jurgensen, who had been Philadelphia’s starter the previous three seasons and owned the team record with 32 touchdown passes in 1961. “I think it was in ’63, I had seven ends that broke arms, so I had no receivers to throw to. We’d won [the NFL championship] in ’60 and had gone downhill. In ’61 we had a good year, but in ’62 and ’63 we had all kinds of problems. And the problems were physical problems. So the team got old, and we slipped.

“I thought that [Kuharich and I] had a very good meeting, and I went to lunch two or three blocks from the Eagles’ office, and somebody came in and said, 'Hey! I see they just traded you to Washington.’ I said, 'Aw, don’t tell me that. I just left the coach an hour ago.’ And he said, 'No, I’m not kidding you, Sonny. They just traded you to the Washington Redskins for Norm Snead.’ I said, 'Yeah, I know you’re kidding. It’s April Fools Day.’ And it was. I didn’t believe him. And it was true!”

It is also true that the Jurgensen-led Redskins didn’t enjoy too many sunny days as the 1964 season got underway. They lost their first four games, albeit three were by less than a touchdown. But when they hosted the 2-2 Eagles on October 11, Jurgensen played as if Washington hadn’t lost a game. He threw four touchdown passes as the Redskins popped Philadelphia, 35-20.

“I had given everything I could do, and I think they saw fit to trade us. But I know when I went back to play against them it made a little added incentive,” Jurgensen said. “It was a good thing in the long run, but when it happens to you, you’re shocked.”

The Redskins earned a 21-10 victory when the teams met again on November 1 in Philadelphia. It was the first time they had sweep the series since 1958

Excerpt from “Then Gibbs Said to Riggins…”
 

Jimbo

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love any Sonny story!
That makes two of us! Sonny was my favorite Redskins player just as I was getting into football on a grand scale. I can remember watching the Sonny Jurgensen Show when I was 10 or 11. Naturally, our car had the I Like Sonny bumper sticker. ;)
 

Ax

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Yeah, the redhead got me started as a football fan in the mid 60's. Once Mr. Brown showed up in 69, the dye was cast.

The Burgundy and Gold, became an Obsession. ;)
 

fansince62

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ditto on all of the above. no disrespect to Mr Kilmer, but my lone sadness in this regard is that Sonny's achilles kept him out of the Superbowl.

the 60s and 70s - man o man.....those were the peak years for the Skins/Boys rivalry. Gibbs carried it on, but it was Sonny and then George who turned it white hot.
 

scottb

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I remember the Snead for Sonny trade and was quite excited. Hmmmmm.....it seems a lot of us fans here now qualify for the "over the hill gang" moniker :)
 

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