Washington Redskins legends Sonny Jurgensen and Bobby Mitchell exploded in the 1960. They were touted last week by Cold, Hard Football Facts as two of a group of 16 players who revolutionized pro-football offenses in the dawn of the Super Bowl era in the 1960s.
NFL FILMS will celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the American Football League this season. The old AFL is remembered for innovative football offenses. Bunk, says CHFF in their story Don't Drink The AFL Kool-Aid.
"The Kool-Aid drinkers simply miscast history, forgetting that the 1960s was a decade of explosive and record-setting offensive performances in the NFL at every position, from quarterbacks to tight ends to kick returners. Many, if not most, of the greatest offensive performances of the decade came out of the NFL, not the AFL."
For evidence, CHFF cites NFL icons of the 1960s, starting with Cleveland running back Jim Brown. No list of the 'Sixties would be complete without Jimmy Brown.
In comparing Jurgensen to the New York Jets Joe Namath, CHFF says:
"Jurgensen certainly did a better job finding the end zone and was far more efficient than the AFL's most famous quarterback. Jurgensen led the NFL in TD passes in 1961 (32), tying the league record at the time, and topped both leagues in 1967 (31). Namath, for his part, never led the AFL in touchdown passes and never threw more than 26 TDs in a single season (1967)." [NOTE: Jurgensen played for Philadelphia in 1961.]
CHFF points out that Jurgy was the highest rated passer in football history in the years before the rules changed in 1978 to favor offenses.
Jurgensen was successful because he was throwing to the likes of Bobby Mitchell, traded to the Redskins in 1961 when the team yielded to societal and federal pressure to integrate.
Mitchell entered the NFL with Cleveland where he began his career in 1958 as Jim Brown's running mate, but he blossomed as the flanker for the Washington Redskins. CHFF cites Mitchell's 99 yard scoring play on a pass from Redskin Quarterback George Izo 1963 against his old teammates, the Browns.
Not that it helped much. Jim Brown later scored on an 80 yard running play to seal Cleveland's easy 37-14 win over Washington.
But the point was made. Mitchell's play was the first 99 yard scoring play in 24 years. Ironically, it was Washington's Andy Farkas who turned the trick in 1939 on a pass from Sammy Baugh.
Later in the decade, NFL players Pat Studstill (Lions) and Gerry Allen (Redskins) would score 99 yard pass plays.
CHFF closes their case by pointing out the highest scoring game in NFL history occurred in November 1966 between two NFL teams in our beloved DC, later RFK, Stadium when the Redskins out-pointed the New York Giants in a 72-41 win.
CHFF's conclusion: "If you wanted to watch the greatest offensive explosion in the history of pro football, you wanted to watch the boring NFL in the 1960s.
Author's Note: Boy, do I feel old. I have first hand memories of 14 of CHFF's 16 players as well as witnessing that Redskins-Giants barn burner in '66. I still don't like Homer Jones who also made the CHFF list. The Giants have never had a receiver as explosive as that guy, fortunately.
This story also appears on redskinshogheaven.com