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Thursday, December 18, 2008
A tribute to Slingin' Sammy Baugh

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

 
 Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images
 Sammy Baugh was a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural class.

The only problem with living to age 94 is that most of your friends aren't around to talk about you anymore. But legendary former Horned Frogs and Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh never cared much for adulation. He died Wednesday near his beloved ranch in Rotan, Texas, and he leaves behind some wonderful memories.

My friend and mentor Frank Luksa, a legend in his own right, delivered a touching tribute to Baugh this morning. Redskins fans may have heard rumors of Baugh's exploits, but Luksa pulls back the curtain on how the league was viewed in those days. Baugh was scared to death that his teammates would find out he was making $8,000 to play quarterback.

"It scared the livin' hell out of me because I thought someone would find out how much I was making," Baugh said. "It really gave me a strange feeling to know I was so overpaid when we had guys doing their job as well as I did and making less than $200 a game.

"We won the [NFL] championship that year, and Cliff Battles led the league in rushing. The next year, he asked for a $250 raise up to $3,000 a year, and Marshall wouldn't give it to him, so he quit.

"If I'd known what they were doing, I would have given him the $250 myself because after that first year, I was making $12,000."

You can still find Baugh in the NFL record books. He won six passing titles and four punting crowns while playing for the Redskins from 1937-52. He also tied an NFL record with four interceptions in a game (He played safety in addition to quarterback and punter). Baugh was the last living member of the original Hall of Fame class.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Baugh family today.