Here he is, Mr. Washington
Page 2 staff
Washington is still largely a man's man's world, which raises the question, who is The Man among men on the D.C. sports scene? Who, more than anyone else, stands for sports in the nation's capital? If there is a Mr. Washington of sports, who is he? Here are our picks.
1. Sonny Jurgensen
|Sonny Jurgensen still owns Washington.|
The Skins acquired Jurgensen in 1964, and for the next 11 years his flair captured D.C.'s imagination. The fair-haired QB could throw short and long from every conceivable angle, and in 1967 he set league marks for attempts (508), completions (288), and yards (3,747). Off the field, he enjoyed a legendary nightlife, and he remains a popular local broadcaster. "He is to D.C., I think, what Namath is to NY," said Tony Kornheiser in 1999.
2. Jack Kent Cooke
The headline on his obit in The Washington Post read "A Washington Monument." To be in the presence of the billionaire, hands-on boss of the Redskins -- he called them his "hobby" -- was about as close to power as you could come in Washington in the '80s and '90s. He took the Redskins higher when he hired Joe Gibbs in 1981, and the Redskins took him higher when they won the 1983 Super Bowl. "I am in a state of ecstasy," he said in the locker room after the win. "Never mind that nonsense about euphoria and so on, it is sheer unadulterated, uncompromising ecstasy."
3. Joe Gibbs
He arrived in D.C. in 1981 and left 12 years and 140 victories later, and what an impression he made. Gibbs' 'Skins made it to the playoffs eight times and won the Super Bowl three times in four appearances. "In a century in which Washington had a losing baseball team, and then no baseball team; when the basketball team provided only a few shining moments, Gibbs set a standard for excellence in this city," wrote The Washington Post's Richard Justice in 1999.
|Former Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs set a standard for excellence.|
4. Morgan Wootten
The legendary basketball coach is still going strong in his 46th season at DeMatha, where he has five national championships and 1,213 wins, a national high school record. He's coached more than 150 players who went on to play college ball and 12 who went on to NBA. He’s the only H.S. coach to be named one of "America's greatest sports figures of the 20th century" by ESPN, and only the third H.S. coach elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame -- nominated by John Wooden, who said, "I stand in awe of him."
5. John Thompson
He inherited a 3-23 team when he arrived at Georgetown in 1972, and within three years the Hoyas were playing in the NCAA tourney. He led Georgetown to the NCAA title in 1984, and coached Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, and Allen Iverson while becoming a powerful, eloquent representative for black advancement and achievement. Graduation rate of four-year players under Thompson: 97 percent. He's now a host of a radio talk show in D.C.
6. Sammy Baugh
Triple-threat Slingin' Sammy played for the 'Skins from 1937 to 1952, and was worth the price of admission by himself. He led the Redskins to four NFL titles in his first seven years. Check out the NFL record book's passing category, and you'll see his name all over the place. Check out the punting category, and discover he still holds the NFL record for punting, with a 45.4 yard career average. In 1943, he accomplished a triple that will never be equaled, leading the NFL in passing, punting, and interceptions.
|A triple-threat such as Slingin' Sammy Baugh will never be seen again.|
7. John Riggins
"Reagan may be president, but today I'm king," Riggo said after leading the 'Skins to a win in Super Bowl XVII. Nobody argued with him, and the former running back remains one of the most popular and entertaining athletes in D.C.
8. Walter Johnson
As the Big Train said of his own fastball, "You can't hit what you can't see." He pitched 21 years and led the Senators to their only World Series win, in 1924, and he finished his career with 416 wins and a 2.17 ERA.
9. Darrell Green
The 'Skins cornerback is a seven-time All-Pro defensive back and a four-time winner of the NFL Fastest Man Competition. He turns 40 on Feb. 15, and he says he'll be back in 2002 for his 20th season as a Redskin. Green's a community leader -- the hands-on founder of the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation and a board member of a group trying to bring the 2012 Olympic Games to D.C. "Darrell Green makes me smile just walking into a room," said former 'Skins coach Norv Turner in 1999. "He has more energy and more life in him than anyone."
|Darrell Green is a leader on the field and in the community.|
10. Wes Unseld
In 1969, he became the only player in NBA history besides Wilt Chamberlain to be named Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season, and he led the Bullets to their only title, in 1978. He's had less success as a coach and executive for the Bullets-Wizards, but when you're talking pro hoops in D.C., you're talking Unseld, not Jordan.
Also receiving votesShirley Povich
George Michael (of the Sports Machine, not Wham!)