Redskins franchise five: Joe Gibbs, Sammy Baugh lead the pack of Washington's legends
The best of the best who have donned the burgundy and gold
Established in July of 1932, the Washington Redskins are one of the oldest franchises in the NFL. From the Boston Braves to the Boston Redskins until their move to D.C. back in 1937, this franchise is one of just five to record over 600 regular-season and postseason wins. The Redskins have won five NFL championships, including three Super Bowls, and have also won 14 divisional titles and five conference championships.
"Hail to the Redskins" is one of the most catchy fight songs in the league and you have to love the fact that they possess their own marching band. The ravenous sports fans in the Northern Virginia area have made the Redskins one of the most talked-about franchises in the NFL — whether they are winning the Super Bowl or going 3-13. Their reach even appears to extend into the world of politics, as the " Redskins Rule" is something many pay attention to during elections. Their history is rich, as they became the first team to select a black Heisman Trophy winner with the top selection in an NFL Draft and quarterback Doug Williams became the first black quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory while also picking up the Super Bowl MVP award.
CBSSports.com's Franchise Five series dives into five most impactful people in each NFL's team history. Our rules here allow us to pick one head coach, one quarterback and three non-quarterback players. Let's take a look back at some of the men that have made this franchise one of the more special ones in the NFL.
Coach: Joe Gibbs
Redskins career: 1981-1992, 2004-2007
"People who enjoy what they are doing invariably do it well." – Joe Gibbs
Joe Gibbs is more than just an NFL or Redskins legend, he's a sports legend. As a NASCAR owner, he is a five-time Cup Series Champion, a two-time Xfinity Series Champion and has been a part of four Daytona 500 victories. He's in the NASCAR Hall of Fame as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When it came to picking a coach for this project, Gibbs was the easy answer. He has more than twice the wins of any other Redskins coach and three of their five championships.
When Gibbs took over in 1981, he took a losing team and finished 8-8. The very next season, the Redskins defeated the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. In his third season, Gibbs would go 14-2 and took Washington to the Super Bowl yet again, but unfortunately lost to the Los Angeles Raiders. In his first stint with the Redskins, Gibbs took Washington to the playoffs eight times before calling it quits following the 1992 season. The Redskins would make it back to the postseason just once in the next 11 seasons before Gibbs shocked the world by announcing he was returning to coach the Redskins. Several teams had tried to procure the services of the sports legend, but something owner Dan Snyder said in late 2003 during a private meeting appeared to stick with him. Gibbs would only record two winning seasons over the next four years, but he did take Washington to the playoffs twice as well. Since Gibbs' second retirement, the Redskins have only made the postseason two times — once with Mike Shanahan and once with Jay Gruden.
QB: Sammy Baugh
Redskins career: 1937-1952
"Until Sammy Baugh — pro football in Texas was a one-paragraph story on the third page of the Monday sports section." – Dan Jenkins (author and sportswriter)
The Redskins have had some legendary quarterbacks over the past 87 years, but Sammy Baugh is truly one of the best players in franchise history. "Slingin' Sammy" out of TCU was a three-way player, as he found success as a quarterback, defensive back and punter. He was a first-round pick back in 1937, and helped the Redskins secure an NFL championship in his very first season — making him just one of three players to lead his college team and pro team to a championship. His 1943 campaign is still one of the best seasons of all time, as he led the NFL in passing (133-of-239 for 1,754 yards), punting (45.9-yard average) and interceptions (11), according to Redskins.com.
We could have selected another quarterback for this spot and put the Pro Football Hall of Famer further down on this list, but what makes Baugh so special is that he was one of the first NFL quarterbacks to make the forward pass a key component of his game. Now look at the league today, it's all about deep passes and putting up points. Baugh would win another NFL championship in 1942 and made the second-ever Pro Bowl in 1951. On "Sammy Baugh Day" at Griffith Stadium on Nov. 23, 1947, Redskins fans gave Baugh a maroon station wagon. He responded by throwing six touchdown passes in leading the Redskins to a 45-21 rout of the Chicago Cardinals. Those six passing touchdowns still remain a Redskins' franchise record. He was a two-time NFL champion, a seven-time First-team All-Pro and is the only Redskin to ever have his jersey retired. Baugh passed away in December of 2008.
RB John Riggins
Redskins career: 1976-1985
"When things are going awry, it's time to put the blinders on and do your job. Just do your job. Don't worry about the other guy, don't worry about the wins and losses, just worry about what the very next play is." – John Riggins
"The Diesel" or "Riggo" if you will, always wanted the rock and he came through countless times. Riggins had some nice seasons with the New York Jets, but really broke out with the Redskins. The 1976 and 1977 seasons were nothing to write home about, but then Riggins rushed for over 1,000 yards and 14 total touchdowns in 1978 and 1979. As we all know, he missed the 1980 season due to a contract dispute, but he and Gibbs finally got the job done and the Redskins went on to win Super Bowl XVII a couple of seasons later during the strike-shortened 1982 campaign. His 43-yard touchdown against the Dolphins during that game will go down in history as one of the best Super Bowl plays of all time. With about 10 minutes remaining, the Redskins were facing a fourth and one. They ran the ball the previous three plays, but everyone seemed to know they were going to try it again. Riggins breaks a Don McNeal tackle and takes it 40-plus yards to the house. If Riggins had been stopped there, the Dolphins may have won the game. "The Diesel" was awarded Super Bowl MVP after running for what was then a Super-Bowl record 166 yards. His 38 carries in the Super Bowl, however, is a record that may never be broken. He followed up that Super Bowl win with his best season ever, as he rushed for a career-high 1,347 yards and 24 touchdowns in 1983 as the Redskins made it back to the Super Bowl.
Riggins was your classic workhorse in the backfield that specialized in those short-yardage situations. He carried 2,916 times for 11,352 yards and 104 touchdowns during his NFL career and also caught 250 passes for 2,090 yards and 12 touchdowns. He rushed for over 1,000 yards five times and also posted six 100-yard playoff games. He holds several NFL records, most of them having to do with how he effective he was into his mid-30s.
WR Art Monk
Redskins career: 1980-1993
"Art Monk was an example for Jerry Rice. That's what Jerry always told me." – Ronnie Lott
If you are wondering how well Art Monk is respected by Redskins fans, he received a four-minute and four-second standing ovation when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton on August 2, 2008. It was the longest standing ovation in Pro Football Hall of Fame history. The first-round pick of the Redskins in 1980 quickly became one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. After recording a franchise record 58 catches in his rookie season, Monk caught 56 passes for 894 yards and six touchdowns in his second season. To put it simply, Monk was a big, strong and athletic wideout who could hurt you in almost any way a receiver could. Probably his most noteworthy NFL accomplishment was his record for career receptions (940), which was later broken by Jerry Rice.
During his 14 seasons with the Redskins, Monk won three Super Bowls (XVII, XXII, and XXVI) and was a part of just three losing seasons. He was a three-time Pro Bowler, holds the Redskins' franchise record for yards from scrimmage, receiving yards, receptions as well as several NFL records such as being the first player to record over 100 receptions in the Super Bowl era. Coach Gibbs claimed Monk was the complete package and the strongest outside wideout he had ever coached. Third-down conversions, big plays, blocking — he could do it all.
CB Darrell Green
Redskins career: 1983-2002
"I don't think anyone makes a game plan to go against Darrell Green. You can't make a living going against Darrell Green." – Emmitt Thomas (Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive backs coach)
There's so many players you could put in this final spot, but I have saved it for Darrell Green. The Redskins' first-round pick in the 1983 NFL Draft played for Washington for all 20 of his NFL seasons and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame the same year Monk was. They were similar not just in their on-field success, but by how they conducted themselves as well. They both were players who you were proud to have on your team. Green's career got off to a hot start right away, as he scored the first time he touched a ball in the NFL — a 61-yard punt return against the Atlanta Falcons in a preseason game. He intercepted a pass in an NFL-record 19 straight seasons and recorded 54 in all.
Green was known for his speed, and it allowed him to play until he was 42. When he turned 50 in 2010, he claimed he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash! He was a part of two Super Bowl wins, was named to the Pro Bowl seven times and was the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 1996. Green still holds six franchise records including six pick-sixes and most games played with 295.