50 years ago the Giants, Jürgensen and Kilmer

Sonny Jurgensen, Billy Kilmer, the Commanders and the Giants were in the news this week.

Boy does THAT bring back memories.

Much like this 2022 season, Washington came into the 1972 away game against the Giants feeling really good. After an early season 24-23 loss with the Patriots, George Allen had reinstated Sonny Jurgensen as his starting quarterback. Washington had defeated the Eagles 14-0 and defeated the Cardinals 33-3 in St. Louis.

In Sonny’s third start, the offense against Dallas started slowly, falling behind 13-0 and 20-7, but then Sonny, Larry Brown and Charley Harraway played key roles in a terrific 24-20 win from behind a frenzied home crowd at RFK.

After the great comeback win against Dallas, Sonny led the Burgundy and Gold (5-1) to New York to take on the Giants (4-2). Back then, the Giants played their games on the grass field of Yankee Stadium. In contrast to modern field accommodations, the Yankees had played 81 games on the field, and the Giants would play half of their six on-field exhibition games and seven regular-season games. The field did not have time to recover and the NFL season was therefore very destructive for a grass field.

In the first quarter, Jürgensen was untouched on a dropback; however, he stepped on an uneven patch of grass and tore his Achilles tendon. Billy Kilmer took over, and Washington would lead 23-9 and win 23-16 for their fourth straight win.

Kilmer had taken over from Jurgensen, and George Allen’s best team (1972) won nine straight games, the NFC East 11-3 and the NFC Championship before losing to the undefeated Dolphins in Super Bowl VII.

George Allen created his own narrative, and Jürgensen was treated unfairly as if he were divisive himself. Allen went so far as to ban Jurgensen from the sidelines during the Super Bowl, though Kilmer wanted Jurgensen’s help.

Kilmer defended Sonny more than once, stating that the two actually remained good friends and that Jurgensen always tried to help Kilmer as quarterback to want the team to win. George Allen was paranoid at times, but that’s another story for another day.

This week we learned that the current organization leadership appears to know little to nothing about this past connection between Kilmer and Jurgensen. Kilmer told Thom Loverro he would love to be a part of Sonny’s No. 9, who retires on Jan. 8, 2023 in the season finale against Dallas. “No one has told me anything about what’s going on. I want to come up.”

After playing for Washington from 1964 to 1974, Sonny was part of the radio team from 1981 to 2018.

I’m sorry but I have to ask, will the organization understand that Frank Herzog, Larry Michael and Chris Cooley have to be there too?


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