That was before NFL Hall of Famer Slingin' Sammy Baugh revolutionized the forward pass. In addition to redefining the quarterback position, Baugh starred on the defensive side of the ball and handled the kicking duties.
Baugh passed away yesterday at the age of 94.
And, the more I think about it, he may have been the greatest football player of all-time. Certainly the most versatile.
"Baugh was the best all-around player in an era when such versatility was essential. In 1943, he led the league in passing, punting and defensive interceptions. In one game, he threw four touchdown passes and intercepted four as well. He threw six touchdowns passes in a game twice. His 51.4-yard punting average in 1940 is still the NFL record.
"There's nobody any better than Sam Baugh was in pro football," Don Maynard, a fellow West Texas Hall of Famer who played for Baugh, said in a 2002 interview. "When I see somebody picking the greatest player around, to me, if they didn't go both ways, they don't really deserve to be nominated. I always ask, 'Well, how'd he do on defense? How was his punting?'"
It's extremely hard to compare players of different generation, but there is something to be said about a player being able to do it all.
At the very least every Tom Brady type that got the gorgeous girl because he was the quarterback owes Baugh a debt of gratitude. That turning around and handing off thing just doesn't have the same panache as a touchdown pass.