News & Politics

Sonny Jurgensen’s Greatest DC Moments

As a player and a radio announcer, the NFL great—who recently retired—had a 55-year relationship with our area.

Photograph by Focus on Sport/Getty.

When Sonny Jurgensen announced his retirement in Au­gust after 38 seasons in the radio booth, it marked the end of a 55-year relationship between Washington’s NFL team and one of its greatest stars. Some of our favorite moments:

1964: Coming to DC

The Eagles trade him to DC for Norm Snead. Jurgensen takes it personally, throwing five touchdowns in his first game against his old team. Over the rest of his career, his record as a starter against Philly is 13–3.

1969: Doing his best

As thrilling as Jurgensen is to watch, his team isn’t so hot. This is his only winning season as a starter in DC. Vince Lombardi coaches Washington to its first better-than-break-even season in more than a decade.

1974: Leaving the Field

Jurgensen’s only playoff appearance is a 19–10 loss to the Rams. Playing as a backup, he throws three fourth-quarter interceptions. It’s his last game as a player, capping an 18-year career with 32,224 passing yards and 255 touchdowns.

1981: Off to the Booth

Along with Sam Huff and Frank Herzog, Jurgensen begins a gig providing commentary for the WMAL radio broadcasts of each game. The trio has such chemistry that many fans turn the TV sound off and listen to the radio.

1991: Winning it all

One of Washington’s greatest teams—QB Mark Rypien, running back Earnest Byner, receivers Gary Clark and Art Monk—goes all the way, with Jurgensen capturing the excitement.

2009: Telling It Like It Is

As the team descends into haplessness, Jurgensen isn’t afraid to call out missteps. Coach Jim Zorn is one target. After Zorn’s infamous “swinging gate” play, Jurgensen doesn’t hold back, calling it one of the worst ever.

2019: Hanging It Up

Moments before the 2019 preseason kickoff, the 84-year-old Jurgensen surprises fans with a recorded message about his retirement. “I had enough. Had enough,” he says in an interview after the announcement. “You’ve eventually got to do it.”

This article appears in the October 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

Rick Snider

Author Rick Snider is a native Washingtonian who has covered sports since 1978, currently for the Washington Post’s Express and 106.7 The Fan.