That year, the Redskins drafted wide receiver Charley Taylor and safety Paul Krause and traded for quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and linebacker Sam Huff. Taylor retired as the leading all-time receiver and Krause, who was traded to the Vikings in 1968 in one of the dumbest deals ever, retired as the all-time leader in interceptions (he still holds the mark with 81). Jurgensen led the league in passing several times and Huff, while no longer the dominant force he was with the Giants, was still a very effective middle linebacker.
They all eventually made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So did Bobby Mitchell, who already was one the team.
The quartet made their debut on September 13, 1964 in the season opener against the Cleveland Browns. As you can see in the game account below, the Redskins lost.
I don’t know if Elias has anything quite like this game on its radar screen. I know it’s unique in Redskins history and I have a feeling that very few other teams have had four future Hall of Fame players make their team debuts in a single game. And if any other team did, they probably did not already have a future Canton enshrinee on the team.
September 13, 1964
DC Stadium—The Redskins built a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, but lost it in a barrage of ill-timed turnovers as the Browns wore down their opponents and got the win.
The Redskins new-look offense, led by quarterback Sonny Jurgensen, acquired via a trade with the Eagles, and running back Charley Taylor, the team’s first-round draft pick out of Arizona, began to click late in the first. From the Washington 12, Jurgensen threw to Pat Richter for 11 yards, the Taylor carried three times for a total of 25. With the defense looking for the rookie, Jurgensen then turned his attention to the Skins’ established star, Bobby Mitchell. The flanker ran a slant and took Jurgensen’s pass for 13 yards down to the three. Taylor got thrown for a loss from there and the Redskins had to settle for Jim Martin’s 12-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Safety Paul Krause, the Redskins’ second-round pick, paid dividends nearly as quickly as Taylor did. He drew a bead on a Frank Ryan pass, leapt in front of the intended receiver, intercepted the pass and returned it 18 yards to the Cleveland 16. Not to be outdone, Taylor converted the turnover, taking a weak side pitch from Jurgensen, finding daylight, and fending off safety Larry Benz to score a touchdown to make it 10-0.
The Washington defense stuffed Jim Brown on the next series and Cleveland had to punt. The rookie magic ended as first-year returner Ozzie Clay fumbled Gary Collins’ boot, giving the Browns the ball at the Washington 24. The miscue swung the momentum to the Browns instantly and, as it turned out, inexorably.
Two plays after the punt, Krause displayed the nature of rookies as he, in his words, “simply got mixed up” and blew his coverage on Collins. Dave Brady of the Post said Collins “was so wide open that the nearest person to him was a spectator sitting directly above in the overhanging second deck of DC Stadium.” The Browns missed the point after but were undaunted as they drove 70 yards to Jim Brown’s one-yard touchdown run to take a 13-10 halftime lead.
In his Redskins debut, middle linebacker Sam Huff got an interception to kill a Cleveland threat inside the Washington 10, but Mitchell quickly gave it back with a fumble that Walter Beach recovered at the Redskin 34. Soon after that, it was Brown scoring from the one again, and the Browns were beginning to pull away. Their cause was greatly aided when Jurgensen fumbled it away at the Cleveland four, short-circuiting a comeback bid.
Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at firstname.lastname@example.org