GREATER LANDOVER, Md. — No matter how old you are, there are Sonny Jurgensen memories for every generation of Washington football fan. He played 11 of his 18 years in Washington following a blockbuster trade from the Philadelphia Eagles in 1964 and has been winning hearts of DMV residents ever since.
And now, his legacy in Washington will be further cemented, with the retirement of his jersey number.
Tuesday's announcement from the team, coinciding with Jurgensen's 88th birthday, included praise from the very top of the organization.
“No member of the Washington franchise will ever wear the number 9 again, which is truly a nod to Sonny’s incredible accomplishments on and off the field,” said Co-CEO and Co-Owner Tanya Snyder. "He represents true excellence and professionalism and serves as a role model for future Washington players."
After the swap for fellow pass thrower Norm Snead, Jurgensen appeared in 135 games for Washington and finished his career in the burgundy and gold with 1,831 completions for 22,585 passing yards and 179 passing touchdowns. Jurgensen ranks No. 2 in franchise history in completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns.
Jurgensen and fellow Washington quarterback Billy Kilmer jabbed back and forth in a friendly rivalry for the starting job that divided fans in the 1970s ahead of the team's Super Bowl-winning era.
And those off-the-field accomplishments might be how most current Washington fans who long for the heyday of Lombardi trophies recognize him. Jurgensen spent six years calling plays for CBS and another 38 consecutive years in Washington’s radio booth alongside broadcast icons Sam Huff and Frank Herzog. During his radio tenure he was the voice of the franchise's three Washington Super Bowl titles. He retired from broadcasting in 2019.
The star gunslinger will be honored by the franchise in pregame ceremonies both on the main concourse of FedExField and on the field leading up to kickoff of their week 18 mathcup against heated NFC-East division rivals, the Cowboys, against whom Jurgensen had some of his best performances. Jurgensen famously led one of the greatest comebacks in franchise history when on Nov. 28 1965, after trailing 21-0 in the second quarter, Sonny led multiple late drives including a rushing score and a game-winner to beat Dallas 34-31.
“I am very humbled by this recognition, it is an honor of a lifetime to have my jersey retired with a franchise I spent 55 years of my life with,” said Jurgensen. "From hanging up my cleats to hanging up my clipboard and headset a few decades later, my time spent in Washington meant the world to me."
He was sure to thank the masses that cheered him on along the way, adding, "Thank you to the fan base for cheering on the Burgundy & Gold every single Sunday. Without you, we wouldn’t have the ability to play or talk about this special game for a living. Lastly, a special thank you to my wife Margo for always being by my side and for the unconditional support.”
The standout quarterback was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983, is a five-time Pro Bowler, and member of Washington’s Ring of Fame and inaugural 70 Greatest list. His 255 passing touchdowns are ranked 21st all-time in NFL history. Jurgensen will become the fourth member in the franchise’s 90-year history to have his jersey retired.