Sonny Jurgensin is the all-time favorite Washington Redskin football player, standing in a class by himself, according to a Washington Post survey of Redskin followers.
Jurgensen was named No. 1 by 37 per cent of the 879 fans interviewed in a scientific telephone survey conducted the last week in April. The second favorite was Kilmer, who was chosen by just over 9 per cent. Third was Larry Brown, with just under 9 per cent.
Jurgensen's appeal cut across almost all the boundaries that sometimes divide groups - he was the favorite of whites and blacks of men and women. And despite what have been viewed as intermittent tiffs between the retired star quarterback and team coach George Allen, Jurgensen drew the same support from the many who are strong admirers of Allen and the few who disapprove of Allen and want a new coach.
Jurgensen was delighted with the news. "That really makes me feel good," he said.
"You tried to do your best. People can talk all they want about playing in New York or Los Angeles. It was a privilege to play here, and I wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world."
Only two relatively small segments of those interviewed failed to list Jurgensen aheead of all others. One such group consisted of fans 65 or older, who gave the nod to Sammy Baugh, the great quarterback who played here from 1937-1951. Baugh finished fourth overall in the survey, one of the four quarterbacks in the top 10.
The second segment, representing a small fraction of the overall survey. consisted of blacks with annual family incomes of less than $100,000. Among that group, Jurgensen and running back Brown were tied for most popular.
Brown, who has been physically ailing for several years and now plays a relatively minor role in the Redskin attack, sounded as though he could list three or four punishing tackles for every vote of support from the fans.
"It's really a good feeling. It would have to be a bad feeling after all the bumps and bruises and hurting the bad times if the public didn't appreciate the efforts," he said. "I'm pleased to have this popularity despite the condition of my health, my knees."
Brown's childhood was spent in a poor section of Pittsburgh, and his high showing among less affluent blacks in the survey came as no surprise to him.
"When I was a kid," he said, "we did a lot of wishful thinking about sports heroes. Now you've made it, when you go back to that kind of area you can see the electricity among those people."
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the survey was the listing of Billy Kilmer as the No. 2 favorite Kilmer, with a history of being roundly booed frequently in games at RFK Stadium, has complained in the past, especially at the end of the season last year, about being unappreciated in Washington. The survey shows otherwise.
In town last week for a brief round of spring practice, Kilmer was apprised of The Post's poll and made this comment through a team spokesman:
"I appreciate the fans' response. It is a real honor to be in the company of football's two greatest quarterbacks."
While Jurgensen is the runaway first-place choice, there are certain sharp divisions in support for those just behind him. White fans, for example, chose three white players and one black among the the top four, while black fans chose three blacks and one white.
Overall, the top 10 and the percentages they received show fans holding a heavy preference for offensive backfield players and for active players. The rankings and percentages voting for each of the first 10 were:
1. Jurgesen (37.2 per cent)
2. Kilmer (9.4 per cent)$3. Brown (8.5 per cent)
4. Baugh (5.6 per cent)
5. Charley Taylor (4.9 per cent)
6. Chris Hanburger (3.9 per cent)
7. Mike Thomas (3 per cent)
8. tie. Pat Fischer (2 per cent)
Bobby Mitchell (2 per cent)
10. Joe Theismann 1.8 per cent)
Among white Redskin followers, the order was:
1. Jurgensen, 2. Kilmer, 3. Baugh, 4. Brown, 5. Hanburger, 6. Taylor.
Among black fans, the order was:
1. Jurgensen, 2. Brown, 3. Taylor, 4. Mike Thomas, and, tied for fifth, Kilmer and Baugh.