Cliff Battles does not think Sonny Jurgensen is of an age to have, his obituary written, despite the current nostalgia blitz.
"Don't you think the Redskins can use Sonny?" the pro Football Hall of Famer asked rhetorically at the touchdown Club the other night.
Jurgensen was 43 Aug. 23, but well intentioned club president Bob Johnson fell into a trap while predicting that Jurgensen's induction into the Touchdown Club's Hall of Fame would be followed by enshrinement in the national hall of fame.
"Old Sonny . . ." Johnson remarked and there was an immediate collective groan from the audience, resenting any implication that Jurgensen was about a trip over his whiskers. Johnson quickly demonstrated he intended the word "old" to carry an affectionate connotation by continuing. ". . . ole redhead . . . ole No. 9."
There is a bit of quarterback emeritus in Jurgersen's conversation these days, but he is current in his interest in football. For instance, he sounded like an eager rookie as he mentioned his network sportcasting schedule, which will take him with Vin Scully to Atlanta possibly to see Joe Namath play for Los Angeles in the opening week of the season.
He will be back at RFK Stadium the next week for Atlanta's game against the Redskins, then go to Los Angeles for the Rams' game against San Francisco.
Jurgensen indicated that he and people he has talked to were a bit disappointed by Joe Theismann's relief role for the Redskins against New England in light of high promise he showed in earlier games.
"You go into a game when the other team has a big lead," Jurgensen said, and you have nothing to lose, everything to gain. You just drop back, read the defense and release the ball. You don't hold the ball and run around. I would have thrown 50 passes in that game. I remember being down 21-0 once (against Dallas in 1965, when the Redskins won 34-31 and he passed for three touchdowns and more that 400 yards).
"If I had run into Joe, I would have told him that. Of course, I don't know what the circumstances were. Maybe the coach (George Allen) or Charlie Waller (offensive coordinator) wanted Joe to test some of the players, maybe some running backs.
"George Allen surely will use that score in new England to his advantage this season. He will lecture the players what can happen if they don't play at 100 per cent of their ability. They better play at 100 per cent or there may be more games for them like that one."