He's got the arm. All he needs is a few games under his belt. I can teach him the rest."
This was Norman Van Brocklin, the matchless Philadelphia quarterback, speaking over the hubbub in the Eagles' dressing room after they had won the pro football championship last winter. He was talking about a cheerful redhead named Sonny Jurgensen, who for three years had occupied a seat on the Eagle bench waiting for Van Brocklin to retire.
"The guys like him, and they'll play for him," Van Brocklin said. "We're not gonna hurt too much at quarterback."
The "we," as it turned out, was editorial since the Eagles passed by Van Brocklin, now the head coach of the new Minnesota Vikings, to hire Nick Skorich as coach, but the rest of Van Brocklin's analysis qualifies him as a prophet—on the basis of Jurgensen's first effort as quarterback of the Eagles.
He led the club surely and confidently to a 28-14 victory over a College All-Star team which was probably the best of the last 11 years. He threw three touchdown passes during the evening, completed one Bob Cousy-type basketball pass behind his back to Pete Retzlaff, the Eagle end, which turned a probable 10-yard loss into an actual 14-yard gain and, most important, he guided the Eagles with Van Brocklinlike confidence.
After the All-Star Game Tommy McDonald, who rooms with Jurgensen and who caught three touchdown passes, said: "You should have been in that huddle. You should have heard him run the club. No doubts, no hesitation. Boom, boom. We knew he could do it. We knew it."
Jurgensen's teammates and coaches were the only people in Chicago last week who did know it. The tenor of most newspaper stories was that Jurgensen was no Van Brocklin, and without a Van Brocklin the Eagles were not much of a club. The world champions went into the game the shortest-priced favorites in its long history.
"Sure, he's got the arm," one pro scout said. "Everybody knows that. But the word on Sonny is that he can't take pressure. The All-Stars have got the kind of defensive line that can put pressure on him. If they red dog [rush him with one or more linebackers as well as the line] he'll be in trouble."
"I'm not worried," Jurgensen said. He and McDonald were in their hotel room at the Del Prado Hotel, watching the sad TV fare available in Chicago on a Friday afternoon. "If we can't handle a red dog, no one can," he went on. "The Giants used it on Dutch [Van Brocklin]. I guess our blockers know more about it than any others in the league."