Over the next few weeks we will be looking back on some Redskins greats for their heroics on the field as well as off of it. With 35 days until the start of training camp I looked back at the magnificent career of Bill Dudley.
Last year the Washington Redskins advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 behind a high octane offense, an opportune defense and a special teams unit that did whatever task was presented to them.
Together the three units gelled over one common bond—refuse to quit no matter the odds.
Sure Robert Griffin III passed for 20 touchdowns, Alfred Morris set the franchise’s single season rushing record, and Kai Forbath nailed his first 17 attempts—but the trio couldn’t do what Hall of Famer Bill Dudley.
Dudley, like Sammy Baugh, did just about everything on the field during his nine-year career.
After a four-year career at the University of Virginia which included being voted a consensus All-American his senior year, Dudley was taken with the first pick in the 1942 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The former Caviler was a once in a lifetime product (and lone future Hall of Famer from that draft).
Unlike the Redskins, the Steelers struggled dating back to their establishment in 1933. Through the franchise’s first nine years, it had compiled a record of 25-71-6 and had failed to get a record above .500.
But that was before Dudley came to town.
In his first season with Pittsburgh, the franchise secured its first record above .500 (7-4) behind a top-five offense powered by the 1966 Hall of Fame inductee.
Not only did he record a league-high 696 rushing yards en route to MVP honors, but he had the most punt return yards, kick return yards, touches and finished in the top-10 in passing yards.
Despite the fact that Dudley had a very promising NFL career ahead of him, he entered the military hthe following year to serve our country during World War II.
After being overseas for the 1943 and 1944 seasons, Dudley returned before the start of the 1945. Like he did during his rookie campaign, the tailback led the league in rushing.
In 1946, after a trade with the Detroit Lions, Dudley experienced the same situation he stepped into when he was drafted—to a franchise that struggled to stay relevant.
While Dudley had clearly had the early track record to be one of the greatest backs in league history if given the carries, the Lions had different plans for him.
Playing on the defensive side of the pigskin.
While Dudley once again proved his status as one of the best to ever step onto the field (he recorded a league-high 10 interceptions), the rest of the team failed to help the Lions become a playoff contender.
That’s when the Redskins swooped in and made one of the greatest trades in franchise history.
Dudley was still one of the best players in the league when the burgundy and gold acquired him, but the UVA product hadn’t been to the Pro Bowl since his rookie season.
A great player who couldn’t find any luck in getting back to the Pro Bowl—that seemed to be the bill on him.
That went out the window, though, when he came to our Nation’s Capital to finish his career.
In his first two seasons here, Dudley became a one man show. He would score a touchdown and then cap off his work by kicking the extra point, but after once again being left out of the postseason and his age creeping close to 40, Dudley decided to announce his retirement following the 1953 season.
While he only spent a third of his career with the Redskins, the Virginia native admitted that playing for his hometown team was unmatched stating that is was “a dream come true” to wear a burgundy and gold uniform.
In 1966 Dudley was one of eight men selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Despite the fact that he only spent three years here, he is one of the 80 Greatest Redskins.
A truly amazing honor.
Hail to the Redskins!
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