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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A football legend born and raised in the Port City was recognized today during a special ceremony at his alma mater.
Before he was named to the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade Team, before playing 18 seasons with the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles and before he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, Sonny Jurgensen started his gridiron career as a quarterback for the New Hanover High School Wildcats.
“I started as a freshman at New Hanover, being on the knee, on the ground throwing the football, learning how to throw the football, learning the motion and what you’re supposed to do,” Jurgensen recalled Tuesday.
More than half a century after his high school career ended, Jurgensen was honored again by his alma mater Tuesday as a “Hometown Hall of Famer.” In 2007 the field here Legion Stadium was named after Jurgensen and fellow Wildcat quarterback and NFL veteran Roman Gabriel.
Tuesday two of his high school teammates presented a plaque dedicated to Jurgensen. The living legend says out of all his awards over the years, this one hits especially close to home.
“This is very special, because this is where it all started,” Jurgensen said. “To come back here to Wilmington, this is where, like these young men that are on the team here at New Hanover, this is where they are getting their introduction to taking a part and participating in a team sport.”
Jurgensen got a chance to give the current Wildcats advice on how they can accomplish their dreams.
“It’s how badly do you want it? What commitment? What passion do you have to be the best that you can be? And that’s what I did,” he said.
After playing his college ball at Duke, Jurgensen was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and won three NFL passing titles. He still does color commentary for Redskins games on the radio in Washington.