Fifty-nine years after the game, Hall of Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh said he suspects the 1940 NFL championship game, a 73-0 rout by the Chicago Bears, was more the result of Washington players' angst toward their owner, George Preston Marshall, than domination by the Bears.
Speaking on Saturday from his ranch in Rotan, Texas, the 85-year-old Baugh told the Associated Press his Redskin teammates were furious with Marshall and allowed the Bears to run up the score.
Baugh first expressed doubts about the integrity of one of the landmark games in NFL history to Washington TV station WJLA in a report broadcasted Tuesday.
Clyde Shugart, a Redskin lineman who played in the 1940 title game, was stunned by Baugh's remarks.
"Was he drunk when he said that?" Shugart said from his home in Baltimore. "I don't remember anything like that. I played as hard as I could, but I never saw so many holes on a line.
"If we were throwing the game, we wouldn't throw it 73-0," he said.
Baugh acknowledged he has no proof to back his suspicions, and added he never came forward until now because he was never asked about it.
NFL spokesman Joe Browne said Saturday the league would not comment on Baugh's remarks.
Baugh said some of his teammates were upset with Marshall before the title game. Washington defeated Chicago, 7-3, two weeks earlier and Marshall publicly taunted the Bears afterward.
"I think it happened because of what the owner did for two weeks," Baugh said by telephone. "He put things in the paper running the Bears down. You don't want to help the other team. You shouldn't say things like that. It made us so mad. They decided not to play.
"Look at the game. How many times do you beat a team two weeks earlier in a real close game and two weeks later you don't do a thing? What I think doesn't matter. I don't think we even wanted to win."
George Musso, the 89-year-old Hall of Fame lineman who played for the Bears that day, also dismissed Baugh's charge.
"It took him 60 years to figure it out, huh," Musso said from his Illinois home near St. Louis. "Now he says that? It doesn't make sense. We were just better that day. It's a lot of baloney. We just outplayed them, that was all. We had seven Hall of Famers on that club. There was good reason for us to win."
Late in practice Thursday, Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis strained a calf muscle when he slipped on Three Rivers Stadium's wet artificial turf. He was listed as probable for today's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The steady rain in Pittsburgh convinced the team to move Friday's practice indoors. . . . The New York Giants signed linebacker O.J. Childress and put cornerback Andre Weathers on injured reserve. Childress, a seventh-round draft pick out of Clemson, spent training camp with the Giants and was on the practice squad this year. Weathers, a rookie from Michigan, tore his anterior cruciate ligament two weeks ago against Indianapolis. . . . An apparent scuffle between wide receiver Vincent Brisby and safety Lawyer Milloy of New England during a charity event Wednesday night hosted by teammate Willie McGinest is being downplayed by the team, with players, coaches and a manager at the nightclub the event was at saying it was not a serious matter.