Billy Kilmer and the $100 bill
There were bumper stickers all over the place. They said, “I like Sonny,” and “I like Billy.”
Well, I liked Sonny, the pure passing quarterback of the Washington Redskins. His name was Sonny Jurgensen.
Well, old Sonny occasionally would get hurt like the time he tore his achilles heel. And the former QB from UCLA, Kilmer, was called into action.
Who was this guy anyway? Long before he joined the Skins, Kilmer was the top pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 1962. And the 49ers and Skins opened the season playing each other. It was no contest: The 49ers murdered us 35-3. SF QB John Brodie threw for four touchdowns.
Kilmer didn’t do much in those days. He sat on the bench and took notes.
And then Kilmer was excused. He was sent to the Saints and got a chance to play. That was the good news. The bad news is the Saints were a bad team. His first team went 3-11. Our Redskins roughed up Kilmer in a 30-10 romp in Sept of 1967. Jurgensen teamed up with Charley Taylor on one score.
And then Kilmer got his big break. He came to the Redskins when George Allen was coaching. And Kilmer, now 32-years-0ld, was ready to take over the reins of this offense. Washington won five straight games to open the season.
Not known for his gorgeous passing, Kilmer still threw for more than 2,200 yards. And Kilmer and the Skins went to the playoffs in 1971. They took on the team that drafted him a decade earlier, the 49ers. And this game in San Francisco was close.
Kilmer’s pass to Jerry Smith of five yards put Washington in the lead. Kilmer hit running back Larry Brown on a 16-yard score late but the Skins fell 24-20.
The year was 1972. Richard Nixon was a happy man. George Allen, a big Nixon supporter, had other things on his mind. Like how to take this Redskins team a little further.
On the first day of Oct of 1972, Kilmer fired a pair of early touchdowns to the great Charley Taylor. We were handling the home-standing Patriots of New England. Jim Plunkett had other ideas, the New England QB orchestrated a 24-23 victory for his team.
Allen’s team, with Kilmer in charge, would win 9 games win a row. Frankly, I will never forget the game on the last day of December. The Skins were playing the despised Cowboys from Dallas. At stake was a berth in the Super Bowl.
Kilmer and the Skins blew out the Cowboys, 26-3. It was delightful. Kicker Curt Knight was the hero with 4 field goals. Kilmer teamed up with Taylor for a pair of scores. We were one game from glory.
The team standing in the way of a Super Bowl win? It was the unbeaten Dolphins of Miami.
It was a strange game. We should have won. Our defense showed up to play. Kilmer wasn’t great against the unbeaten Dolphins. No matter, we got a gift from nutty kicker Garo Yepremian. It made the game closer than it should have been. Oh well.
The Skins dropped this game, 14-7.
Billy Kilmer would play professional football until he was 39-years-old. No matter, he was no Sonny Jurgensen. It didn’t matter, he was so brave and so determined it didn’t matter.
Oh, the $100 dollar bill. As memory serves, he went to a pancake house and paid for it with a $100 dollar bill. It made headlines. Heck, leave the man alone. He was cool.