One was an anchor of the Minnesota Vikings’ famed “Purple People Eaters” at defensive end. The other is regarded as one of the finest pure passers in the history of the National Football League.
Both are members of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And with the game in full swing in October, Carl Eller and Sonny Jurgensen have been selected as the organization’s co-Members of the Month.
Eller is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he played on an undefeated state championship team at Atkins High in the old North Carolina High School Athletic Conference. He was a consensus All-American at the University of Minnesota and was runner-up for the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s top interior lineman, as a senior.
Not surprisingly, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Eller was a first-round draft pick by the Vikings where he played for 15 seasons and was the all-time sack leader. Eller, who was the NFL’s defensive player of the year in 1971, also had 23 fumble recoveries. He spent his final year playing for the Seattle Seahawks before retiring after the 1979 campaign.
Minnesota won the NFL/NFC title four times during Eller’s tenure with the team and he was one of only 11 Vikings to play in all four of those Super Bowls, starting in each one. Eller is a six-time Pro Bowler who started in all but 16 of the 225 regular season games in which he played.
“I’ve always wanted to be a super ball player, always wanted to be a star,” Eller says in his biography on the Pro Football Hall of Fame website. “I want to be the best in his league and that’s what I work on.”
Eller was inducted into the NCSHOF in 1991. For more information on the Vikings great, click here. https://www.ncshof.org/carleller
Jurgensen was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he was a three-sport star at New Hanover High School. He played collegiately at Duke, where he started at quarterback for two years and also played defensive back and punted.
Drafted in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles, Jurgensen spent his first three seasons as an understudy, first to Bobby Thomason and then to Norm Van Brocklin. Jurgensen finally earned the starting nod in 1961 and had a standout season, passing for 3,723 yards and 32 touchdowns, both NFL records at the time, and was an All-Pro selection.
A classic drop-back passer, Jurgensen was traded to Washington in 1964 and spent the next 10 seasons with the Redskins, where he played in four more Pro Bowls. He finished his 18-year career with a staggering 2,433 completions for 32,224 yards and 255 touchdowns.
Jurgensen led the NFL in passing yards five times and in touchdowns twice. He also passed for more than 400 yards in a single game on five occasions and twice threw five touchdown passes in one.
“All I ask of my blockers is four seconds,” Jurgensen says in his biography on the Pro Football Hall of Fame website. “I try to stay on my feet and not be forced out of the pocket. I beat people by throwing, not running. I won’t let them intimidate me into doing something which is not the best thing I can do.”
Jurgensen was inducted into the NCSHOF in 1971. For more information on the Redskins star, click here. https://www.ncshof.org/sonnyjurgensen