In taking a good, fair look at NFL history, one must appreciate its early proponents. They are responsible for creating that golden standard, a perpetually rising bar of how things are done to revolutionize the sport. One such individual that the entirety of football has to thank is Bob Waterfield.
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He was a quarterback who immediately made waves. Aptly so, he was named 1946 Rookie of the Year. He ended that season with a championship game where he threw 37 touchdown passes and 44 yards, giving the Cleveland Rams an emphatic win against the Washington Redskins. He was hands down Most Valuable Player, making him the first ever rookie to achieve such a feat.
Easily, he signed a fresh three-year contract after such an enormous achievement, which earned him $20,000 a year, making him the highest paid player in the NFL. As the Rams eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, Waterfield was the instant star of the team which was now the West Coast’s first professional franchise.
Even as Norm Van Brocklin proved to be another very notable quarterback with whom he had to share his playing time, they formed a powerful duo that saw them vie for the league championship thrice. Unsuccessful in the first two attempts, they capped their run with a poetic win in 1951 over the Cleveland Browns.
He was also a tough defender, with a total of 20 intercepts in his first four seasons. He led the NFL in passing in the 1946 and 1951. His eight-year career played to the tune of 814 completions, 11,849 yards and 97 touchdowns.
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He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.