Eddie LeBaron: A man who stood tall

Eddie LeBaron

Standing 5’7 and weighing 168 pounds, his nickname at first glance the “Little General” would seem to come more from his stature than anything else. You would be wrong, his nickname came from his leadership abilities his Korean War record, his ability to accomplish things that would be beyond most mortal mens grasp. His life was truly a testament to the human spirit, he never allowed his size or anything else to keep him from accomplishing his goals.

Let’s start off with the fact that his college career began at the College of Pacific started remarkable at the tender age of 16! after a standout career at the College of the Pacific, he was drafted in the 10th round of the 1950 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins.He was called away from his first NFL training camp by The United States Marine Corps to fight in the Korean War. That in itself would be impressive, but what he did in the Korean War added the most amazing chapter to this mans story. In a hard-fought battle at Korea’s Heartbreak Ridge, LeBaron, left cover under heavy fire to contact the forward observation post of a mortar platoon, in sight of the enemy. After an assaulting rifle platoon in his area lost its commander, he took charge and resumed the attack. For his heroic efforts, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He was also wounded twice in the war and was also decorated with the Purple Heart.

In 1952 he returned from the war and resumed his career with the Washington Redskins, that year he would replace Hall-of-Famer Sammy Baugh after four games. He finished the 1952 season winning the NFL Rookie of the year award.

In 1954 the Canadian Football League started raiding NFL rosters and the Calgary Stampeders signed LeBaron. He signed with Calgary because his college coach, Larry Siemering from the College of Pacific, was the head coach. He was the starting Quarterback for Calgary and also played defensive back and was the teams punter. He decided at the end of the season to return to the NFL.

He returned to the Washington Redskins, where he would be there starting quarterback for the next seven seasons. He earned all-pro honors four times in his seven years with the Redskins.

After not being able to participate in the 1960 NFL draft during their inaugural season of existence the Dallas Cowboys traded their number one pick in the 1961 NFL draft for LeBaron. LeBaron became the first quarterback in the franchises history, he scored the first touchdown in Cowboys history in a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, and would go on two be the starter for most of his first three years. He eventually lost his job at the start of the 1963 season to Don Meredith, he spent his last season in Dallas as Meredith’s backup. He retired at the end of the 1963 season.

After football LeBaron would take a job with CBS sports as a football announcer from 1966-1971. In 1977 he became the General Manager for the Atlanta Falcons, holding that title through the 1982 season. LeBaron in his six years as the Falcons General Manager helped build a team that would qualify for the NFL playoffs three times, the first three playoff berths in the franchises history. He was named the Executive Vice-President of the Falcons in 1983 and served in that capacity for three years. He also earned a Law degree and practiced Law after retiring from football. Eddie LeBaron sadly passed away on April 1st, 2015, I find it a real shame that this news was pushed to the back of most sports pages. LeBaron was a real american hero, the kind of man others should aspire to be, he was a compassionate thoughtful man who achieved everything you could ever want to in life. He teaches you that you have to squeeze every second out of life because nobody lives forever, if  there was ever a man that was immortal it would have been Eddie LeBaron. In the end he was just a mortal man that achieved extraordinary things.

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