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Redskins Great Eddie LeBaron Passes Away At 85

Posted Apr 1, 2015

Redskins great quarterback Eddie LeBaron -- a four-time Pro Bowl selection and Korean War veteran -- passed away Wednesday at the age of 85.

Redskins great quarterback Eddie LeBaron -- a four-time Pro Bowl selection and Korean War veteran -- passed away Wednesday at the age of 85.

LeBaron -- who was voted one of the 70 Greatest Redskins -- played for Washington from 1952-53 and 1955-59 -- garnered the nickname "The Lil' General" after he was able to overcome his 5-foot-7 frame to excel both in the college ranks at Pacific, and later in D.C.

LeBaron was born and raised in California, where he attended the University of the Pacific despite originally committing to Stanford University.

In his freshman season at Pacific, LeBaron was coached by the legendary Alonzo Stagg. He would lead the Tigers to an undefeated 11-0 record. In nine of those 11 victories, LeBaron and Co. scored at least 45 points. After stringing together a series of prolific performances, LeBaron garnished national attention and Heisman Trophy talk.

Because of his diminutive stature in comparison to his colleagues, professional franchises steer cleared of the quarterback in fear that his lack of size was going to negate his peerless skillset. The Washington Redskins, however, weren’t one of those teams, taking him in the 10th round of the 1950 NFL Draft.

Despite his raving reviews as a football player, the California native had a different post-college career in mind: serving in the Korean War.

After a two-year stint overseas serving his country -- including receiving the Purple Heart -- LeBaron return to the Redskins in 1952 ready to get back to the game that he loved. 4765_007

In his rookie season, LeBaron was second on the quarterback depth chart behind Sammy Baugh. The 1963 Hall of Fame inductee was entering the last of his 16 seasons with the Redskins.

LeBaron, however, still saw regular game action both as a quarterback and the team’s primary punter. He would throw 14 touchdown passes on the season and punt for more than 2,000 yards. Numbers that earned him a nod on the NFL’s All-Rookie Team.

Part of LeBaron’s magic behind throwing a team-high 14 touchdown passes was his uncanny ability to “hide” the football from defenses.

Offensive lineman Jim Ricca said it best of his fake out skills in The Redskins Encyclopedia.

“Eddie was a magician with the ball. You never knew who had the ball, he was so slick," Ricca said. "I remember one time three different players on the defensive line got confused and all of a sudden Eddie’s standing in the end zone with the ball. He rolled out and had the ball on his hip, and he was gone. He was elusive and tricky, and he was so short that people couldn’t really see him.”

Despite the fact LeBaron had established himself as a capable quarterback at the professional level, head coach Curly Lambeau was still unsure of whether he was the best option for the team under center moving forward. As a result, LeBaron bolted to the Canadian Football League for one season before returning in 1955 under new head coach Joe Kuharich.

LeBaron would start eight games upon his return to the States and was honored with the first of four Pro Bowl appearances.

In 1959, after a seven-year career with the Washington Redskins, LeBaron decided to hang up his helmet in pursuit of a career in law. During his time away from the field, LeBaron had taken classes at George Washington University Law School to prep himself for a third career.

He’s career path steered towards a law firm in the heart of Texas, but after a quick reroute he found himself in Dallas — on the expansion Cowboys, where he officially ended his career after four seasons.

Associate writer Stephen Czarda contributed to this report.

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