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Tales from the Cigars & Curveballs podcast: Jean Fugett

Jean Fugett was a Pro Bowl tight end and one of those few unique NFL players who played both for the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins.

Fugett was drafted by the Cowboys in the 13th round in 1972 and then, in that brief window of free agency in 1976, signed as a free agent by the Redskins.

He was George Allen’s kind of player – smart (he played football at Amherst College) and a leader, a player representative during his time in Dallas. When he came to Washington, Fugett would go to night school at George Washington to get his law degree.

But while he was playing, Fugett wasn’t sure that he wanted to be a lawyer or a journalist.

It was that interest in journalism that Redskins owner Edward Bennett Williams and Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee used to help convince Fugett to come to Washington, according to what Fugett told me in the latest edition of my “Cigars & Curveballs” podcast.

“While I was at the Cowboys I had a weekly column in the Dallas Cowboys weekly,” he said. “I also had a radio show that was a jazz program that was pre-recorded that aired Monday through Friday on KERA FM, the NPR station. I was very interested in media. I had been the executive editor at the Amherst student (paper). I was the first African-American reporter in the history of the Baltimore (Morning) Sun as an intern while I was in college. I thought my future was going to be in journalism or law.

“After the Super Bowl I got a call from the Washington Post asking me if I was interested in interning,” he said. “I flew up. I was interviewed, and they offered me a position. So when my ego subsided I went to Ben Bradlee, the famous editor of the Washington Post and asked, ‘Mr. Bradlee, did the Redskins put you up to this?’ He laughed, and at that time I told him, ‘I’ll probably know who Deep Throat is before you tell me the truth on that.’ He laughed again.

“Years later – a year before he died – they invited all the reporters back to the old press room when Jeffrey Bezos bought the paper from the Graham family,” Fugett said “There was Ben Bradlee, it was so good to see him. I said, ‘Come on, tell me the truth.’ And my son has it on videotape. He finally said that Edward Bennett Williams put him up to hiring me. He said, ‘But you were a good reporter.’

“I signed with the Post in February and I signed with the Redskins in May.”

Here is the link to the full conversation with Jean Fugett about George Allen, Tom Landry, Vince Lombardi, Earl Weaver and more on the Cigars & Curveballs podcast:

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