LaVern Torgeson

Last updated
LaVern Torgeson
No. 53
Position: Linebacker, center
Personal information
Born:(1929-02-28)February 28, 1929
La Crosse, Washington
Died:March 20, 2015(2015-03-20) (aged 86)
Huntington Beach, California
Career information
College: Washington State
NFL Draft: 1951  / Round:  5  / Pick: 58
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:82
Interceptions:18
Touchdowns:1
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

LaVern Earl "Torgy" Torgeson (February 28, 1929 – March 20, 2015) was an American football player and coach. He played college football for Washington State from 1948 through 1950. Torgeson played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons, principally as a linebacker, for the Detroit Lions from 1951 to 1954 and for the Washington Redskins from 1955 to 1957. [1]

Contents

After retiring as a player, Torgeson worked for 35 years from 1959 to 1993 as an assistant coach in the NFL. His coaching positions included stints with the Washington Redskins (1959–1961, 1971–1977, 1981–1993), Pittsburgh Steelers (1962–1968), and Los Angeles Rams (1969–1970, 1978–1980). He was a coach on three Super Bowl championship teams in 1982, 1987, and 1991. As a player and coach, he spent 42 years in the NFL, 26 of them with the Redskins.

Early years

Torgeson was born in La Crosse, Washington, a small town in the eastern part of the state, and attended La Crosse High School, [2] and excelled in football, basketball, and baseball. [1]

College football

After graduating from high school in 1947, Torgeson enrolled at nearby Washington State College in Pullman, where he played college football on the Cougars' varsity from 1948 through 1950. [3] [4] He played on both offense as a center and on defense as a linebacker. [5] Torgeson was the team captain in 1950, [4] and he was selected by the Associated Press (AP) as the first-team center on the All-Coast team. [6] [7]

The morning of Torgeson's final game as a Cougar, the annual rivalry game with Washington in Spokane, his younger brother Robert, a sophomore at Washington State, died from carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping in a parked car after traveling from Pullman to watch the game. [8] [9] [10]

Professional football

Torgeson was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round (58th overall pick) of the 1951 NFL Draft. [2] As a rookie, he appeared in all 12 games for the Lions, playing at both the linebacker and center positions. [2] From 1952 to 1954, he played at the right linebacker position for the Lions. During the Lions' NFL championship seasons in 1952 and 1953, he had ten interceptions, including a 31-yard interception return for touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams on October 19, 1952. [11]

In late January 1955, the Lions traded Torgeson and Jim Hill to the Washington Redskins in exchange for Walt Yowarsky and Jim Ricca. [12] [13] Torgeson played for the Redskins from 1955 to 1957, appearing in 35 games. [2] He was released by the team in September 1958. [14]

Coaching career

In September 1959, Toregson announced that he was retiring as a player and had been hired as an assistant coach with the Redskins. [15] He was with the Redskins from 1959 to 1961.

In January 1962, Torgeson left the Redskins to become an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers under his former Lions head coach Buddy Parker. [16] He remained with the Steelers from 1962 to 1968.

In February 1969, Torgeson was hired by the Los Angeles Rams as their defensive line coach under head coach George Allen. He remained with the Rams for the 1969 and 1970 seasons. In those two years under Allen and Torgeson, the Rams compiled a 20–7–1 record.

In 1971, Allen left the Rams to become head coach of the Washington Redskins. Torgeson followed Allen and became the Rams' defensive coordinator from 1971 to 1977. [17] During seven seasons under Allen and Torgeson, the Redskins compiled a 67–30–1 record; they won the conference title in 1972 (but lost Super Bowl VII to the Miami Dolphins in January 1973).

In February 1978, Allen returned to the Los Angeles Rams, and Torgeson followed him as an assistant coach, [18] but Allen was fired in mid-August. [19] [20] Torgeson remained with the Rams under newly-promoted head coach Ray Malavasi for three years, through the 1980 season. They compiled a 12–4 record in 1978, won the NFC championship in 1979 (but lost Super Bowl XIV in January 1980), and were 11–5 in 1980.

In February 1981, Torgeson returned to the Redskins as defensive line coach. [21] He remained with the Redskins for 13 years, through the 1993 season. He was an assistant under head coaches Joe Gibbs from 1981 to 1992 and Richie Petitbon in 1993. During his tenure with the Redskins, the team won Super Bowl XVII in 1983, Super Bowl XXII in 1988, and Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, and lost Super Bowl XVIII in 1984. When Norv Turner took over as head coach of the Redskins in early 1994, Torgeson and several other assistant coaches were dismissed. [22]

Torgeson concluded his coaching career as the defensive coordinator and linebacker coach for the Frankfurt Galaxy in  1996. [5]

Later years

After retiring from coaching, Torgeson lived with his wife Nola (Carmichael) Torgeson in Huntington Beach, California. [3] In 1970, he was inducted into the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame. [4] He was also inducted into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. [23] Torgeson died in 2015 at age 86 in Huntington Beach. [1] [2]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Torgeson, Ted (April 8, 2015). "LaVern Torgeson dies at 86". Whitman County Gazette. (Colfax, Washington). (obituary). Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "LaVern Torgeson". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  3. 1 2 "WSU and NFL star LaVern Torgeson dies". scout.com. March 27, 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 "WSU Athletic Hall of Fame Members". Washington State University. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  5. 1 2 Don Shelton (December 29, 1997). "Player Profile -- 'Torgy' Torgeson -- Torgeson Found Success As NFL Player, Coach". The Seattle Times.
  6. "Rose Bowl bound California Bears top All-Coast football consensus". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. December 6, 1950. p. 19.
  7. "Coast Stars Named By Platoon System". Idaho State Journal. December 5, 1950. p. 6.
  8. "WSC student asphyxiated; 2 are revived". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). November 25, 1950. p. 1.
  9. "Tragedy strikes player's family". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). November 26, 1950. p. 6.
  10. "Brother Lavern Torgeson, WSC Captain, Misses Finale: Tragedy Claims Cougar Hooper, Jolts Gridmen". The Oregon Statesman. November 26, 1950. p. 18 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  11. Bob Latshaw (October 21, 1952). "Flanagan Holds Key to Victory: 2-Way Blocking Sets Up Torgeson Touchdown". Detroit Free Press. p. 24 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  12. Fullerton, Hugh, Jr. (January 29, 1955). "Torgeson is traded, NFL changes rules". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. p. 9.
  13. Bob Latshaw (January 29, 1955). "Lions Trade Hill, Torgy to Redskins". Detroit Free Press. p. 11.
  14. "'Skins drop ex-Cougar". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). September 24, 1958. p. 21.
  15. "Torgeson Chosen to Redskins Coaching Job". Shamokin (PA) News Dispatch. September 22, 1959. p. 6 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  16. "Torgeson Joins Steeler Staff". The Daily News (Huntingdon, PA). January 23, 1962. p. 4 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  17. "LaVern Torgeson Coaching Record". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  18. "Allen Names 6 Assistants at Los Angeles". The Des Moines Register. February 8, 1970. p. 4S via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  19. "Rams release George Allen". Youngstown Vindicator. (Ohio). Associated Press. August 14, 1978. p. 14.
  20. "LA's firing shocks Allen". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. August 14, 1978. p. 1C.
  21. "for the record". Detroit Free Press. February 4, 1981. p. 2D via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  22. "Redskins fire Charley Taylor". The Star-Democrat. March 2, 1994. p. 2B.
  23. "Hall of Fame Categories: Football". State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 11, 2016. Retrieved March 10, 2016.