WSU and NFL star LaVern Torgeson dies

WASHINGTON STATE Hall of Famer LaVern "Torgy" Torgeson, a long-time NFL star with Detroit and Washington and then an assistant coach in the NFL for 35 years, passed away March 23 in Huntington Beach, Calif., his residence for the past 20 years. The news was relayed by his wife Nola (Carmichael) Torgeson, a 1955 graduate of WSU from Wenatchee.

Torgeson has the unique distinction of compiling the most storied championship resume of any Cougar ever to play pro football. He won two NFL titles as a player, in 1952 and '53 with the Detroit Lions, and then earned three Super Bowl rings as an assistant with the Washington Redskins 1983, '88 and '92.

Torgeson was born Feb. 28, 1929 in Lacrosse and after graduating from Lacrosse High, he traveled 40 miles east to star for Washington State in the late 1940s and early 1950s. After leaving WSU he joined the Lions and during his pro career was named All-Pro five times. He played four seasons with the Lions and then three with the Redskins.

In 1959, after a knee injury ended his playing career, Torgeson joined the Redskins' coaching staff and during his career, 1959-93, he coached with Washington 23 years, the Los Angeles Rams five years and Pittsburgh Steelers seven years.

In retirement Torgeson liked to play golf, fish and spend time with his nearby family, according to his wife. He was also active in church activities.

Torgeson earned All-Pacific Coast Conference and All-West Coast first-team honors as a senior in 1950 as a linebacker, the position he played in the pros. He also was a center for the Cougars. The night before his final game as a Cougar -- the Apple Cup in Spokane -- his brother Bob, who played basketball for WSU, died in a tragic accident. LaVern talked about that devastating blow in THIS interview with in 2007.

In 1979 he was inducted into the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame and in 1994 into the State of Washington Hall of Fame. He was a fifth-round pick in the 1951 NFL draft.

Among his head coaches in the NFL were George Allen and Joe Gibbs. The Redskins made five Super Bowl appearances while he was an assistant coach -- 1973 while a member of Allen’s staff and in 1983-1984-1988-1992 under Gibbs.

Torgeson is the second WSU Hall of Famer and NFL player from the 1950 Cougar team to pass away this year. In January, Spokane legend Bud Roffler died at age 84.

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