|Position:||Fullback, Linebacker, tackle|
|Born:||November 3, 1908|
Rainy River, Ontario, Canada
|Died:||January 7, 1990 81) (aged|
International Falls, Minnesota
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||226 lb (103 kg)|
|High school:|| Bemidji |
|As a player:|
|As a coach:|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at NFL.com|
Bronislau "Bronko" Nagurski (November 3, 1908 – January 7, 1990) was a Canadian-American professional American football player in the National Football League (NFL), renowned for his strength and size. Nagurski was also a successful professional wrestler,recognized as a multiple-time World Heavyweight Champion.
Nagurski became a standout playing both tackle on defense and fullback on offense at the University of Minnesota from 1927 to 1929, selected a consensus All-American in 1929 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in its inaugural year of 1951. His professional career with the Chicago Bears, which began in 1930 and ended on two occasions in 1937 and 1943, also made him an inaugural inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
Nagurski was born in Rainy River, Ontario, Canada, in a family of Ukrainian and Polish descent. His family moved to International Falls, Minnesota, when he was five years old. His parents, "Mike" and Michelina Nagurski, were immigrants from Galicia (now Western Ukraine). Nagurski grew up working on his parents' farm and sawmill, delivering groceries for his father's grocery store and in his teens laboring at nearby timbering operations, growing into a powerfully muscular six-footer.
Nagurski was discovered and signed by University of Minnesota head coach Clarence Spears, who drove to International Falls to meet another player. On the outside of town, he watched Nagurski out plowing a field without assistance. According to legend, Spears asked directions and Bronko lifted his plow and used it to point.He was signed on the spot to play for the Golden Gophers. Spears admitted he concocted the story on his long drive back to the university in Minneapolis.
Legends aside, on his first day of practice Spears decided to test Nagurski in the "Nutcracker" drill, where a defensive player had to take on two blockers and try to tackle a following ball carrier. On the first drill, two All-Big Ten linemen and Herb Joesting charged at Bronko, who promptly split the blockers and drove the big fullback into a blocking dummy. Spears sent in three more players, blew his whistle and watched Bronko produce the same explosive results and after a third try with the same conclusion realized what a super player he had recruited.
Nagurski became a standout playing both tackle on defense and fullback on offense at Minnesota from 1927 to 1929. In 1929, after posting 737 rushing yards, he was a consensus All-American at fullback, and despite playing fewer games at the position also made some All-American teams at tackle. The pre-eminent sportswriter of the day, Grantland Rice, listed him at the two positions in picking his 1929 All-America team. Rice later wrote, "Who would you pick to win a football game - 11 Jim Thorpes - 11 Glen Davises - 11 Red Granges - or 11 Bronko Nagurskis? The 11 Nagurskis would be a mop-up. It would be something close to murder and massacre. For the Bronk could star at any position on the field, with 216 pounds (98 kg) of authority to back him up."
His greatest collegiate game was against Wisconsin in the season finale in 1928. Wearing a corset to protect cracked vertebrae, he recovered a Badger fumble deep in their territory, then ran the ball six straight times to score the go-ahead touchdown. Later in the same game, he intercepted a pass to seal the victory.
During his three varsity seasons at Minnesota, the Gophers went 18–4–2 (.792) and won the Big Ten Conference championship in 1927. Nagurski was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.
While at the University of Minnesota, Nagurski was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity, at the same time as another All-American, Herb Joesting.
Nagurski turned professional to play for the Chicago Bears from 1930 to 1937. At 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) and 235 pounds (107 kg), he was a formidable presence, and in his day he was a dominant force, helping the Bears win several division titles and two NFL championships. He ended his eight-year stint with 3,947 rushing yards on 856 attempts, completed 36 of 80 passes, and scored a total of 236 points.
Nagurski had the largest recorded NFL Championship ring size at 19+1⁄2 and wore a size-8 helmet. He was probably the largest running back of his time, bigger than most linemen of the day, often dragging multiple tacklers with him. In a time when players were expected to play on both sides of the ball, he was a standout defensive lineman as well playing a ranging tackle or "The Monster." After an injury, instead of sitting on the bench, he would sometimes be put in as an offensive tackle. In a 1984 interview with Sports Illustrated writer Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman, when asked what position he would play if he were coming up in the present day, he said, "I would probably be a linebacker today. I wouldn't be carrying the ball 30 or 35 times a game."
A time-honored and perhaps apocryphal story about Nagurski is a scoring gallop that he made against the Washington Redskins, knocking two linebackers in opposite directions, stomping a defensive back and crushing a safety, then bouncing off the goalposts and cracking Wrigley Field's brick wall. On returning to the huddle for the extra point try, he reportedly said: "That last guy hit me awfully hard."
Once in a game against the Packers, the Bears prepared to punt, and Green Bay's Cal Hubbard went to Red Grange and said: "I promise not to try to block the kick, Red, but get out of the way so I can get a shot at that Polack." Grange, glad not to try to block Hubbard for once, obliged. Cal tore through the line, slammed into Nagurski and bounced off. Rising slowly, he turned to Grange and said: "Hey, Red, don't do me any more favors."
At the end of the 1932 season, the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans were tied with the best regular-season records. To determine the champion, the league voted to hold its first playoff game. Because of cold weather, the game was held indoors at Chicago Stadium, which forced some temporary rule changes. Chicago won, 9–0. In the fourth quarter of the 1932 game, the Bears scored on a controversial touchdown: Carl Brumbaugh handed the ball off to fullback Nagurski, who pulled up and threw to Red Grange in the end zone for the score.The Spartans argued that Nagurski did not drop back five yards before passing to Grange, but the touchdown stood. The playoff proved so popular that the league reorganized into two divisions for the 1933 season, with the winners advancing to a scheduled championship game. A number of new rule changes were also instituted: the goal posts were moved forward to the goal line, every play started from between the hash marks, and forward passes could originate from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage (instead of the previous five yards behind).
In 1943, with the Bears losing so many players to World War II, Nagurski came out of retirement to play tackle. He remained at the position until he returned to fullback against the Chicago Cardinals, whom the Bears needed to defeat to advance to the 1943 NFL Championship Game;Nagurski scored a touchdown in the game as the Bears won 35–24. Chicago went on to win the 1943 title after beating the Washington Redskins 41–21, while Nagurski scored on a three-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
He retired again after the 1943 season and became the backfield coach for the UCLA Bruins.After one year, he resigned from his position with the Bruins to return to farming. Two years later he returned to football for a brief time as general manager of the Sylvan Park Dead Cherokees, a semi-pro team in Tennessee.
During his football career, he built a second athletic career as a professional wrestler and became a major box-office attraction. Tony Stecher, brother of former world champion Joe Stecher, introduced Nagurski to wrestling in 1933 and became his manager. Nagurski defeated Tag Tagerson in his ring debut. Hitting his peak in the late 1930s, Nagurski won a limited version of the world championship by defeating Dean Detton on June 29, 1937. But he finally achieved full recognition with his first National Wrestling Association world title by defeating Lou Thesz on June 23, 1939. Losing the title to Ray Steele on March 7, 1940, he regained it from Steele one year later on March 11, 1941, but lost it three months later to Sandor Szabo on June 5, 1941.Nagurski continued to wrestle until 1960.
Nagurski married his childhood sweetheart, Eileen Kane, on December 28, 1936. The couple had six children: sons Bronko Jr., Tony, Ronald and Kevin, and daughters Genie and Janice.Bronko Jr. was born on Christmas Day 1937, played football at the University of Notre Dame, and became an all-star with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.
After Nagurski's retirement from wrestling, he returned home to International Falls and opened a service station.A local legend claims that Nagurski had the best repeat business in town because he would screw customers' gas caps on so tightly after filling their tanks that no one else in town could unscrew them. He retired from that in 1978, at the age of seventy, and lived out a quiet life on the shores of Rainy Lake on the Canada–U.S. border.
In January 1984, Nagurski performed the coin toss at Super Bowl XVIII in Tampa, Florida, with Washington Redskins quarterback and co-captain Joe Theismann calling the toss on behalf of his team's co-captains and the captains of the opposing Los Angeles Raiders.
On January 7, 1990, Nagurski died of cardiac arrest in International Falls, Minnesota, and is buried at its Forest Hill Cemetery.
Nagurski was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a charter member on September 7, 1963. At the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities house of his fraternity, Sigma Chi, Nagurski's jersey and Significant Sig recognition certificate are on display. After his death, the town of International Falls honored him by opening the Bronko Nagurski Museum in Smokey Bear Park.
Sports Illustrated named Nagurski one of the four greatest athletes in Minnesota state history; the other three were Dave Winfield, Kevin McHale, and Joe Mauer. In 1993, the Football Writers Association of America created the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded annually to the best defensive player in college football. Notable winners include Warren Sapp, Charles Woodson, Terrell Suggs, Champ Bailey and Derrick Johnson. In 1999 Nagurski was selected by Sports Illustrated as a starting defensive tackle for their "NCAA Football All-Century Team". The other starting defensive tackle on that list was Rich Glover. In 2007, Nagurski was ranked No. 17 on ESPN's Top 25 Players In College Football History list.
In 1999, he was ranked No. 35 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, the highest-ranking foreign-born player. In 2000, he was voted the second-greatest Minnesotan sportsman of the 20th century by the sportswriters of the Star Tribune , coming in behind only Minnesota Twins Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett.
A fictionalized eyewitness account of Nagurski's 1943 comeback is the subject of a dramatic monologue in the 2001 film version of Hearts in Atlantis. The film's screenwriter, William Goldman, repeated much of this rendition from his earlier account of the same story in his novel Magic.
In 2009, Nagurski was an honorary team captain, represented by his son, Bronko Nagurski Jr., at the opening game of TCF Bank Stadium. His home town International Falls high school nickname is the Broncos in his honor.
A running back (RB) is a member of the offensive backfield in gridiron football. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback to rush the ball, to line up as a receiver to catch the ball, and block. There are usually one or two running backs on the field for a given play, depending on the offensive formation. A running back may be a halfback, a wingback or a fullback. A running back will sometimes be called a "feature back" if he is the team's starting running back.
Laverne Clarence Gagne was an American amateur and professional wrestler, football player, wrestling trainer, and wrestling promoter. He was the owner and promoter of the Minneapolis-based American Wrestling Association (AWA), the predominant promotion throughout the Midwest and Manitoba for many years. He remained in this position until 1991, when the company folded.
Ernest Ladd, nicknamed "The Big Cat", was an American professional football player and professional wrestler. A standout athlete in high school, Ladd attended Grambling State University on a basketball scholarship before being drafted in 1961 by the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League (AFL). Ladd found success in the AFL as one of the largest players in professional football history at 6′9″ and 290 pounds.
Leo Joseph Nomellini was an Italian-American Hall of Fame American football offensive and defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers and professional wrestler. He played college football for Minnesota, and was a three-time tag team champion in wrestling.
William Clarke Hinkle was an American football player. He played on offense as a fullback, defense as a linebacker, and special teams as a kicker and punter. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of its second class of inductees in 1964.
The 1932 NFL Playoff Game was an extra game held to break a tie in the 1932 season's final standings in the National Football League. It matched the host Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans. Because of snowfall and anticipated extremely cold temperatures in Chicago, Illinois, it was moved indoors and played at the three-year-old Chicago Stadium on December 18 on a reduced-size field on Sunday night.
Herbert Walter Joesting was an American football player and coach. He was a consensus All-American fullback while playing for the Minnesota Golden Gophers in both 1926 and 1927. He also played three seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.
Raymond Albert Nolting was an American football halfback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL), as well as a college football head coach. He played college football at the University of Cincinnati, before spending six seasons with the Bears. He rushed for over 2,000 yards, and had over 500 receiving yards before retiring in 1943. He was a member of Chicago Bears NFL Championship teams in 1940, 1941 and 1943 and selected to the Pro Bowl twice. In the 1940 Bears' 73–0 rout of the Washington Redskins, Nolting rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown and intercepted a Sammy Baugh pass. From 1945 to 1948, he coached at Cincinnati, where he compiled a 23–15–1 record.
The 1930 season was the Chicago Bears' 11th in the National Football League. The team was able to improve on their 4–9–2 record from 1929 and finished with a 9–4–1 record under first-year head coach Ralph Jones. Jones, a former player, led the team to recover from its ninth-place finish to a respectable third-place finish. The season started badly with a 1–2–1 record over the first four games, the only win coming against the hapless Minneapolis Redjackets. After splitting games five and six, the Bears got their winning ways back, finishing the season with 5 straight wins and 7 wins in their last 8 games. The only loss those last 8 games was to eventual champion Green Bay. The secret to the Bears' success was new talent in the backfield. All-American and rookie Bronko Nagurski starred at fullback while living legend Red Grange starred at tailback. These two future Hall of Famers combined for 13 touchdowns overall. Luke Johnsos, in his second year, also starred at the end. The makings of future championships were in place.
The 1932 season was the Chicago Bears' 13th in the National Football League. The team was able to improve on their 9–4–1 record from 1931 and finished with a 7–1–6 record under third-year head coach Ralph Jones.
The 1943 season was the Chicago Bears' 24th in the National Football League. The team failed to match on their 11–0 record from 1942 and finished at 8–1–1, under temporary co-coaches Hunk Anderson and Luke Johnsos. On the way to winning the Western Division, the Bears were, yet again, denied a chance at an undefeated season by the defending champion Redskins in Washington. The Bears had their revenge in the NFL title game and defeated the Redskins at Wrigley Field to claim their sixth league title. It was their third championship in four years, establishing themselves as the pro football dynasty of the early 1940s.
The 1933 season was the Chicago Bears' 14th in the National Football League and the 11th season under head coach George Halas. The team was able to improve on their 7–1–6 record from 1932 and finished with a 10–2–1
The 1934 season was the Chicago Bears' 15th in the National Football League and 12th season under head coach George Halas. The team was able to improve on their 10–2–1 record from 1933 and finished with an undefeated 13–0 record.
The 1935 season was the Chicago Bears' 16th in the National Football League and 13th season under head coach George Halas. The team was unable to match on their 13–0 record from 1934 and finished with a 6–4–2 record and finishing in a tie for third place in the Western Division, and failed to return to the championship game. The Bears had little trouble with the weaker teams in the league, led the league in scoring, and occasionally showed signs of brilliance against top-flight competition, but for the most part, they were outclassed by the Lions, Packers, and Giants. The biggest problem was the veterans from the 1920s had largely retired or were past their prime but not enough young talent had emerged to offset these losses. In particular, the retirement of Link Lyman and Red Grange hurt the team, especially on defense. Additionally, Bronko Nagurski and Bill Hewitt were injured for large portions of the season and could not play to their normal level.
The 1937 Chicago Bears season was their 18th regular season completed in the National Football League. The Bears started the season fast, winning their first five games, three of them on the road. After a tie to the Giants and a loss to the Packers, the Bears finished the season strong, winning their last four games. The team was second in scoring offense, behind Green Bay, and led the league in scoring defense.
LeRoy Erwin "Ace" Gutowsky was a Russian-American professional American football fullback. He played professional football for eight years from 1932 to 1939 and set the NFL career rushing record in October 1939. He held the Detroit Lions' career and single-season rushing records until the 1960s.
Luther Jacob Goodall was an American professional football player and wrestler, known by his ringname Luther Lindsay or Lindsey, who competed throughout the United States with the National Wrestling Alliance as well as international promotions such as All Japan Pro Wrestling, Joint Promotions and Stampede Wrestling.
The Colgate Raiders football team represents Colgate University in NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) college football competition as a member of the Patriot League.
The 1932 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1932 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, seven of the eight NFL coaches for the Associated Press (AP), the United Press, and Collyer's Eye (CE).