Chicago College All-Star Game

Last updated
College All-Star Football Classic (defunct)
Chicago Charities College All-Star Game
Program cover for 1941 game
Stadium Soldier Field (1934–42, 1945–76)
Dyche Stadium (1943–44)
Location Chicago (1934–42, 1945–76)
Evanston, Illinois (1943–44)

The Chicago Charities College All-Star Game was a preseason American football game played from 1934 to 1976 between the National Football League (NFL) champions and a team of star college seniors from the previous year. It was also known as the College All-Star Football Classic. [1]

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

National Football League Professional American football league

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.

College football collegiate rules version of American/Canadian football, played by student-athletes of American/Canadian colleges and universities

College football is American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities. It was through college football play that American football rules first gained popularity in the United States.


The game was contested annually — except for 1974, due to that year's NFL strike — and was played in July, August, or September. The second game, played in 1935, involved the hometown Chicago Bears, runner-up of the 1934 season, instead of the defending champion New York Giants. The New York Jets played in the 1969 edition, although still an American Football League (AFL) team, as once the AFL-NFL Championship was introduced (including for the two seasons before the "Super Bowl" designation was officially adopted and the remaining two seasons before the AFL–NFL merger) the Super Bowl winner was the professional team involved, regardless of which league the team represented.

The 1934 NFL season was the 15th regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, the Portsmouth Spartans moved from Ohio to Detroit, Michigan, and were renamed the Detroit Lions.

The 1935 New York Giants season was the franchise's 11th season in the National Football League.

History of the game

The game was the idea of Arch Ward, the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and the driving force behind baseball's All-Star Game. [1] The game originally was a benefit for Chicago-area charities and was always played at Soldier Field, with the exception of two years during World War II, 1943 and 1944, when it was held at Northwestern University's Dyche Stadium in Evanston.

Arch Ward was the sports editor for the Chicago Tribune and personal friend of the owner, Robert R. McCormick. He created the MLB All-Star Game, the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), the Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament and the College All-Star Game. Ward was twice offered the job as commissioner of the National Football League. He later feuded with the owners of the league and started the AAFC. He was involved in conservative political causes and as well as the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Ward was considered a dynamo with powerful contacts in American politics, church matters and journalism. In 1990, Thomas B. Littlewood wrote a biography of Arch titled "Arch: A Promoter Not a Poet- The Story of Arch Ward"

<i>Chicago Tribune</i> major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, United States

The Chicago Tribune is a daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, United States, owned by Tribune Publishing. Founded in 1847, and formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper", it remains the most-read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region. It is the eighth-largest newspaper in the United States by circulation.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.

The Chicago game was one of several "pro vs. rookie" college all-star games held across the United States in its early years (the 1939 season featured seven such games, all of which the NFL teams won in shutouts, and the season prior featured eight, with some of the collegiate players playing in multiple games). Chicago's game had the benefit of being the highest profile, with the NFL champions facing the best college graduates from across the country as opposed to the regional games that were held elsewhere. Because of this, the game survived far longer than its contemporaries.

The 1939 NFL season was the 20th regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, NFL president Joseph Carr died, and Carl Storck was named to replace him.

The 1938 NFL season was the 19th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended when the New York Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game.

A football signed by the members of the 1935 Collegiate All-Star Team, including Gerald Ford. 1935 All-Star Collegiate Football (1989.222).jpg
A football signed by the members of the 1935 Collegiate All-Star Team, including Gerald Ford.

The inaugural game in 1934, played before a crowd of 79,432 on August 31, was a scoreless tie between the all-stars and the Chicago Bears. The following year, in a game that included University of Michigan graduate and future president Gerald Ford, the Bears won 5–0. The first all-star team to win was the 1937 squad, coached by Gus Dorais, which won 6–0 over Curly Lambeau's Green Bay Packers. The only score came on a 47-yard touchdown pass from future Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh to Gaynell Tinsley. [2] Baugh's Washington Redskins lost to the All-Stars the next year, but he did not play due to injury. [3]

Michigan Wolverines football football team of the University of Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines football program represents the University of Michigan in college football at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level. Michigan has the most all-time wins in college football history. The team is known for its distinctive winged helmet, its fight song, its record-breaking attendance figures at Michigan Stadium, and its many rivalries, particularly its annual, regular-season-ending game against Ohio State, once voted as ESPN's best sports rivalry.

Gerald Ford 38th president of the United States

Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. was an American politician who served as the 38th president of the United States from August 1974 to January 1977. Before his accession to the presidency, Ford served as the 40th vice president of the United States from December 1973 to August 1974. Ford is the only person to have served as both vice president and president without being elected to either office by the United States Electoral College.

Gus Dorais American football player and coach, basketball coach, baseball coach

Charles Emile "Gus" Dorais was an American football player, coach, and athletic administrator.

In the 1940s, the games were competitive affairs that attracted large crowds to Soldier Field. The college all-stars had the benefit of being fully integrated, since the NFL's league-wide color barrier did not apply to the squad, meaning black players such as Kenny Washington (who played in the 1940 contest) were allowed to play in the game. As the talent level of pro football improved (and the NFL itself integrated), the pros came to dominate the series.

Kenny Washington (American football) American football player

Kenneth S. "Kenny" Washington was a professional football player who was the first African-American to sign a contract with a National Football League team in the modern era.

The qualifying criteria for the College All-Star squad was loose, as the 1945 game featured Tom Harmon, who had begun his professional career in 1941 but had been interrupted by military service. [4] The all-stars last won consecutive games in 1946 and 1947, and won only four of the final 29 games. The Philadelphia Eagles fell in 1950, [5] the Cleveland Browns in 1955, [6] and the Detroit Lions in 1958. [7] The last all-star win came in 1963, when a college team coached by legendary quarterback Otto Graham beat Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, 20–17. [8]

In 1949, Ward, who by this time had founded the competing All-America Football Conference, attempted to have that league's champion - the perennially winning Browns - play that year's game instead of the NFL champion, but after the NFL threatened legal action, the Tribune board overruled Ward and renewed its agreement with the NFL. [9]

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, enthusiasm for the game started to erode as NFL coaches had become increasingly reluctant to let their new draftees play in the exhibition due to their being forced miss part of training camp, and their draftees being at considerable risk for injury; as early as 1949, these concerns had been raised after Dick Rifenburg suffered a serious knee injury practicing for the game, effectively ending his professional career before it began, and prompting Rifenburg's move into broadcasting. [10]

A player's strike forced the cancellation of the 1974 game. Although the league went forward with the rest of its preseason, they needed access to as many rookies as possible for replacement players to replace the striking veterans and players who defected to the World Football League, leaving the unable to spare any to play the college all-stars.

The league itself was withdrawing from competition against teams that were not members of the league at this time. The College All-Star Game was the last ever contest in which an NFL team played a team from outside the league, with only two other games, a 1969 match against a Continental Football League team and a 1972 split-squad match against a Seaboard Football League team, both major blowout wins for the NFL teams, being played in this time frame.

The final game took place in 1976 during a torrential downpour at Soldier Field on July 23. [11] Despite featuring stars such as Chuck Muncie, Mike Pruitt, Lee Roy Selmon, and Jackie Slater, the all-stars were hopelessly outmatched by the Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of Super Bowl X. The star quarterback for the College All-Stars was Steeler draft pick Mike Kruczek out of Boston College.

With 1:22 remaining in the third quarter and the Steelers leading 24–0, high winds and lightning prompted all-stars coach Ara Parseghian to call for a time out. Fans subsequently invaded the field and began sliding on the turf, and with the rain continuing to fall heavily, the officials ordered both teams to their locker rooms.

Despite the efforts of officials, security and Chicago Police, all attempts to clear the field failed, and a group of drunk fans tore down the goalposts at the southern end of the stadium. However, by this time, the torrential rain had left parts of the field under 18 inches of water, meaning it would have been unplayable in any event.

At 11:01pm, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and the Tribune announced that the game had been called. The news was greeted with jeers, and numerous brawls broke out on the flooded field before order was finally restored. Joe Washington of Oklahoma was selected MVP of the final College All-Star game. [12]

While Chicago Tribune Charities had every intention of staging a 1977 game, a combination of NFL coaches being increasingly unwilling to let their high draft picks play, rising insurance costs and higher player salaries meant the game was no longer viable. The Tribune announced on December 21, 1976, that the game would be discontinued. [13]

In the 42 College All-Star Games, the defending pro champions won 31, the All-Stars won nine, and two were ties, giving the collegians a .238 winning percentage.

One aspect of the College All-Star Game was later revived: the concept of the league champion playing in the first game of the season was adopted in 2004 with the National Football League Kickoff game. Since then, the first game of the regular season is hosted by the defending Super Bowl champion.

The game raised over $4 million for charity over the course of its 42-game run. [14]

Game results

All games played at Soldier Field in Chicago, except for the 1943 and 1944 games, which were played at Dyche Stadium in Evanston, Illinois.

YearDateWinning teamLosing teamAttendanceSeries
1934August 31College All-Stars0 Chicago Bears 079,432Tied 0–0–1
1935August 29 Chicago Bears 5College All-Stars077,450NFL 1–0–1
1936September 2College All-Stars7 Detroit Lions 776,000NFL 1–0–2
1937September 1College All-Stars [2] 6 Green Bay Packers 084,560Tied 1–1–2
1938August 31College All-Stars [3] 28 Washington Redskins 1674,250Colleges 2–1–2
1939August 30 New York Giants 9College All-Stars081,456Tied 2–2–2
1940August 29 Green Bay Packers 45College All-Stars2884,567NFL 3–2–2
1941August 28 Chicago Bears 37College All-Stars1398,203NFL 4–2–2
1942August 28 Chicago Bears 21College All-Stars0101,103NFL 5–2–2
1943August 28College All-Stars27 Washington Redskins 748,437NFL 5–3–2
1944August 30 Chicago Bears 24College All-Stars2149,246NFL 6–3–2
1945August 30 Green Bay Packers 19College All-Stars792,753NFL 7–3–2
1946August 23College All-Stars16 Los Angeles Rams 097,380NFL 7–4–2
1947August 22College All-Stars16 Chicago Bears 0105,840NFL 7–5–2
1948August 22 Chicago Cardinals 28College All-Stars0101,220NFL 8–5–2
1949August 22 Philadelphia Eagles 38College All-Stars093,780NFL 9–5–2
1950August 11College All-Stars [5] 17 Philadelphia Eagles 788,885NFL 9–6–2
1951August 17 Cleveland Browns 33College All-Stars092,180NFL 10–6–2
1952August 15 Los Angeles Rams 10College All-Stars788,316NFL 11–6–2
1953August 14 Detroit Lions 24College All-Stars1093,818NFL 12–6–2
1954August 13 Detroit Lions 31College All-Stars693,470NFL 13–6–2
1955August 12College All-Stars [6] 30 Cleveland Browns 2775,000NFL 13–7–2
1956August 10 Cleveland Browns 26College All-Stars075,000NFL 14–7–2
1957August 9 New York Giants 22College All-Stars1275,000NFL 15–7–2
1958August 15College All-Stars [7] 35 Detroit Lions 1970,000NFL 15–8–2
1959August 14 Baltimore Colts 29College All-Stars070,000NFL 16–8–2
1960August 12 Baltimore Colts 32College All-Stars770,000NFL 17–8–2
1961August 4 Philadelphia Eagles [15] 28College All-Stars1466,000NFL 18–8–2
1962August 3 Green Bay Packers [16] 42College All-Stars2065,000NFL 19–8–2
1963August 2College All-Stars [8] 20 Green Bay Packers 1765,000NFL 19–9–2
1964August 7 Chicago Bears [17] 28College All-Stars1765,000NFL 20–9–2
1965August 6 Cleveland Browns [18] 24College All-Stars1668,000NFL 21–9–2
1966August 5 Green Bay Packers [19] 38College All-Stars072,000NFL 22–9–2
1967August 4 Green Bay Packers [20] 27College All-Stars070,934NFL 23–9–2
1968August 2 Green Bay Packers [21] 34College All-Stars1769,917NFL 24–9–2
1969August 1 New York Jets [22] 26College All-Stars2474,208NFL 25–9–2
1970July 31 Kansas City Chiefs [23] 24College All-Stars369,940NFL 26–9–2
1971July 30 Baltimore Colts [24] 24College All-Stars1752,289NFL 27–9–2
1972July 28 Dallas Cowboys [25] 20College All-Stars754,162NFL 28–9–2
1973July 27 Miami Dolphins [26] 14College All-Stars354,103NFL 29–9–2
1974July 26Canceled due to 1974 NFL strike
Game was originally scheduled between the Miami Dolphins and College All-Stars
1975August 1 Pittsburgh Steelers [27] 21College All-Stars1454,562NFL 30–9–2
1976July 23 1 Pittsburgh Steelers 24College All-Stars052,095NFL 31–9–2

1Game was called with 1:22 left in 3rd quarter because of lightning storm and torrential rain. [11] [12]

Franchise records

Listed by number of appearances

FranchiseGamesWinsLossesTiesPct.Winning YearsNon-wins
Green Bay Packers 8620.7501940, 1945, 1962,
1966, 1967, 1968
1937, 1963
Chicago Bears 7511.7861935, 1941,
1942, 1944, 1964
1934, 1947
Cleveland Browns 4310.7501951, 1956, 19651955
Detroit Lions 4211.6251953, 19541936, 1958
Baltimore Colts 33001.000 1959, 1960, 1971
Philadelphia Eagles 3210.6671949, 19611950
New York Giants 22001.000 1939, 1957
Pittsburgh Steelers 22001.000 1975, 1976
Los Angeles Rams 2110.50019521946
Washington Redskins 2020.0001938, 1943
Chicago Cardinals 11001.000 1948
New York Jets 11001.000 1969
Kansas City Chiefs 11001.000 1970
Dallas Cowboys 11001.000 1972
Miami Dolphins 11001.000 1973


The Most Valuable Player award was given from 1938 through 1973 and was always awarded to a player on the College All-Stars

1938 Cecil Isbell Running back Purdue
1939 Bill Osmanski Running back Holy Cross
1940 Ambrose Schindler Running back USC
1941George FranckRunning back Minnesota
1942 Bruce Smith Running back Minnesota
1943 Pat Harder Running back Wisconsin
1944 Glenn Dobbs Running back Tulsa
1945 Charley Trippi [28] Multiple Georgia
1946 Elroy Hirsch Running back Wisconsin
1947 Claude Young Running back Illinois
1948Jay RodemeyerRunning back Kentucky
1949 Bill Fischer Offensive lineman Notre Dame
1950 Charlie Justice Running back North Carolina
1951 Lewis McFadin Multiple Texas
1952 Babe Parilli Quarterback Kentucky
1953 Gib Dawson Multiple Texas
1954Carlton Massey Defensive end Texas
1955 Ralph Guglielmi Quarterback Notre Dame
1956 Bob Pellegrini Linebacker Maryland
1957 John Brodie Quarterback Stanford
1958 Bobby Mitchell Halfback/Wide receiver Illinois
Jim Ninowski Quarterback Michigan State
1959 Bob Ptacek Running back Michigan
1960Jim LeoEnd Cincinnati
1961 Billy Kilmer Quarterback UCLA
1962 John Hadl Quarterback Kansas
1963 Ron Vander Kelen Quarterback Wisconsin
1964 Charley Taylor Wide receiver Arizona State
1965 John Huarte Quarterback Notre Dame
1966 Gary Lane Quarterback Missouri
1967 Charles "Bubba" Smith Defensive end Michigan State
1968 Larry Csonka Running back Syracuse
1969 Greg Cook QuarterbackCincinnati
1970Bruce Taylor Defensive back Boston University
1971Richard HarrisDefensive end Grambling State
1972 Pat Sullivan Quarterback Auburn
1973 Ray Guy Punter Southern Mississippi

See also

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  3. 1 2 "Isbell sparks rally as All-Stars beat Redskins in second half". Milwaukee Journal. September 1, 1938. p. 6-part 2.
  4. "Tom Harmon to Join Stars". The Milwaukee Journal. August 15, 1945. p. 10.
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  7. 1 2 Johnson, Chuck (August 16, 1958). "Grid All-Stars slay inept Detroit Lions". Milwaukee Journal. p. 12.
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  11. 1 2 "Rampaging fans, rain shorten all-star game". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. July 24, 1976. p. 3B.
  12. 1 2 Shepard, Terry (July 24, 1976). "Rain and fans do in players". Milwaukee Journal. p. 10.
  13. "Game ended by Tribune". Milwaukee Journal. December 22, 1976. p. 10-part 2.
  14. "College All-Star Game: A Charity Dies". Evening Independent . Chicago Tribune. December 22, 1967. p. 1-C. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
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  17. Lea, Bud (August 8, 1964). "Bears rally for 28-17 win". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2, part 2.
  18. Lea, Bud (August 7, 1965). "Stars' rally short, Browns win 24-16". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2, part 2.
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  20. "Starr, Packers coast in". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. August 5, 1967. p. 10.
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  22. Lea, Bud (August 2, 1969). "Stars scare Jets in 26-24 loss". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
  23. Lea, Bud (August 1, 1970). "Chiefs manhandle Stars, 24-3". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
  24. Lea, Bud (July 31, 1971). "Colts finesse All-Stars, 24-17". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
  25. Lea, Bud (July 29, 1972). "Cowboys dominate Stars, 20-7". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
  26. Lea, Bud (July 28, 1973). "Miami beats frustrated Stars". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
  27. Hoffman, Dale (August 2, 1975). "Gilliam turns Star dreams into dust". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
  28. "Charley Trippi's College All-Star Game Trophy". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 12, 2017.