George Connor (American football)

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George Connor
George Connor (American football).jpg
No. 81, 71
Position: Linebacker / tackle
Personal information
Born:(1925-01-21)January 21, 1925
Chicago, Illinois
Died:March 31, 2003(2003-03-31) (aged 78)
Chicago, Illinois
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school: Chicago (IL) De La Salle
College: Notre Dame
NFL Draft: 1946  / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Pro

College

Career NFL statistics
Games:90
Interceptions:7
Fumble recoveries:10
Player stats at NFL.com

George Leo Connor (January 21, 1925 – March 31, 2003) was an American football player for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) from 1948 to 1955. He played tackle on offense, and on defense was recognized as one of the sport's first linebackers. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and of the College Football Hall of Fame. He attended both the College of the Holy Cross and the University of Notre Dame. He won the first Outland Trophy as the best college lineman in 1946. Sportswriter Grantland Rice once observed Connor was "the closest thing to a Greek God since Apollo." [1]

Contents

Early life and college

Connor was born in Chicago, and was not expected to survive infancy, weighing only three pounds at his premature birth. [2] He played two years of college football at Holy Cross and was a second-team All-America selection by the Associated Press in 1943. [3] He then served in the United States Navy during World War II. After the war, Connor was drafted in the first round, fifth overall by the New York Giants in 1946, but instead transferred to the University of Notre Dame to be closer to his ill father. [2] He was twice a consensus All-American as a tackle for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, in 1946 and 1947. [4] [5] He won the first Outland Trophy as the nation's best college interior lineman in 1946. [6] Connor was a key component of Notre Dame's 1946 and 1947 national championship teams, and was the captain of the unbeaten 1947 team. [7]

Professional career

After graduating, Connor received an offer from the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference, but chose to sign with his hometown Chicago Bears in 1948 for $13,000 a year guaranteed for three years, a high salary at the time for a lineman. [8] [5] He played for the Bears from 1948 through 1955. In eight seasons, he was named a first-team All-Pro five times, and was an invitee to the first four Pro Bowls. [9] At first exclusively a tackle on defense, in a game in 1949 Bears head coach George Halas ordered Connor to stand upright outside the end in an attempt to thwart the running of Philadelphia Eagles halfback Steve Van Buren. The plan worked, as Connor held Van Buren in check and the Bears handed the Eagles their only loss of the season. "We always set high standards for George Connor and he exceeded them," said Halas. [10] He became one of the first big, mobile linebackers in the NFL. Connor retired during training camp in 1956, still bothered by a knee injury sustained in 1954. [10]

Honors and later life

In 1963, Connor was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the class of 1975. He is a member of the National Football League 1940s All-Decade Team, selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame committee in 1969 to honor the best players of the 1940s. [11]

For several years Connor was a color commentator on CBS telecasts of NFL games, often working with lead announcer Jack Drees.

Connor worked as a manufacturers' representative in Chicago after his retirement from the NFL. [10] He died in Evanston, Illinois on March 31, 2003, aged 78 after a long illness. [6]

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References

  1. "Chicago | Bears in the Hall - George Connor". Chicagobears.com. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  2. 1 2 Hayes, Neil (August 10, 2008). "Little Big Man: Smallest of infants turned out to be one of the giants of college and pro football" (PDF). Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on March 26, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  3. "Miller and White of Notre Dame Gain All-America Football Posts" (PDF). The New York Times. December 8, 1943.(subscription required)
  4. "Reflections of the Dome - April 2003". Irishlegends.com. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  5. 1 2 Litsky, Frank (April 2, 2003). "George Connor, 78, Standout For Notre Dame and the Bears". The New York Times. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  6. 1 2 "George Connor, 78; Hall of Fame Linebacker for the Chicago Bears". Los Angeles Times. April 2, 2003. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  7. "George Connor Bio :: Notre Dame Football :: UND.COM :: The Official Site of Notre Dame Athletics". Und.Com. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  8. "George Connor was football's first linebacker". The Marion Star . November 10, 1984. Retrieved January 17, 2020 via Newspapers.com.
  9. "George Connor Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  10. 1 2 3 "Football's First Linebacker". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. December 9, 1984. p. 9. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  11. "NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1940s". Pro Football Hall of Fame. January 8, 2010. Retrieved December 10, 2016.