Tackle—(Colorado) Detroit Lions 1948
I traded a Gene Hubka 3x5 for this autograph on a brief coaching bio cut. Unbeknownst to me he had passed away only four days before we made the trade. He was buried in Pacific View Memorial Park, Corona del Mar, California.
Tackle—(Auburn) Chicago Cardinals 1942-43,1945-49, Card-Pitt 1944, Detroit Lions 1950
I had a great time [at Auburn]. I did OK as a player, but never thought about playing in the pros. The great Jock Sutherland saw me on a scouting trip, however, and said, “Chet, you must play.” I was going to sign with the Providence Steamrollers for $160, but the Cardinals offered $250. I took it. [Playing with the Cardinals was] the greatest experience of my life. I loved those guys. I couldn't believe what we had done when we won. I just sat there in a chair and went blank like I was in shock. We were so tired, but the [1947 national] championship was ours. My only touchdown in the NFL. It's in the book as a 14-yard fumble return, but it wasn't a fumble. I took the ball right out of [Rams quarterback] Bob Waterfield's hands and ran it in. It was in old Comiskey Park, and I almost went over the first-base railing. We didn't like the Bears. To them, we were just the other team in town. . . . Our checks for winning the world championship were $1,132 (to $754 for each Eagle). With it, I bought the first new car in my life. It was a four-door Super Deluxe Ford with white-wall tires and a seven-tube radio. I'd gone to college in a Model-T Ford. . . . I wasn't drafted. When I came out of the Marine Corps in 1942, I tried out for the Cardinals and barely made the team, even with the wartime player shortages. [My greatest day was] when the Cardinals beat the Eagles 28-21 over the frozen turf at Comiskey Park in the 1947 NFL title game. I blocked Al Wistert and Plato Andros blocked Bucko Kilroy, twice opening holes for Elmer Angsman to score 70-yard touchdowns. [One day] I was chasing Frank Seno of the Giants near the sidelines and one of the guys got off the bench to clip me from behind. All the officials were watching Seno and ignored my pleas. In our day we played more man-for-man. Today's players are better and stronger, because of the weight programs. All we lifted was a bottle of beer. . . . Toward the end of my career, the Cardinals said they were going to play younger tackles, but Halas wanted me for the Bears. I said, “No way will I play for that man,” so I went to Detroit, played another year and retired. A few years later, I went to Wrigley to watch a game and there, on top of the ramp where the Bears had their locker room, was Papa George. He yelled, “Security, stop that man,” ran down the steps and started chasing me. I got away by hiding behind a pillar. Years later, at my 1983 De La Salle retirement, I got an envelope with Chicago Bears on it and inside was a substantial check and a nice letter from George saying he always admired me as a player. It was one of the nicest things to happen to me.
Chet Bulger is buried at Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside, Illinois.
Defensive Tackle—(Baylor) Los Angeles Rams 1952, Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) 1956
I thought it much more meaningful to obtain autographs on something that gives context to the career of a player. In the past few years I have enjoyed searching for old newspaper articles to highlight key moments in a player's career, e.g., a contract signing or trade. Sometimes that has backfired when the player decided that the article was too personally valuable to return. That has unfortunately happened with some frequency. This article reports Casner signing a contract with the Rams in 1951.
Tackle—(Manhattan) New York Giants 1944, First Air Force Aces 1945 [All Service Team 1945]
Tackle—(Georgia Tech) Boston Yanks 1948 [All-American 1947, College Football Hall of Fame 1978]
He was buried in Gaston Memorial Park, Gastonia, North Carolina.
Tackle—(Alabama) Detroit Lions 1946-47
Before the game, they would announce the starters for both teams. When you'd run out onto the field, there'd be 55,000 people cheering and you'd think "Gee, I'm living in ecstasy. I've made it, and here I am." That's all I could say. You can't beat it.
Leon Fichman, on playing pro football with the Lions
Leon sent me a large packet of photos, an 8-page handwritten letter, newspaper clippings, and other paper documents in February 2007. I telephoned him to thank him and had a delightful Sunday afternoon visit. If only I had followed up on my prompting to interview him before he passed away. Drats! He was a wonderful guy. He received a lot of attention in the press in his later years for his association with Babe Ruth in motion pictures. He was a child actor in Hollywood from 1923 to 1935, playing in films with such well-known actors as Will Rogers and Mickey Rooney. He told me about pitching to the Babe, sitting on his lap, and having Babe sign an autographed ball for him which his brother used to play baseball with.
Tackle—(St. Bonaventure/George Washington/West Virginia) Detroit Lions 1942; Ft. Benning Raiders 1944-45
Defensive Tackle/Offensive Guard—(Purdue) Pittsburgh Steelers 1956-64
He was buried at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, Justice, Illinois.
Tackle—(Wisconsin/Notre Dame) Green Bay Packers 1933-34 [All-American 1931-32]
I traded an Angelo Bertelli 3x5 card in February 2010 to get this Joe Kurth autograph and a Duane Purvis autograph from a Virginia collector. This album page was signed by Kurth in 1932.
Tackle—(Fordham) Chicago Cardinals 1941, North Carolina Pre-flight Cloudbusters 1942-43, St. Mary's Pre-flight Air Devils 1945, San Francisco 49ers 1946, Chicago Rockets 1947; Jersey City Giants (AFL) 1948
I have more than half a dozen of his autographs on copies of memorabilia that Kuzman sent me in 1993.
Tackle—(Tulane) Pittsburgh Steelers 1951
Paul Lea autographed the copy of this 1951 New York Times article.
He is buried in Crestwood Cemetery, Gadsden, Alabama.
Jim Lipinski (1927-2011)
Offensive Tackle/Defensive Tackle—(Fairmont State) Chicago Cardinals 1950, Calgary Stampeders (CFL) 1951
He is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, Brady's Bend, Pennsylvania.
Tackle—(Wisconsin) U.S. Submarine Base Undersea Raiders 1945; Chicago Cardinals 1948-49
Offensive Tackle—(Michigan State) British Columbia Lions (CFL) 1956, Green Bay Packers 1957-64 [All American 1956]
Norman had a nose that was kind of squashed to the left. I said, "When are you going to get that fixed?" He said, "Listen, that’s the only thing that can distinguish me from other people." That punch-struck nose like a boxer. He was the funniest guy you could ever imagine. He could tell jokes forever. He’d have the whole room laughing. I think that he was every bit as good as Skoronski. Lombardi was the one that said Forrest Gregg was the best lineman he ever coached, but the three of them, they could all do the same job and did it extremely well. Norman just happened to be the swing tackle at that time and Bob Skoronski ended up being the captain of that team and Forrest Gregg was an All-Pro. Norman kind of was left in the dust in one respect, but on the other hand Lombardi loved him.
He was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Southfield, Michigan.
Tackle—(St. Mary’s) Oakland Giants (PCFL) 1940, San Francisco Packers (PCFL) 1941, San Francisco Clippers (PCFL) 1945, Detroit Lions 1945
Tackle—(Texas Christian) New York Yankees 1946-48, Cleveland Browns 1949-53 [All-American (INS) 1942]
I played a few 60 minute games, [but] couldn’t play a lick of defense. . . . I never could beat Arnie [Weinmeister], but he never beat me by much more than half a step.
Derrell Palmer is buried in Rosehill Cemetery, Cleburne, Texas.
Tackle—(Ohio State) Iowa Pre-flight Seahawks 1942; Cleveland Rams 1938
Charlie Ream was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio.
Tackle—(Villanova) Cleveland Browns 1950-55, Green Bay Packers 1956; Coach—Baltimore Colts 1972
We had a guy by the name of John Sandusky, who coaches now for the Lions, and John played tackle, so he was in front of Arnie [Weinmeister]. He couldn't block Arnie, so he swung an elbow at him and missed. Now Arnie had a voice like a lady, real high, and here's my right hand of God, he said, "You son-of-a-bitch, I'll kill you. Swing an elbow at me, will you? You've got a bad afternoon coming." The next play he took his arm and hit John so hard he drove him right into the ground. Now he [Arnie] was after Otto [Graham], and I didn't even get to the defensive end like I was supposed to. I had to get Arnie. Arnie and I were going at it, and when we had a time-out, I went over to John and said, "Haven't you heard about the sleeping dog?" He said, "What the hell are you talking about?" I said, "If you see a dog sleeping, let that son-of-a-bitch sleep. Don't rouse him. Arnie, he was asleep for a while, but you went and woke him up. I'm going to have him all afternoon because you aren't blocking him worth a damn." I mean, he didn't block him once after that. Arnie kicked him, punched him—he did everything he could to John. He'd have been better off if he'd hit him with that elbow.
John Sandusky is buried at Fred Hunter's Hollywood Memorial Gardens North, Hollywood, Florida.
Tackle—(William & Mary) Brooklyn Dodgers 1948, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL) 1950-53; Coach—Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL) 1963-67 [Canadian Football Hall of Fame 1988]
Ralph Sazio is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Burlington, Ontario, Canada.
Tackle—(Franklin & Marshall) Jersey City Giants (American Assoc./AFL) 1941,1946-49; Detroit Lions 1941-42
I went into the service to fight the war and then got shafted by the pension plan.
Alex Schibanoff is buried in Maplewood Cemetery, Freehold, New Jersey.
Tackle—(Nebraska) Sampson Naval Training Station Bluejackets 1943, Iowa Pre-flight Seahawks 1944, New York Yankees 1947 [A. P. Service All-American 2nd Team 1944]
We played both offense and defense. A player could not leave the game and re-enter during the same quarter. Nebraska used the two-team system. I played on the second team and we played in the second and fourth quarters. A player could not use his hands to block a defender. We were instructed to hold the front of our shirts with our hands. There were no substitutions made to protect a punter or place kicker. We blocked a number of punts and place kicks because a lot of the running backs were much smaller than linemen.
Vic Schleich sent me this autographed 8x10 photo. He was buried in Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Tackle—(Auburn/Yale) New York Giants 1947-48
I also have a signed 1-page typescript note dated August 18, 1992, sent to me by Bill Schuler.
Tackle—(Oregon State) Philadelphia Eagles 1941-42,1945-53, Phil-Pitt Steagles 1943 [All-American 1940; All Pro 1943,1949]
Although relatively small, Sears was the smartest, and one of the best defensive tackles of his time.
Norm Van Brocklin
Vic Sears was cremated and his ashes scattered at the home where he and his wife raised their family in Holicong, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Tackle—(Tennessee) Fort Benning 1942, Eastern Army All-Stars 1942; Philadelphia Eagles 1945
Abe Shires autographed this questionnaire that I sent him in February 1993. He sent me the autographed card at that time. I traded it to a Tennessee collector in October 2011.
Tackle—(Alabama) [All-American 1929-30, College Football Hall of Fame 1955]
He was a great All-American tackle.
Fred Sington autographed this copy of a news article announcing his selection as a 1930 All-American. Marchie Schwartz's widow informed me of his recent passing. I also have a short note dated May 10, 1992, sent to me by Sington recalling Mel Hein as a "great opponent in 1931 Rose Bowl game."
Sington is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham, Alabama.
Offensive Tackle/Defensive End—(Arkansas) Los Angeles Rams 1957, Pittsburgh Steelers 1958-60, Baltimore Colts 1961-62,1964-70
He couldn't run a hundred yards. He was the slowest guy we had. If you picked a team by what you read off a stopwatch, Billy Ray would have been on the next bus out.
Billy Ray Smith is buried in Augusta Memorial Park, Augusta, Arkansas.
Tackle—(Colgate) El Toro Marines 1945; Detroit Lions 1947, Washington Redskins 1948
Tackle—(Villanova) New York Giants 1942, Hollywood Bears (PCFL) 1945, Washington Redskins 1946, Pittsburgh Steelers 1947, Chicago Bears 1948-51; March Field 1943, Salt Lake Army Air Base Wings 1943
Defensive Tackle—(Washington) Los Angeles Rams 1957-61, Pittsburgh Steelers 1962, New York Titans 1962, New York Jets 1963
Tackle—(Tulane) Los Angeles Rams 1952-53, Chicago Cardinals 1954-57
Len Teeuws is buried at Our Lady of Peace Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Tackle—(Lon Morris JC/Hardin Simmons) Paterson Panthers (AFL) 1946, Long Island Indians (AFL) 1946-47, Jersey City Giants (AFL) 1947, New York Giants 1948, Detroit Lions 1949
Tackle—(Mississippi State) Fort Pierce Amphibians 1944; Kenosha Cardinals (AFL) 1941, Detroit Lions 1941
Awarded Navy Cross for courage under fire while in command of a scout boat assigned to clear the way and signal landing sites during North African invasion operations.
1943 Official NFL Roster and Record Manual
Tackle—(Indiana) Camp Lee Travelers 1945, Detroit Lions 1941-42,1945-46, Chicago Rockets 1948 [All Pro 1945]
Tackle—(Brigham Young) 1933-36
Vern Waldo autographed this 1935 Ev Thorpe cartoon.
Tackle—(Oklahoma) Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) 1954, Philadelphia Eagles 1955-57, Washington Redskins 1958, Detroit Lions 1959-60 [All-American 1950-51, Outland Trophy 1951, College Football Hall of Fame 1992]
He was big, fast, and had a great amount of spirit.
This is the return address with a cut printed signature that Weatherall wrote on the return envelope containing the above 3x5 card.
Tackle—(Nebraska) Frankford Yellowjackets 1926-28 [All-American 1924-25, College Football Hall of Fame 1951]
He was the best tackle I have ever seen.
Tackle—(Colgate) Canton Bulldogs 1921 [College Football Hall of Fame 1954]
This may be one of my older sports autographs. I purchased it in 1994 as he died about fifteen years before I started collecting autographs.
Tackle—(Alabama/Navy) [All-American 1942 (NEA),1943-44, Knute Rockne Memorial Trophy 1944, College Football Hall of Fame 1956; rear admiral U.S. Navy]
Navy's Don Whitmire alone gives any line a big break. The big, broad-shouldered, fast-moving star who came up from Alabama is one of the best tackles football has known in many years. Only 5 feet 10 inches in height, Whitmire weighs more than 220 pounds and he also knows what it's about when it comes to gridiron savvy.
Don Whitmire autographed this 1944 Jack Sords cartoon. I also have a 1-page handwritten note dated November 16, 1989, written to me by Whitmire.
He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
Tackle—(Oregon State) Detroit Lions 1943,1946; Los Angeles Bulldogs (PCFL) 1943, Seattle Bombers (PCFL) 1944
Tackle—(Minnesota) New York Giants 1937-40 [All-American 1936, College Football Hall of Fame 1954]
I don't know of a better lineman in the Big Ten conference.
Elmer Layden, Notre Dame coach
Ed Widseth is buried in Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Tackle/End—(Notre Dame) Chicago Bears 1950-57 [All Pro 1955]
I switched from defensive end to tight end for a game in San Francisco in 1953 and caught 40- and 30-yard touchdown passes. Playing offensive end wasn't new. Leon Hart and I were the offensive ends at Notre Dame.
Bill Wightkin is buried in Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside, Illinois.
Tackle/Guard—(Minnesota) Green Bay Packers 1946-51,1953 [All-American 1941-42, College Football Hall of Fame 1957]
I'd play the whole first quarter, every play. Then, I'd play the first 5 minutes of the second quarter. But after 5 minutes, I'd be gasping for breath and I'd come off the field. Somebody would come in for me and they'd play 5 minutes. I'd sit on the bench and then when there was 5 minutes to go in the half, I'd go back in. I did the same thing in the second half. So I'd play 50 minutes a game. I used to play 60 minutes at the University of Minnesota. But I didn't smoke. During World War II, I took up smoking and it was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life. I smoked all the time I played at Green Bay and I just didn't have the wind to play 60 minutes. I know it was the damn cigarettes, but I kept smoking anyway.
Dick Wildung autographed this news article reporting the 1942 A.P. All-American selections.
He is buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Tackle—(Michigan) [All-American 1933, College Football Hall of Fame 1967]
Whitey Wistert was cremated and his ashes kept by the family.
Tackle—(Denver) St. Mary's Pre-flight 1943-45; Pittsburgh Steelers 1940-42, San Francisco Clippers (PCFL) 1946, San Francisco 49ers 1946-49 [Service All-American 1944]
Before I even put on a jock, the coach got us all in a room and talked to us for an hour. The only thing I remember from that one hour is when he told us, "If you hit them harder than they hit you, you won’t get hurt." I played offense, defense and special teams. I was probably the only 49er to play 60 minutes, gun to gun. If it weren't for the Cleveland Browns, we would've been the best thing since sliced bread. Paul Brown had a scout on us every game. They had Lavelli and Speedie, two six-foot-five ends, and we’d have Strzykalski, a 5-10 back, and so they’d just have Otto Graham thread the needle. We’d have to send linebackers out to cover those ends, and then they’d run big Marion Motley up the middle.
Bob Zimny (1921-2011)
Tackle—(Indiana) Camp Grant Warriors 1943; Chicago Cardinals 1945-49
He was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, Shelbyville, Indiana.