Sunday, May 15, 2011

1962 College All-Star Action

For this Sunday evening, we are going to go back and visit the 1962 College All-Star Game. Above, according to the original AP photo caption: “Packers’ Paul Hornung hits turf in second quarter after missing pass. All-Star Angelo Dabiero of Notre Dame covers on defense.” Although it seems a bit strange in today’s world of very expensive players’ limbs, The Chicago Charities College All-Star Game was an annual preseason match played annually (except in 1974, because of an N.F.L. players’ strike) from 1934 to 1976 between the National Football League champions and a team of star college seniors from the previous year.

After the Super Bowl began, including the two seasons prior to the N.F.L./A.F.L. merger, the Super Bowl winner was the professional team involved, regardless of which league the team represented. Thus, the New York Jets played in the 1969 event, although still an A.F.L. team.

The game was the idea of Arch Ward, the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and the driving force behind the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The game originally was a benefit for Chicago-area charities and was always played at Soldier Field in Chicago or at Northwestern University's Dyche Stadium in Evanston, Illinois (1943 and 1944). The Chicago game was one of several "pro vs. rookie" college all-star games held across the United States in its early years; Chicago's game had the benefit of being the highest profile, with the Super Bowl champions facing off against 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.

In the 1940s, the games were competitive affairs that attracted large crowds to Soldier Field. But as the talent level of pro football improved, the all-stars had diminishing success. The last all-star win came in 1963, when a team coached by legendary quarterback Otto Graham beat Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, 20-17. By the 1970s, crowds for the event were dwindling. In addition, N.F.L. coaches were reluctant to part with their new draftees (who would miss part of training camp) for a meaningless exhibition at which the players might be injured. The last game took place during a downpour at Soldier Field on July 23, 1976.

One aspect of the College All-Star Game was later revived. The concept of the Super Bowl champion playing in the first game of the season was adopted in 2004 for the National Football League Kickoff game; in that game, the first game of the regular season is hosted by the league champion from the previous year.

Here is the back side of the photo shown at the top of today’s blog entry, with original caption and a brief game synopsis attached.

Above and below, two tiny photos of game action from 1962.

One side note of the 1962 game: The 2008 movie The Express immortalized Syracuse RB and Cleveland Browns draftee (through the Washington Redskins) Ernie Davis' sensational, but tragically-short career. Davis' final scheduled career game was to be the 1962 College All-Star game. Davis was not so fortunate. Having just won the Heisman Trophy and been the Liberty Bowl MVP, he started showing signs of acute illness during the All-Star Camp, having strength and equilibrium issues, and did not play in the game. He was present with the collegians, participated in photo day and Times Charities functions wearing the above jersey. However, he would never play a professional game, as he was diagnosed with leukemia in 1962. He passed away in Cleveland, Ohio on May 18, 1963 at the age of 23.

• • • • • • • •

For those who are interested in the minutiae of Packers’ history, here is the complete AP coverage of the game:


August 3, 1962

CHICAGO (AP) — The mighty Green Bay Packers won by as wide a margin as expected, but certainly not as easily as expected over a tough, speedy college All-Star team in Soldier Field Friday night. Stiffened by the passing of John Hadl of Kansas, the collegians made it a battle until a 21-point final period Green Bay barrage buried them under a 42-20 score in the 29lh annual All-Star game in front of 65,000 fans.

The champions of the National Football League led only 21-20 going into the final quarter. It took a record-breaking performance by Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr to finally break the backs of the charged up All-Stars. Starr hurled five touchdown passes, including a pair each to Boyd Dowler and Max McGee, setting a new mark in this colorful grid series, now standing 19 to 8 in favor of the pros with 2 ties.

The All-Star of the night in this nationally televised contest was Hadl, a cool, poised and agile all around back who should be a rookie hotshot for the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League this season. Hadl completed his first five passes, four of them setting up the first All-Star touchdown that gave the collegians a surprising 7-0 jump in the opening period. Some observers guessed that the turning point of the game might have been the removal of the hot Kansas performer in the second period. Hadl returned to the game later, but the All-Stars never seemed to again to have the spark they had under the Jayhawker star in the first period.

Hadl completed 6 of 10 passes in all, had the Packers in a stew with his rollout jockeying and boomed five punts for a 43.3 yard average. Packer coach Vince Lombardi said of Hadl: "He surprised us the way he moved around. He showed great agility and poise."

Had the All-Stars not lost two great backs, Ernie Davis of Syracuse and Ron Bull of Baylor, by pregame illness, the Packers might have had their backs to the wall all the way. As it was, the All-Star ground attack produced only 68 yards, while the collegiate passing attack was not quite able to muster the deadly accuracy of Starr, who completed 13 of 22 tosses for 255 yards and five touchdowns.

The All-Stars led the vaunted Packers no fewer than three times. A one-yard smash by LSU'S Earl Gros- after Hadl had completed four straight passes- electrified the crowd of 65,000 by pushing the All-Stars ahead 7-0 the first time they had the ball. In the second quarter, the collegians took a l0-7 margin on the first of two field goals by Navy's Greg Mather- a 26-yard boot. However, the Packers went ahead 14-10 on Starr's four-yard pass to Ron Kramer.

In the third period, an upset still appeared in the making when Hadl hit Ohio State's Charley Bryant with a 22-yard scoring shot for a 17-14 All-Star lead. The final All-Star bid, however, proved to be Mather's 14-yard field goal late in the third period, shaving Green Bay's margin to 21-20. Early in the fourth period, Green Bay wrapped it up with Starr firing touchdown passes of 20 and 35 yards to McGee (video). A three-yard touchdown thrust by Green Bay's Elijah Pitts with time running out put the final frosting on the cake.

• • • • • • • •

The game MVP was Kansas QB John Hadl. Yes, that John Hadl.

Source: Wikipedia, Associated Press


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