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Benny Friedman
Benny Friedman.jpg
Date of birth March 18, 1905(1905-03-18)
Place of birth Cleveland, OH, United States
Date of death November 24, 1982 (aged 77)
Place of death New York, NY, United States
Position(s) Quarterback
Head Coach
College Michigan
Playing stats DatabaseFootball
Coaching stats DatabaseFootball
Team(s) as a player
Cleveland Bulldogs
Detroit Wolverines
New York Giants
Brooklyn Dodgers (NFL)
Team(s) as a coach/administrator
New York Giants
Brooklyn Dodgers (NFL)
Brandeis University
College Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame, 2005

Benjamin "Benny" Friedman (March 18, 1905 – November 24, 1982) was an American football quarterback who played for the University of Michigan (1924-1926), Cleveland Bulldogs (1927), Detroit Wolverines (1928), New York Giants (1929-1931), and Brooklyn Dodgers (1932-1934). He is generally considered the first great passer in professional football. In 2005, Friedman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Playing career

Friedman became the starting quarterback and placekicker midway through his sophomore year at Michigan (On defense, he played in the backfield.) In 1925 and 1926, he led the Wolverines to 7-1 seasons and first place finishes in the Big Ten Conference. Against Indiana in 1925, Friedman accounted for 44 points, throwing for five touchdowns and kicking two field goals and eight extra points. The following year, he was a consensus first-team All-American and most valuable player of the Big Ten.

In 1927, Friedman joined his hometown Cleveland Bulldogs in the National Football League. Professional football was a decidedly minor sport in those days, but Friedman would go on to contribute substantially to its growth. After a successful rookie season in Cleveland, he had a spectacular second year playing for the Detroit Wolverines. In 1928, Friedman led the NFL in passing touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and scoring as well as extra points (He may have led in other categories, too, but the NFL did not record yardage stats in those days.) No player since has dominated in so many aspects of the game.

Friedman with Giants 1929

Friedman's performance so impressed New York Giants owner Tim Mara that Mara bought the whole Wolverines team just so he could have the rights to the quarterback.[1] With the Giants in 1929, Friedman led the league again with 20 touchdown passes. Friedman's passing proficiency was especially noteworthy considering that most teams rarely threw the ball in those days. The football used at the time was rounder and more difficult to throw, and any incomplete pass in the end zone resulted in a turnover. No NFL team would surpass 20 passing touchdowns in a season until 1942.

In 1931, Friedman suffered a knee injury that hampered the rest of his career. He moved to the Brooklyn football Dodgers in 1932 as a player-coach while simultaneously serving as an assistant coach at Yale University. He led the league in completion percentage in 1933 and retired after the 1934 season.


After leaving the Dodgers, Friedman coached City College of New York until 1941. For decades afterward, the college's beaver mascot took on the moniker "Benny the Beaver." He served in the Navy during World War II. He then moved to Brandeis University in Massachusetts, where he served as athletic director from 1949 to 1961 and head football coach from 1951 to 1959, when the football team was disbanded due to high costs.

Suffering from severe diabetes, Friedman committed suicide in 1982.

Despite his impressive numbers, Friedman was not chosen for the Pro Football Hall of Fame until 2005. Some people attributed this to Friedman's relentless self-promotion and campaigning for induction, which was considered bad form. Friedman is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

See also


External links

Other sources

Carroll, Bob, et al. (1999). Total Football II. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-270174-6.

Preceded by
Jack Depler
Brooklyn Dodgers Head Football Coaches
Succeeded by
Cap McEwen
Preceded by
LeRoy Andrews
New York Giants Head Football Coaches
co-interim coach with Steve Owen for two games)

Succeeded by
Steve Owen

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