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Cecil Isbell: Wikis

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Cecil Isbell
Date of birth: July 11, 1915
Place of birth: Houston,Texas
Date of death: June 23, 1985
Career information
Position(s): Tailback
College: Purdue
NFL Draft: 1938 / Round: 1/ Pick 7
Organizations
 As player:
1938-1942 Green Bay Packers
Career highlights and awards
Honors: NFL 1930s All-Decade Team
Playing stats at DatabaseFootball.com
College Football Hall of Fame

Cecil Isbell (July 11, 1915 - June 23, 1985) was a professional football player for the Green Bay Packers. He attended Purdue University. He was best known for passing to Don Hutson when Hutson was at his peak. He led the Packers to a NFL championship in 1939.

Contents

Life before the NFL

Cecil was born in Texas, the second son of Adger and Sarah Isbell. His older brother Cody was also a football player for Purdue. Cecil also had two younger brothers who played college football, "Dub" Isbell at Rice University and Larry Isbell at Baylor University. Cecil attended Sam Houston High School in Houston. Cecil played for Purdue from 1935 through 1937. He was voted the Boilermakers' most valuable player for the 1937 season. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1967. In the summer of 1938, he led the College All-Stars to victory over the NFL champion Washington Redskins at Soldier Field, Chicago. Isbell was named the game's MVP as the All-Stars prevailed 28-16. He was drafted in the first round of the 1938 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.

NFL career

When Isbell arrived in Green Bay, the Packers already had an All-Pro tailback, Arnie Herber who had led the Packers to the NFL championship in 1936. Coach Curly Lambeau alternated Isbell and Herber and occasionally used them in the same backfield, with Isbell at halfback. This "platooning" allowed Isbell to learn Lambeau's offense, the Notre Dame Box. Isbell was a very accurate passer and a good runner and he led the Packers in rushing and passing in his rookie year. The Packers came in first in the West and faced the New York Giants in the championship game. Isbell rushed 11 times for 20 yards and was 3 of 5 passing for 91 yards, but the Giants prevailed 23-17. In 1939, the Packers used the same attack and again Isbell led the team in rushing while catching 9 passes as well. The Packers finished in first again and faced New York in a rematch from the year before. This time the Packers crushed the Giants 27-0, with Isbell throwing a 27 yard touchdown.

From 1940 to 1942, the Packers finished second in the West to the Chicago Bears each year. Isbell became a more accomplished passer during this time, connecting regularly with Don Hutson in record-setting frequency. In 1941, Isbell set the NFL record for yards passing with 1479 and threw 15 touchdown passes, 10 of them to Hutson. He also completed 56.8% of his passes, an unheard of rate in those days and testimony to Isbell's accuracy as a passer. The Packers finished tied with Chicago but lost in a divisional playoff 33-14. In 1942, Isbell bettered his record with 2021 yards passing and a record 24 touchdowns. Hutson also had record numbers, with 1211 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns (Hutson's TD mark stood until 1984). Still, the Packers finished second to Chicago, who were 11-0 in the regular season.

After the 1942 season, Isbell quit the NFL to coach at Purdue. Isbell made it clear he wanted to quit while he was still on top of his game and not be pushed out after getting old and slow, as he had seen happen to other players. He finished with 5945 yards passing, 59 touchdowns, and 52 interceptions. Had he continued to play, he would have probably been considered one of the top passers of his day, right alongside Sammy Baugh and Sid Luckman.

Coaching career

Isbell started out at Purdue as an assistant coach and took over as head coach in 1944. He coached there for three years with a 14-14-1 record. In 1947, he became a pro coach for the Baltimore Colts in the All-America Football Conference. He coached for 2 1/2 years, never with much success. He was finally fired in 1949 after winning only 10 games. His one claim to fame from those years in the AAFC was he was the first coach of Y. A. Tittle, who went on to great success in the NFL. After a few more years as an assistant coach in the NFL, Isbell quit football for business in the mid 1950s.

Death

On June 23, 1985, Isbell died in Hammond, Indiana.

External links

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