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Frank Tripucka
Date of birth December 8, 1927 (1927-12-08) (age 82)
Place of birth Bloomfield, New Jersey, United States
Position(s) Quarterback
College Notre Dame
NFL Draft 1949 / Round 1 / Pick 9
Jersey Number 18, 8
Career highlights
AFL All-Star 1962
Retired #s Denver Broncos #18
NFL Philadelphia Eagles
NFL Detroit Lions
NFL Chicago Cardinals
NFL Dallas Texans
CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders
CFL Ottawa Rough Riders
CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders
AFL Denver Broncos
CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders

Francis (Frank) Joseph Tripucka (The Trip) (born December 8, 1927 in Bloomfield, New Jersey) is a former American football quarterback at Notre Dame, in the National Football League, in the Canadian Football League, and in the early American Football League.


Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Tripucka was backup quarterback to Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lujack on Frank Leahy's unbeaten Notre Dame squads in 1946 and 1947. When Lujack graduated, Tripucka became the 1948 starter. He led the team to a 9-0-1 record, their only blemish being a 14-14 tie with USC in the last game of the season. Notre Dame finished #2 in the final polls and Tripucka was named an All American.

National Football League

When Tripucka graduated, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him with their #1 pick in the 1949 NFL Draft, but traded him to the Detroit Lions before the 1949 season began. He started with the Lions in 1949, and then played the next three seasons with the Chicago Cardinals.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

In 1953 Tripucka moved to Canada to play with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The 'Riders had just hired Frank Filchock as coach, and Tripucka joined him as the starting quarterback. He played there through 1958, when he was traded to the Ottawa Rough Riders, but he was back in Saskatchewan before the end of the 1959 season as coach. The Roughriders were having a dismal season.

Non-Canadians playing Canadian professional football were known as imports. In 1959 each Canadian Football League team was limited to 12 imports. Coach Tripucka was ineligible to play because the Roughriders already had these 12 roster spots filled. However, in the fourteenth game of the season, all three Roughrider quarterbacks were sidelined by injuries. For the last two games, management decided to play Tripucka anyway.

Because of the ineligible player, these two games were forfeit in advance. The Roughriders lost the first of them on the scoreboard as well, 20-19 versus the Edmonton Eskimos. In the last game of the season, versus Bud Grant's Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Tripucka had 17 completions in 29 passes and Ferdy Burket ran for five touchdowns. At the end of the game the Roughriders led 37 to 30. The final, official score was Saskatchewan 37, Winnipeg 30 for a Winnipeg victory.

Tripucka played seven seasons in Canada.

American Football League

The American Football League was founded in 1960, and Tripucka's old coach at Saskatchewan, Frank Filchock, was hired as the first coach of the new league's Denver Broncos. He brought Tripucka with him as an assistant coach. However the Broncos also had quarterback problems, and in preseason Filchock sent Tripucka in as a player. He became their first starting quarterback in the regular season and played with the team for four seasons. He was the first U.S. pro quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. He also threw the first touchdown pass in the history of the AFL. In 1962 he was named to the AFL All Star team.

Tripucka retired in 1963 after 15 profesional seasons. The Broncos subsequently retired his uniform #18.

He is the father of Notre Dame basketball star and Detroit Piston Kelly Tripucka.

See also

External links

Preceded by
Johnny Lujack
Notre Dame starting quarterbacks
Succeeded by
Bob A. Williams


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