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George Francis Musso (April 8, 1910 in
Collinsville, Illinois — September 5, 2000 in Edwardsville,
Illinois) was an American National Football League lineman, playing both offensive guard and tackle as
well as defensive middle guard. His twelve-year career was
spent entirely with the Chicago Bears.
Musso was the son of a coal miner who starred in high school
sports was therefore offered an athletic grant to attend James Millikin
University. His father, who initially planned to pull him out
of school after he completed his "primary" education, grudgingly
allowed George to attend college.
Musso attended Millikin University and was a
standout in football, basketball, baseball, and track. Millikin was
in the "Little 19" conference that included such
teams as Eureka, Lombard, and Augustana. In 1929, Musso played
against future President Ronald Reagan, who played guard for Eureka College.
Reagan, who weighed about 175 pounds, and Eureka lost to Musso and
Millikin 45-6. Musso was already larger than most linemen of his
era, playing college ball at 6' 2", 255 pounds. In 1933, George
played in the East-West All-Star game, held in Chicago; it was
there he first got the attention of George Halas.
Halas, who had doubts the small school Musso could make it in
the NFL, offered Musso a $90 a game contract (this was half rate
for regular players at that time). Musso agreed and, although he
struggled at first, became the centerpiece of the Bears line for 12
years. One reason the Bears of that era were called "Monsters of
the Midway" was their imposing size -- Musso, who played
professionally at 270 pounds, was one of the largest Bears and one
of the largest players in the league. His teammates called him
"Moose." He played offensive tackle until 1937 when he moved to
guard. He was the first to win All-NFL at two positions; tackle
(1935), and guard (1937). He played middle guard or nose tackle on defense
his entire career. Musso captained the Chicago Bears for nine seasons, playing
on the line with other NFL notables as Link Lyman, Joe Kopcha, Walt Kiesling, Bulldog Turner,
Joe Stydahar, and
Danny Fortmann. He
played in seven NFL championship games, with the Bears
winning four (1933, 1940, 1941, and 1943). He was inducted to the
Pro Football Hall of Fame in
1982. Of note, in 1935 as an NFL lineman, Musso played against Gerald Ford of Michigan in the 1935 College
All-Star game. Without a doubt, Musso is the only NFL player, to
have played against two U.S. Presidents.
Musso retired to Edwardsville, Illinois and began a restaurant
business. He was the Madison, Illinois county sheriff in the late
1950s and 1960s. He died in his home in Edwardsville in 2000.