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Jay Berwanger: Wikis


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Jay Berwanger
Date of birth March 19, 1914(1914-03-19)
Place of birth Dubuque, Iowa
Date of death June 26, 2002 (aged 88)
Position(s) Running back
College Chicago
NFL Draft 1936 / Round 1
Awards 1935 Heisman Trophy, MVP of Big Ten.
College Football Hall of Fame

John Jacob "Jay" Berwanger (March 19, 1914 - June 26, 2002) was an American football halfback born in Dubuque, Iowa. He was the first winner of the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy in 1935 (the following year, though, the award was renamed the Heisman Trophy). Berwanger had been a star at the University of Chicago, whose legendary coach Amos Alonzo Stagg had been forced into retirement by the university immediately before Berwanger's first season on the varsity (1933). In a 1934 game against the University of Michigan, Berwanger left his mark on Michigan center Gerald Ford in the form of a distinctive scar beneath the future President's left eye.[1]

Berwanger also competed in track & field for the University of Chicago, setting a school decathlon record in 1936 that stood for over 70 years. It was recently broken by Zach Rodgers in 2007.[1].

In 1936, Berwanger was also the first player to be drafted by the National Football League in its initial college draft; he was selected first overall by the Philadelphia Eagles, who then traded his negotiating rights to the Chicago Bears. However, he chose not to play Professional Football and never played in the NFL. Ironically, his coach, Clark Shaughnessy was already collaborating with Chicago Bears owner-coach George Halas on improvements to the T-formation which the University of Chicago did not use, that would revolutionize football.

After graduating, Berwanger was a sportswriter and later became a manufacturer of plastic car parts. He was very modest about the Heisman and used the trophy as a doorstop in his library. The trophy was later bequeathed to the University of Chicago Athletic Hall of Fame, where it was on display as of 2007. There is also a replica of the Heisman on display in the trophy case in the Nora Gymnasium at Dubuque Senior High School.

He is a member of the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.


External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
First award
Heisman Trophy Winner
Succeeded by
Larry Kelley
Preceded by
First draft
#1 Overall NFL Draft Pick
Succeeded by
Sam Francis

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