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Merv Pregulman
Date of birth: October 10, 1922 (1922-10-10) (age 87)
Place of birth: Lansing, Michigan
Career information
Position(s): Center, Tackle
College: Michigan
NFL Draft: 1944 / Round: 1 / Pick 7
 As player:
Green Bay Packers
Detroit Lions
New York Bulldogs
Playing stats at
College Football Hall of Fame

Mervin Pregulman (born October 10, 1922 in Lansing, Michigan)[1] is a former All-American football tackle and center who played for the University of Michigan Wolverines (1941-1943) and in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers (1946), Detroit Lions (1947-1948), and New York Bulldogs (1949). He went on to a successful business career as the president and CEO of Siskin Steel & Supply Co. in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 1982, Pregulman was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame, and he has also received the Gerald R. Ford Award from the University of Michigan.



Merv Pregulman

Pregulman was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan. His father, George Pregulman, had little formal education, but he became a millionaire in business in Lansing.[2] Pregulman went to Lansing Central High School, not far from the campus of Michigan State University (then known as Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science).[1] In his senior year of high school, Pregulman was "captain of the all-state football team."[3]

College football

Despite growing up in the shadow of Michigan State, Pregulman chose to attend the University of Michigan. At Michigan, he played for Coach Fritz Crisler from 1941-1943. He was a versatile lineman who "moved from guard to tackle to center as needed, and who played each position with skill, confidence and winning effectiveness."[1]


1941 season

In 1941, Pregulman was a 19-year old sophomore starting at right guard. On October 18, 1941, he intercepted a pass thrown by College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Otto Graham and ran it back 65 yards (59 m) for the game-winning touchdown in a 14-7 victory over Northwestern.[1] That year, Pregulman was named a Grantland Rice All-American honorable mention and was given the team's Meyer Morton Award as the most improved player during spring drills.[4] The 1941 Michigan team finished the year with a record of 6-1-1, outscored its opponents 147-41, and was ranked No. 5 in the final AP poll.[4][5]

1942 season

In 1942, the Michigan team was 7-3 and finished the season ranked No. 7 in the AP poll.[6] Michigan played the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the first time in 25 years and won, 32-20. Pregulman was named to the All Big Ten team.[1] The 1942 Wolverines' offensive line that included Pregulman, Julius Franks (U-M's first African-American All-American), Al Wistert, Robert Kolesar, Bill Pritula and Elmer Madar, was known as the "Seven Oak Posts."[7]

1943 season

In 1943, the Michigan football team was 8-1, outscored its opponents, 302-73, and was co-champion of the Big Ten Conference, finishing the season ranked No. 3 in the final AP poll.[8] The only loss was to Notre Dame, 35-12. The Wolverines did not allow any other opponent to score more than seven points that season and defeated Minnesota, 49-6, and Ohio State 45-7.[8] For the 1943 season, Pregulman was named Grantland Rice first team All-American at guard, UP All-American second team at tackle, and AP All-American third team at tackle.[1][3][5]

Awards and accolades

His biography at the University of Michigan Athletic History site says: "Originally a center he was shifted to guard, then back to center where his accurate passes were a vital factor in Michigan's famed single-winged attack. Smart and aggressive, he never turned in a performance below the high standard he set for himself."[9]

Sportswriter Grantland Rice wrote that Pregulman was "fast and alert ... was voted the best combination center, guard, and tackle the Middlewest had known in years."[5]

In addition to his father, Pregulman said he had three heroes in his life: Michigan Coach Fritz Crisler, Michigan's line coach (and future Michigan State head coach) Biggie Munn, and Axle Martin, a university professor.[2]

In 1969, Pregulman was selected for the Michigan Wolverines' all-time football team. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982 and the University of Michigan Hall of Honor in 1988.[1][10] He was also part of the second group inducted into the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.[11]

In 2005, Pregulman was selected as one of the 100 greatest Michigan football players of all time by the "Motown Sports Revival," ranking 61st on the all-time team.[12]

Service in World War II

In 1944, Pregulman was inducted into the United States Navy where he served as a gunnery officer on the USS Taluga in the Pacific Theater of Operations.[2] The Taluga left Norfolk, Virginia in October 1944. On December 10, 1944, the ship reached Ulithi, an atoll in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean, which served as her base of operations until the end of World War II. For the next 11 months, Pregulman and the Taluga crew were in and out of Ulithi picking up oil and other supplies there and carrying them to units of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. During that time, they supported carrier strikes and landings on Luzon in the Philippine Islands, landings on Okinawa, strikes on Formosa, and the final sweep of the Japanese home islands in the summer of 1945. Between April and July 1945, Pregulman and the Taluga crew spent much of their time in and around the anchorage at Kerama Retto, just west of the southern end of Okinawa. At dawn on April 16, 1945, ten kamikazes attacked their formation. One of the kamikazes dove at Taluga, strafed her deck, and then made for her superstructure. The attacker careened off the ship's bridge and hit the wheelhouse. However, only 12 men were injured, and the oiler was soon back in action. Pregulman normally would have been in the wheelhouse, but he went on deck just before the attack. He recalled: "If he had been five minutes later, I would have been in the wheelhouse and I certainly wouldn't be here." He recalled that the plane sheared off the top of the wheelhouse, and blew a hole in the deck, but no American soldiers were killed. [2]

Just 11 days after the cessation of hostilities, Taluga entered Tokyo Bay on August 26, 1945, and took up duty as station oiler until early October. On November 18, 1945, the ship left Japan to support ships engaged in the occupation of China and Korea. She visited Tsingtao and Jinsen before returning to Yokosuka, Japan, on December 6, 1945. On January 31, 1946, the Taluga began its return to the United States, arriving in San Pedro, California, on February 16.

Professional football

Merv Pregulman
1948 Bowman football card

Green Bay Packers

Pregulman was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the first round (seventh choice overall) of the 1944 NFL Draft, but he was called into military service in the Navy. After completing his military service, Pregulman finally played for the Packers in the 1946 season. After playing under Fritz Crisler at Michigan, Pregulman played for another legend in Green Bay, Coach Curly Lambeau. He appeared in nine games for a Packers' team that had a 6-5 record in 1946.

Detroit Lions

He played the 1947 and 1948 seasons for the Detroit Lions. The Lions were a weak team during Pregulman's years with them. They went 3-9 in 1947 and 2-10 in 1948, and Pregulman played in all 24 games for the Lions in those seasons. He had three interceptions and recovered three opponent fumbles for the Lions. He also handled the Lions' kicking duties in 1948, kicking two field goals in six attempts, and completing 26 extra points in 27 attempts. He also had a punt return for nine yards (8 m) in 1947.

New York Bulldogs

In 1949, he played in all 12 games for the New York Bulldogs team that went 1-10-1. After the 1949 season with Bulldogs, and three years of playing for teams with a combined record of 6-29-1, Pregulman retired from football.

Business career

After his football career ended, Pregulman initially went into the furniture business.[1]

In 1957, Pregulman moved with his wife Helen to her hometown, Chattanooga, Tennessee.[3] His wife was the granddaughter of Robert Hyman Siskin, the founder of Siskin Steel & Supply Co.[2][13] The company was started in 1900 by Siskin, a Lithuanian immigrant, as a small scrap metal business.[14] His two sons, Mose and Garrison Siskin expanded the company into one of Chattanooga's leading businesses.[13][14]

In 1978, when Mose Siskin died, Pregulman was named president and chief executive officer.[3][15] In 1980, Siskin was generating about $50 million in annual revenues. Under Pregulman's management over the next 15 years the company's annual revenues tripled to $151 million, as the company expanded its operations throughout the Southeast.[15] In 1985, Siskin bought Birmingham, Alabama-based Steel Supply Company, which subsequently took on the Siskin name. Next, Siskin built a 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) steel service center in Nashville in 1989 to cut transportation costs and accommodate Nissan Motors and Saturn Corporation automobile plants in the area.[15]

When Pregulman retired, his son John Pregulman took over as the company's president.[13]

In 1996, Siskin Steel was sold to Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. for $71 million in cash.[16][17] Under an agreement with Reliance Steel, the company remained under local management with Merv Pregulman continuing to serve as vice-chairman, and his son John Pregulman continuing as president.[16][17] In 2002, John Pregulman left Siskin.[15]

Philanthropy and community service

Over the past 50 years, Pregulman has become one of the most respected community leaders and philanthropists in Chattanooga.

While he was president of Siskin Steel, Pregulman was also the chairman of the Siskin Memorial Foundation and played a lead role in building the Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation, one of the leading rehabiliation centers in the United States.[2][13][14] Even after he retired, he remained active as the Foundation's vice-chairman. [3]

His other leadership roles in the Chattanooga community include the following:

  • Pregulman is a former president of the Jewish Community Federation of Greater Chattanooga. Pregulman noted that local Jews use the Federation as common ground for Chattanooga's diverse Orthodox, Conservative and Reform congregations. Pregulman said: "It ties together all the various different philosophies."[18]
  • He also played an important role in raising money to build Finley Stadium, opened in 1997, and has served on the board of directors for the Finley Stadium/Davenport Field Corporation.[2][3]

Pregulman has been particularly active in community service efforts directed at improving health care and has received awards from the Tennessee Medical Association and the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Medical Society.[3]

In 1997, Pregulman and his wife were given Chattanooga's top philanthropist honor at the 10th Annual National Philanthropy Day Luncheon and Award presentation, for their varied efforts since moving to Chattanooga in 1957.[19] After his wife spoke, Pregulman told the attendees: "Helen (his wife) comes by charity work very honestly. When you talk about philanthropy and community there's no need to write them down on paper, the words come from the heart."[19]

In 1998, Pregulman and his wife Helen (also a U-M graduate) endowed a scholarship at the University of Michigan. The Mervin and Helen S. Pregulman Endowed Scholarship Fund is awarded based on students' leadership ability, financial need, and commitment to work in the Jewish community after graduation.[5] Pregulman said: "Helen and I are committed to Jewish communal service. We see it as essential to the health and vitality of the Jewish communities throughout the world. The students ... will play an integral role in administration and related activities at synagogues and Jewish Community Centers in the future. We hope to encourage more leadership from our young adults through this scholarship program."[5]

In 2004, Pregulman was the 13th person to receive the Gerald R. Ford Award. The award is the highest honor bestowed on a former University of Michigan athlete and is given for "excellence in scholarship, sport and society."[2][20]

Pregulman was also a vocal opponent of efforts in 2005 to impose historic district zoning restrictions on the Missionary Ridge area of Chattanooga, where Pregulman lives. The ridge was the site of a Civil War battle and is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Pregulman argued that historic zoning would limit the rights of property owners: "We live with enough restrictions. We don't need them."[21]

A transcript of an interview with Pregulman is part of the American Jewish Committee Oral History Collection at the New York Public Library.[22]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "College Football Hall of Fame: Merv Pregulman". National Football Foundation. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Woolwine, Sam (2004-06-06). "Pregulman's latest award presidential". Chattanooga Times Free Press.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Woolwine, Sam (2024-01-04). "Michigan display pains Pregulman". Chattanooga Times Free Press.  
  4. ^ a b "University of Michigan Athletics, 1941 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. February 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  5. ^ a b c d e "Mervin Pregulman Tackle, 1943". Jews in Sports. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  6. ^ "University of Michigan Athletics, 1942 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. February 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  7. ^ "University of Michigan Football All-American: Julius Franks". The Regents of the University of Michigan. February 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-26.  
  8. ^ a b "University of Michigan Athletics, 1943 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. February 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  9. ^ "University of Michigan Football All-American Mervin Pregulman Tackle, 1943". The Regents of the University of Michigan. February 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  10. ^ "Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor". The Regents of the University of Michigan. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  11. ^ "Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame". Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame]. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  12. ^ "100 Greatest Michigan Football Players of All-Time". Motown Sports Revival. Retrieved 2007-12-09.  
  13. ^ a b c d Anderson, Lee (2000-05-02). "Siskin: Century of Steel and Service". Chattanooga Times Free Press.  
  14. ^ a b c "Siskin Steel's History". Siskin Steel & Supply Co.. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  15. ^ a b c d Dinger, Ed (1999). "Siskin Steel & Supply Co.". International Directory of Company Histories. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  16. ^ a b Anderson, Lee (2006-10-01). "Siskin: Only in America". Chattanooga Times Free Press.  
  17. ^ a b "Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. announces agreement to acquire Siskin Steel & Supply Co. Inc. for $71 million in cash; largest acquisition to date and first in Southeastern U.S". Business Wire. 2006-09-30. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  18. ^ Cooper, Clint (2006-09-23). "Keeping the faith: Jewish Federation marks 75 years of programs for Jewish, wider communities". Chattanooga Times Free Press.  
  19. ^ a b Hancock, Jamie (1997-11-06). "At 10th Annual Awards Luncheon; Pregulmans Win Philanthropic Top Prize". Chattanooga Times Free Press.  
  20. ^ "Merv Pregulman brings U-M family together". The Regents of the University of Michigan. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  
  21. ^ Davis, Michael (2005-07-17). "Missionary Ridge legacy". Chattanooga Times Free Press.  
  22. ^ "American Jewish Committee Oral History Collection". New York Public Library. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  

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