Norm Van Brocklin: Wikis

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Norm Van Brocklin
Position(s)
Quarterback
Punter
Jersey #(s)
11, 25
Born March 15, 1926(1926-03-15)
Parade, South Dakota
Died May 2, 1983 (aged 57)
Social Circle, Georgia
Career information
Year(s) 19491960
NFL Draft 1949 / Round: 4 / Pick: 37
College Oregon
Professional teams
Career stats
TD-INT 173-178
Yards 23,611
QB Rating 75.1
Stats at NFL.com
Career highlights and awards

Norman Mack "Norm" Van Brocklin (March 15, 1926 – May 2, 1983), nicknamed "The Dutchman", was an American football player and coach. He was also a first rate punter in college and in the NFL. Van Brocklin was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

Contents

Early life

Van Brocklin was born in Parade, Dewey County, South Dakota, to Mack and Ethel Van Brocklin.[citation needed] He played high school football at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, California.

Van Brocklin served in the United States Navy from 1943 through 1945.

College career

Van Brocklin led the Oregon Ducks to a 16-5 record as a starter, including tying with Cal for the 1948 title of the Pacific Coast Conference, forerunner of the Pac-10. Oregon did not go to the Rose Bowl, however, because Cal was voted by the other schools to represent the PCC in the game. Among the Cal voters was the University of Washington, which arguably started the Oregon-Washington rivalry. Oregon received an invitation to play SMU in the 1949 Cotton Bowl, which they accepted. It was the first time that a Pacific Coast team played in a major bowl game other than the Rose Bowl. SMU won 20–13.[1] That season, Van Brocklin was honored with an All-America selection[2] and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting[3]. Coincidentally, the Heisman Trophy winner that year was SMU running back Doak Walker. Both Walker and Van Brocklin got Outstanding Player recognition for their performance in the Cotton Bowl.[4]

Van Brocklin left Oregon for the NFL with one remaining year of college eligibility. At that time, a player wasn't allowed to join the NFL until four years after graduating from high school. Though he had only been at the University of Oregon for three years, he was eligible due to the his time in the Navy during World War II.

Professional playing career

Van Brocklin was drafted in the fourth round (37th overall) of the 1949 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He joined a team that already had a star quarterback, Bob Waterfield. Beginning in 1950, new Rams coach Joe Stydahar solved his problem by platooning Waterfield and Van Brocklin. The 1950 Rams scored an (at that time) NFL record 466 points (38.8 per game) with a high octane passing attack featuring Tom Fears and Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch. Fears led the league and set a new NFL record with 84 receptions. Van Brocklin and Waterfield finished 1-2 in passer rating as well. They were defeated by the Cleveland Browns in the 1950 title game, 30-28.

In 1951, Van Brocklin and Waterfield again split quarterbacking duties and the Rams again won the West. That year, Hirsch set an NFL record with 1,495 receiving yards and tied Don Hutson's record of 17 touchdown receptions. This time, the Rams won the title rematch against Cleveland, 24-17. Waterfield (9-24, 125 yards) took most of the snaps, but Van Brocklin (4-6, 128 yards) threw the game winner of 73 yards to Fears. This was the last Rams championship until 1999. Also in 1951, on September 28, Van Brocklin threw for 554 yards, breaking Johnny Lujack's single-game record of 468, a mark that still stands more than a half-century later.

From 1952 to 1957, Van Brocklin continued to quarterback the Rams, leading them to the title game again in 1955. In that game, the Browns defeated the Rams 38-14 while Van Brocklin threw six interceptions.

In 1958, Van Brocklin joined the Philadelphia Eagles under famed head coach, Buck Shaw. Shaw gave Van Brocklin total control of the Eagle offense. Steadily, Van Brocklin improved the Eagles attack. In the 1960 NFL championship game, throwing to his favorite receiver, 5' 9", 176 pound Tommy McDonald, Van Brocklin quarterbacked the Eagles to victory against the Green Bay Packers. In a game dominated by defense, he led a fourth quarter comeback resulting in a final score of 17-13.

During his 12-year career, Van Brocklin played on two championship teams in the National Football League: the 1951 Los Angeles Rams and the 1960 Philadelphia Eagles. Following the latter triumph, he retired. As it turned out, his Eagles team would be the only team to defeat the Packers in a championship game during Vince Lombardi's tenure as Green Bay's head coach. Van Brocklin led the NFL in passing three times and in punting twice. On nine occasions, he was selected to the Pro Bowl.

Coaching career

Van Brocklin cut his ties with the Eagles after his belief that the team had reneged on an agreement to name him head coach to replace the retiring Buck Shaw. On January 18, 1961, he accepted the head coaching position for the expansion Minnesota Vikings and over the next six years Van Brocklin compiled a record of 29-51-4. The tenure was highlighted by his contentious relationship with quarterback Fran Tarkenton, a feud that culminated with Van Brocklin's resignation on February 11, 1967. Tarkenton was traded shortly after Van Brocklin's departure to the New York Giants, but reacquired by Van Brocklin's successor, Bud Grant, in 1972.

During his first year off the field in over two decades, Van Brocklin served as a commentator on 1967 NFL broadcasts for CBS.

On October 1, 1968, he took over as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, replacing Norb Hecker, who had started the season with three defeats, extending the team losing streak to ten games. Over the next seven seasons, Van Brocklin had mixed results, putting together a 37-49-3 mark. He led the team to its first winning season in 1971 with a 7-6-1 record, then challenged for a playoff spot two years later with a 9-5 mark. However, after winning just two of his first eight games in 1974, he was fired.

Final years

Following his dismissal, Van Brocklin returned to his pecan farm in Social Circle, Georgia. His only connections to football during this era were as a running backs coach for Georgia Tech in 1979, and as a college football broadcaster.

Van Brocklin suffered a number of illnesses, including a brain tumor. After it was removed, he told the press, "It was a brain transplant. They gave me a sportswriter's brain, to make sure I got one that hadn't been used." He died on May 3, 1983, the day after suffering a stroke.

References

  1. ^ "Year-by-Year Bowl Facts", Official 2007 NCAA Division I Football Records Book, National Collegiate Athletic Association, p. 366, 2007.
  2. ^ "Norm "The Dutchman" Van Brocklin". http://www.collegefootball.org/famersearch.php?id=40091. Retrieved February 16 2010. 
  3. ^ "Winners". http://www.heisman.com/winners/d-walker48.php. Retrieved February 16 2010. 
  4. ^ 1949 Classic Recap (pdf format)

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Bob Waterfield
Los Angeles Rams Quarterbacks
1950–1957
Succeeded by
Billy Wade
Preceded by
Bobby Thomason
Philadelphia Eagles Quarterbacks
1958–1960
Succeeded by
Sonny Jurgensen
Preceded by
Norb Hecker
Atlanta Falcons Head Coaches
1968–1974
Succeeded by
Marion Campbell
Preceded by
First coach
Minnesota Vikings Head Coaches
1961–1967
Succeeded by
Bud Grant
Awards
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Simple English

Norm Van Brocklin (March 15, 1926May 2, 1983) was an American football coach for the Atlanta Falcons. He is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame as a player for the Los Angeles Rams (1949-1957) and the Philadelphia Eagles (1958-1960)


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