Deceased Football Autographs

Buried With Their Cleats On

Nick "Bull" Adduci  (1929-2005)

Linebacker—(Nebraska) Washington Redskins 1954-55

 

Nick Adduci is buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Frankfort, Illinois.

Rex Berry  (1924-2005)

Defensive Back/Halfback—(Brigham Young) San Francisco 49ers 1951-56

My best games were against the Rams.  Probably because I started worrying that [Crazylegs] Hirsch and [Tank] Younger would make me look bad in front of 102,000 spectators.  They never did.
    Rex Berry

 

 

Rex Berry autographed this 1950 Ev Thorpe cartoon.  He is buried in Mountain View Memorial Estates Cemetery, Cottonwood Heights, Utah.

John "Rebel" Bookman  (1934-1995)

Defensive Back—(Miami) New York Giants 1957, Dallas Texans 1960, New York Jets 1961

 

John Bookman is buried in Roselawn Memorial Park, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Billy "Book" Bookout  (1932-2008)

Cornerback—(Oklahoma/Austin College) Green Bay Packers 1955-56   [Little All-American 1954]

 

Don “Blade” Burroughs  (1931-2006)

Defensive Back—(Colorado A&M) Los Angeles Rams 1955-59, Philadelphia Eagles 1960-64

I had too many interceptions that year [1960]; I cost myself money.  Vince McNally said he'd give me a $100 bonus for every interception, then he'd double it at a certain point. At midseason, he said, “Blade, I can't do it. It's going to cost me too much.”
    Don Burroughs

 

See the entry for Jim David (below) for a 1951 cartoon signed by both Burroughs and David.

Fred "Tank" Cardinal  (1925- 2004)

Linebacker—(Notre Dame/Baldwin Wallace) New York Yankees 1947

 

Tom “Tom-Cat” Catlin (1931-2008)

Linebacker/Center—(Oklahoma) Cleveland Browns 1953-54,1957-58, Philadelphia Eagles 1959 [All-American 1951-52]

Tommy Catlin had gotten loose from the service [in 1957] and his quiet football knowledge would become an important part of our defense.
    Don Paul

Gerry Cowhig  (1921-1995)

Linebacker/Fullback—(Notre Dame) Los Angeles Rams 1947-49, Chicago Cardinals 1950, Philadelphia Eagles 1951

Gerry was one tough football player. He was big even by pro football standards and he'd just as soon run over you as go around. And he was a ferocious blocker.

     Adam Walsh

Gerry Cowhig was one of more than a dozen players who autographed this Notre Dame football banquet program on 8 December 1942.  The program was given to me by Jane O'Connor, widow of  Bill "Bucky" O'Connor.

Jim "The Hatchet" David  (1927-2007)

Defensive Halfback—(Colorado A & M) Detroit Lions 1952-59   [All Pro 1954]

He was the roughest who ever played that position.  If a line judge wandered into his area he was looking for trouble.  Well, Harlan Hill, who was playing flanker for Chicago, came into Jim David's territory on a little look-out pattern.  The Chicago quarterback threw the ball to someone else, but that didn't make any difference to Jim David, no sir.  Someone was in his area, so David took a few steps and whack! he broke Harlan Hill's jaw.  Hill got to bleeding pretty bad, so George Halas, the Chicago coach, took him out and sent in some guy whose only function was to get revenge on Jim David.  And he did, too.  He hit Jim David and busted his teeth.  All his teeth just fell out.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  David stayed in the game, wobbling around, his jersey just red with blood, and it was a horrible sight.
    Alex Karras

Jim David and Don Burroughs autographed this 1951 Ev Thorpe cartoon.

Andy Davis (1927-2007)

Defensive Back—(George Washington) Washington Redskins 1952

 

Jerry "Weasel" Davis  (1924-2006)

Defensive Halfback—(Southeastern Louisiana) Chicago Cardinals 1948-51, Dallas Texans 1952

 

Jack Doolan  (1919-2002)

Defensive Back/Wingback/Offensive End/Defensive End—(Georgetown) Georgia Pre-flight Skycrackers 1942, Lakehurst Naval Air Station Blimps 1942; Washington Redskins 1945, New York Giants 1945-46, Chicago Cardinals 1947-48

I always gained 3 or 4 pounds.  The California trip was always a big trip. We'd get to see Jane Russell, Bob Waterfield's wife.
    Jack Doolan, on
    traveling by train
    to play on the West Coast

Harry Dowda  (1922-1996)

Defensive Back—(Wake Forest) Washington Redskins 1949-53, Philadelphia Eagles 1954-56

Chuck Drazenovich  (1927-1992)

Linebacker—(Penn State) Washington Redskins 1950-59

 

Al Drulis  (1921-2008)

Linebacker/Fullback/Blocking Back/Quarterback—(Temple) Chicago Cardinals 1945-46, Pittsburgh Steelers 1947; Portsmouth Pirates (Dixie League) 1946, Richmond Rebels (AFL) 1948

 

Neil "Ferris-Can-Wheel" Ferris  (1927-1996)

Defensive Back/Halfback—(Loyola) Washington Redskins 1951-52, Philadelphia Eagles 1952, Los Angeles Rams 1953, British Columbia Lions (CFL) 1954

 

Neil Ferris is buried in Lake Havasu Memorial Gardens, Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Galen Fiss (1931- 2006)

Linebacker—(Kansas) Cleveland Browns 1956-66

The cast [temporary cast on his left hand] did have its benefits.  Slap people upside the head with that cast, you really get their attention.  In practice, I’d make a real pest out of myself, whacking people in the head with my cast.  For games, we had to cover it with rubber and the officials inspected it, but it was still like a club.  The cast went from my knuckles to about two thirds of the way to my elbow.  The darn thing probably weighed two or three pounds, and by the time you swing your hand and land one, it’s going to have an effect.
    Galen Fiss

Galen Fiss's cremated remains were given to family.

George "Bill" Forester  (1932-2007)

Linebacker—(Southern Methodist) Green Bay Packers 1953-63 [All-Pro 1960-63]

He was a tough dude, boy, he really was. [After one game], his ankle was as big as his calf or thigh, but by God, he didn't miss a game. He kind of drawled, he really didn't talk. He was a prince of a young man.
    Jim Temp

Bill Forester is buried in Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park, Dallas, Texas.

Tom Franckhauser  (1937-1997)

Defensive Back—(Purdue) Los Angeles Rams 1959, Dallas Cowboys 1960-61, Minnesota Vikings 1962-63

Tom Franckhauser is buried in Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park, Dallas, Texas.

Bobby "Goose" Freeman  (1932-2003)

Defensive Back/Safety—(Auburn) Cleveland Browns 1957-58, Green Bay Packers 1959, Philadelphia Eagles 1960-61, Washington Redskins 1962

Paul Brown wasn't going to resign himself to a loser's status.  He was going to field a winner.  We were going to be competitive as all hell in 1957, and we were going to start by competing with each other.   Fiercely.  The annual Survival of the Fittest.  I wasn't to get my starting spot back automatically either.  All-Pro or not.  Paul Brown, the master of the psychological needle, simply introduced me to a good-looking rookie out of Auburn, told me the kid was interested in learning to play right cornerback, and left us without another word.  Bobby Freeman was shot in the ass with talentan outstanding prospect.  and, like most veterans, I felt an obligaiton to help the kid learn the trade—as I'd been helped.  I also felt it was my duty to point out the pitfalls awaiting a rookie at right corner: standing all alone out there in front of God and 70,000 people, watching as a Tommy MacDonald or Raymond Berry comes running at you, about to fake you completely out of your jock.  freeman turned out to be a most considerate rookie.  He screwed up his knee in camp, and by the time he'd returned to full speed, my name was back on the office door.

     Don Paul 

 

Bobby Freeman's grave is in Auburn Memorial Park, Auburn, Alabama. 

Hank Gremminger  (1934-2001)

Cornerback/Safety—(Baylor) Green Bay Packers 1956-65, Los Angeles Rams 1966 [All-American 1955]

He was a steady player. He wasn't a spectacular-type like Willie Wood was, but he was just a steady ballplayer.
    Red Cochran

Hank Gremminger is buried in Memory Gardens, Weatherford, Texas.

Howard "Rabbit" Hartley  (1924-2006)

Defensive Halfback—(Duke) Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Training Base Commandos 1944; Washington Redskins 1948, Pittsburgh Steelers 1949-52

Howard Hartley is buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park, Greenville, South Carolina.

Norb Hecker  (1927-2004)

Safety/End—(Baldwin-Wallace) Los Angeles Rams 1951-53, Toronto Argonauts (CFL) 1954, Washington Redskins 1955-57, Hamilton TigerCats (CFL) 1958; Coach—Atlanta Falcons 1966-68 [Little All-American 1950]

To survive those training camps was a real feat.  They were there to get you in shape. It was brutal in some cases - guys were passing out.  I can remember players going through six weeks of training camp, getting cut, and paying their own way home in some cases.  Not one red nickel for six weeks of work.
    Norb Hecker, on Rams’
    training camp at Redlands College

 

Jerry "Three Star" Hennessy  (1926-2000)

Defensive End—(Santa Clara) San Diego Naval Training Center Bluejackets 1944; Chicago Cardinals 1950-51, Washington Redskins 1952-53

 

Jack Hoffman  (1930- 2001)

Defensive End—(Xavier) Chicago Bears 1952,1955-58

 

Jack Hoffman is buried in St. Marys Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Wayne "Bob" Hoffman  (1917-2005)

Linebacker/Fullback/Blocking Back—(Southern California) Washington Redskins 1940-41, Hollywood Rangers (Independent) 1945, Hollywood Bears (PCFL) 1945, Los Angeles Rams 1946-48, Los Angeles Dons 1949

 

Irv "Huck" Holdash  (1929-1992)

Center/Linebacker—(North Carolina) [All-American 1950]

I was drafted by the Cleveland Browns (1951) but first had to report to the Army for a two year period . . . .I had my try-out in 1954.  After three weeks I was cut—at 200 pounds Paul Brown felt I was too light to back up their line.  I was then called by the Winnipeg "Blue Bombers" in the Canadian League.  "Cut again" . . . .  CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS LETTER SENT TO ME BY IRV HOLDASH IN 1990

 

Irv Holdash is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

Farnham "Gunner" Johnson  (1924-2001)

Defensive End—(Wisconsin/Michigan) Camp Lejeune Marines 1944; Chicago Bears 1947, Chicago Rockets 1948

[In] 1947, I played for Bears in All-Star game and exhibitions (tore hamstring against Eagles).  Was with them in opener at Green Bay, but injury didn't heal for six months.  Was paid in full, however.
    Farnham Johnson

 

Farnham Johnson is buried Corinth National Cemetery, Corinth, Mississippi.

Tom Keane  (1926-2001)

Defensive Back/Receiver—(Ohio State/West Virginia) Los Angeles Rams 1948-51, Dallas Texans 1952, Baltimore Colts 1953-54, Chicago Cardinals 1955  [All Pro 1953]

  

Veto Kissell (1927-1997)

Linebacker/Fullback—(Holy Cross) Buffalo Bills 1949, Baltimore Colts 1950

 

Gene Knutson  (1932-2008)

Defensive End—(Michigan) Green Bay Packers 1954, 1956

Somebody for some reason decided to take a swipe at my head and my helmet came off.  It also took part of my ear lobe with it.  I remember waking up on the field.  I think it's the only time that I ever remember passing out because when I was standing there with the doctors and trainer, I noticed all the blood on my uniform and I thought about cleaning that, but I seemed to be OK.  Then the trainer said, "Well, what shall we do with his ear?"  The doctor said, "Well, we'll just sew it right back on."  When I heard that, I passed out.  That was in an exhibition game against either the Eagles or the Redskins. . . . CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS INTERVIEW THAT I DID WITH GENE KNUTSON IN 2007

 

I interviewed Gene on 6 May 2007.  The above quote is taken from my transcription of that interview.

Gene Knutson is buried in St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park, Granger, Indiana.

Jack Lininger  (1927-2002)

Linebacker/Center—(Ohio State) Detroit Lions 1950-51

 

Jack Lininger declined to give me his signature ("Sorry no signatures"), but he did print his name on a questionnaire sheet that I sent him.

Howie Livingston  (1922-1994)

Defensive Back/Fullback/Wingback/Halfback—(Fullerton JC) New York Giants 1944-47, Washington Redskins 1948-50, San Francisco 49ers 1950, Chicago Bears 1953  [#1 Interceptions 1944]

Howie Livingston autographed the cover of a 19 November 1944 New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers game program. The program was autographed by more than a dozen Giants players and was given to me in 1995 by Rusty Kane, a tackle on the Giants.

James "Jungle Jim" Martin  (1924-2002)

Linebacker/Kicker—(Notre Dame) Cleveland Browns 1950, Detroit Lions 1951-61, Baltimore Colts 1963, Washington Redskins 1964  [All-American 1949, College Football Hall of Fame 1995; #1 Field Goals 1963]

The Chicago crowd came running out on the field, and everybody started to slug everybody.  It was catching, like some sort of quick-moving disease.  Jim Martin was standing over on the sidelines.  He was our place-kicker, and he'd been in the Marines, and he was a Notre Dame man, and he was a little crazy, too.  While he was watching what was going on, a cop came up alongside, Martin saw him, turned, and hit him with a short, stiff right hand.  Absolutely great punch.  The cop went "boing" and down he went.  I don't know why Martin did it—maybe because he'd always had a hankering to hit a policeman and it seemed as good a time as any.  Playing in Chicago always drives you a little nuts anyway.
    John Gordy

Dick "Sticks" Nolan  (1932-2007)

Defensive Back—(Maryland) New York Giants 1954-57,1959-61, Chicago Cardinals 1958, Dallas Cowboys 1962; Coach—San Francisco 49ers 1968-75, New Orleans Saints 1978-80

Bob Hollway was the only killjoy I ever played for . . . until I got to the [New Orleans] Saints and met Dick Nolan.  He tried to do things the way Tom Landry did them in Dallas and he wasn't successful, because he wasn't Tom Landry.  He refused to believe that part of his job was to motivate players . . . .We could have gotten a wall to coach us and it would have been just as effective.  The man had the personality of a grapefruit.
    Conrad Dobler

Bob Nussbaumer  (1924-1997)

Defensive Back/Halfback—(Michigan) Green Bay Packers 1946,1951, Washington Redskins 1947-48, Chicago Cardinals 1949-50  [#1 Interceptions 1949]

 

Joe Parker  (1923-1998)

Defensive End—(Texas) Pearl Harbor Pacific All-Stars 1945; Chicago Cardinals 1946-47   [All-American 1943]

Back then [1941 at Texas], we had to play thump poker.  Do you know what thump poker is? We didn't have any money to play, so if we won, we'd thump everybody on the head.
    Joe Parker

 

Joe Parker is buried in Riverland Cemetery, Stanfield, Texas.

Don Paul  (1926-2001)

Defensive Back/Halfback—(Washington State) Chicago Cardinals 1950-53, Cleveland Browns 1954-58  [All Pro 1955]

Brown kept Paul on the team because he was so handsome. He looked good in the hotel lobby.
    Ed Modzelewski

Don Paul inscribed this on the inside front cover of his funny autobiography published in 1988 entitled I Went Both Ways: The Adventures of the NFL's Joyboy During the Fabulous Fifties.  What a wonderful and surprising gift and a really fun book to read.  I've reread it a couple times.

See video clip of Don Paul intercepting a pass in a December 26, 1955 game between the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams. The Browns won with a score of 38-14.

Bob Pellegrini  (1934-2008)

Linebacker—(Maryland) Philadelphia Eagles 1956,1958-61, Washington Redskins 1962-65 [All-American 1955, Knute Rockne Award 1955, College Football Hall of Fame 1996]

Most of all, I owe thanks to my dog.
    Bob Pellegrini, on receiving
    the MVP award for the College All-Stars

Bob Pellegrini is buried in Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Bill Pellington  (1927-1994)

Linebacker—(Rutgers) Baltimore Colts 1953-64

We had a play when I was with the Giants called the "bootsie."  The quarterback would take the ball, kneel down, and the other ten guys would jump on the offending player.  Jim Lee Howell was a guy who wanted us to get somebody if he thought they were playing too rough.  Bill Pellington was a linebacker with the Colts and he was a real mean bastard.  He had hit one of our guys upside the head which Jim Lee thought was unnecessary.  We were playing in the Polo Grounds and [Charley] Conerly called the "bootsie" against Pellington.  [Frank] Gifford was split wide as a flanker and, for whatever reason, Charlie called the play off at the line of scrimmage.  Gifford didn't hear Conerly, so he came off the line of scrimmage, jumped up, and kicked Pellington right in the numbers.  Pellington went nuts and started slamming Gifford around like a rag doll.  When they finally got it stopped, Gifford wandered back to the huddle and said, "What the hell happened?"  It was a wonder that he wasn't killed.
    Pat Summerall

 

Bill Petrilas  (1915-1976)

Defensive Back/Wingback—New York Giants 1944-45

 

Bill Petrilas autographed the cover of a 19 November 1944 New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers game program. The program was autographed by more than a dozen Giants players and was given to me in 1995 by Rusty Kane, a tackle on the Giants.

Herb Rich  (1928-2008)

Safety—(Vanderbilt) Baltimore Colts 1950, Los Angeles Rams 1951-53, New York Giants 1954-56  [All Pro 1952]

I hold record for best avg. punt return for a season (1950 avg. of 23 yds. per return).
    Herb Rich

 

Roy Ruskusky (1921-2001)

Defensive End—(St. Mary’s) Hawaiian Warriors (PCFL) 1946, New York Yankees 1947

 

 

Roy Ruskusky was afflicted with arthritis when he wrote me this letter in 1993. He mentioned he had "a real good year" with the Hawaiian Warriors, but had a "mediocre year, suffered two ruptured discs" with the Yankees in 1947.

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Listen to the Voices of:

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See a Video Clip of:

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