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Joe Stydahar
File:Joe Stydahar.jpg
Born (1912-03-17)March 17, 1912
Kaylor, Pennsylvania
Died March 23, 1977(1977-03-23) (aged 65)
Beckley, West Virginia

Joseph Lee Stydahar (March 17, 1912 – March 23, 1977), sometimes listed as Joseph Leo Stydahar, and sometimes known by the nickname "Jumbo Joe",[1][2] was an American football player and coach. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1972. A native of Kaylor, Pennsylvania, Stydahar grew up in West Virginia and played college football and basketball for the West Virginia Mountaineers. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 1936 NFL Draft and played nine seasons as a tackle for the Bears from 1936 to 1942 and 1945 to 1946. He was selected as a first-team All-Pro five consecutive years from 1936 to 1940 and helped the Bears win NFL championships in 1940, 1942, and 1946 NFL Championship Games.

After his playing career ended, Stydahar was the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams during the 1950 and 1951 seasons and the Chicago Cardinals during the 1953 and 1954 seasons. His 1950 and 1951 Rams teams both advanced to the NFL Championship Game, and the 1951 team won the championship. He also served as an assistant coach for the Rams (1947–1949) and Bears (1963–1965).

Early years[edit | edit source]

Stydahar was born in 1912 in Kaylor, Pennsylvania,[3] the son of Peter P. Stydahar (1877-1970) and Lucille M. Stydahar (1884-1941). At age eight, he moved with his family to Shinnston, West Virginia,[4] where his father was a coal miner, and Stydahar also worked in the mines in his youth.[5] At Shinnston High School, he was regarded as "the greatest schoolboy football and basketball player ever turned out in [West Virginia]."[6]

West Virginia University[edit | edit source]

File:Joe Stydahar WVU.png

Stydahar during his collegiate career at West Virginia.

Stydahar was recruited by both the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University. He initially went to Pittsburgh in the fall of 1931 and participated in the football team's preliminary practices, but then showed up at West Virginia seeking to enroll.[6] According to one account, he returned home after tryouts at Pittsburgh and was taken in a car to Morgantown where he was hidden in a fraternity house by West Virginia football coach Greasy Neale "until Pitt gave up looking for him."[7]

At West Virginia, Stydahar was six feet, four inches, weighed 220 pounds, possessed "one of the largest pairs of hands in the business", and played both basketball and football. He played at the tackle position for the football team from 1933 to 1935 and developed a reputation as a "vicious tackler" and "bruising blocker".[8] As a junior in 1934, he blocked five punts and returned one of the blocks 17 yards for a touchdown. As a senior in 1935, he was responsible for stopping Pittsburgh's running game, holding the Panthers to one first down in the second half.[8]

During Stydahar's three years with the West Virginia football team, the Mountaineers compiled records of and 3-5-3, 6-4, and 3-4-2, and lost three years in a row against Pittsburgh by a combined score of 72 to 12. Sports writer Harry Grayson opined that the team's poor record and the small crowds to which it played impaired Stydahar's chances of being selected to All-America teams.[8] In 1934, Stydahar was ignored by the major All-America selectors, though he reportedly received recognition on an All-American team selected by the players on the NFL's New York Giants.[8] In 1935, the best Stydahar could muster was a selection on the Newspaper Enterprise Association's third team.[9]

Those who saw Stydahar play in college rated him among the best and was selected to play in both the East–West Shrine Game and the Chicago College All-Star Game in 1936.[7][10] Pittsburgh coach Jock Sutherland, despite having been spurned by Stydahar in 1931, rated Stydahar as the best tackle he saw during the 1935 season and added: "I doubt that there is a more formidable tackle in the country."[8] Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger said: "I played in two all-star games with him and thought he was the best tackle by far of that collegiate group. He proved to me in those two games that he was a tremendous player."[2]

In basketball, Stydahar was a three-year letterman at the center position. He set a single-game scoring record with 24 points against West Virginia Wesleyan in 1933.[10]

Professional football player[edit | edit source]

While overlooked by All-America selectors, Stydahar was not overlooked in the 1936 NFL Draft. He was selected by George Halas' Chicago Bears in the first round with the sixth overall pick, becoming the first player drafted by the Bears in the first NFL draft and the first lineman to be selected in the first round.[3][7] As a rookie, Stydahar started all 12 games at left tackle for a 1936 Chicago Bears team that compiled a 9-3 record. He was selected as a first-team All-Pro by Collyer's Eye magazine and a second-team All-Pro by the NFL and UPI.[3]

By 1937, Stydahar helped lead the Bears to the NFL Western Division title with a 9-1-1 record. He was recognized as one of the best players in the NFL, receiving the highest point total of any player at any position in voting for the Associated Press (AP) All-Pro team. The AP reported:

The standout player of the 1937 national pro football league season wasn't Slingin' Sammy Baugh . . ., but Joe Stydahar, veteran tackle of the Chicago Bears. That was the way the coaches of the 10 league clubs figured, at least, when it came to casting their ballots for the all-league team. . . . Stydahar received 43 points out of a possible 50.[11]

Stydahar played nine years as a tackle for the Bears from 1936 to 1942 and from 1945 to 1946, appearing in 84 NFL games.[3] He continued to be acknowledged as one of the best players in the league through the 1930s. In 1939, the United Press rated him as "the league's best tackle" and "one of the toughest linemen in the league to take out."[12] He was also ranked third among all NFL players in points received in the AP's 1939 All-Pro voting, trailing only Don Hutson and Dan Fortmann.[13] In all, he was selected as a first-team All-Pro five consecutive years from 1936 to 1940.[3] During his time with the club, the Bears won five NFL Western Division titles (1937, 1940, 1941, 1942, and 1946) and won the 1940, 1942, and 1946 NFL Championship Games.

Stydahar missed the 1943 and 1944 NFL seasons due to military service during World War II. He served as a lieutenant and gunnery officer in the United States Navy on the USS Monterey light aircraft carrier.[7]

Coaching career[edit | edit source]

Los Angeles Rams[edit | edit source]

In February 1947, Stydahar was hired by the Los Angeles Rams as an assistant coach.[14] He served three years as the Rams' line coach from 1947 to 1949.[15]

In February 1950, Sydahar took over as the Rams' head coach.[15] In his first season as head coach, he led the 1950 Rams to the NFL Western Division championship with a 9-3 record and the top offense in the NFL (38.8 points per game).[16] In the 1950 NFL Championship Game, the Rams lost, 30-28, to the Cleveland Browns on a field goal by Lou Groza with 27 seconds remaining in the game.

In his second season with the Rams, Stydahar led the 1951 Rams to the NFL championship with a victory over the Cleveland Browns in the 1951 NFL Championship Game.[17]

Stydahar began the 1952 season as the Rams' head coach. After losing to the Cleveland Browns in the season opener, dissension between Stydahar and his backfield coach Hampton Pool became public.[18] On September 30, Stydahar reached an agreement with Rams owner Dan Reeves under which Stydahar resigned and was paid him $11,900 to buy out his contract, and Pool was promoted as the new head coach.[19]

Green Bay Packers[edit | edit source]

In mid-November 1952, Stydahar was hired by the Green Bay Packers.[20] He served as a scout and part-time assistant coach for the balance of the 1952 season.[21]

Chicago Cardinals[edit | edit source]

In January 1953, he was hired as head coach of the Chicago Cardinals.[21] His Cardinals teams compiled records of 1–10–1 in 1953 and 2–10 in 1954.[22][23] In June 1955, Stydahar and the Cardinals reached an agreement buying out the remainder of his three-year contract with the club.[24]

Chicago Bears[edit | edit source]

In February 1963, George Halas hired Stydahar as defensive line coach for the Chicago Bears.[25] Stydahar was credited with overhauling the Bears defensive line,[26] helping to lead the 1963 Bears to the best scoring defense in the NFL and an NFL championship.[27] The Bears dropped to sixth place in the Western Division in 1964,[28] and Stydahar resigned from his position with the club at the end of the 1964 season in order devote his efforts to his work for a corrugated carton company.[29]

Head coaching record[edit | edit source]

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
LA 1950 9 3 0 .750 1st in NFL National 1 1 .500 Lost to Cleveland Browns in NFL Championship.
LA 1951 8 4 0 .667 1st in NFL National 1 0 1.000 NFL Champions.
LA 1952 0 1 0 .000 2nd in NFL National 0 0 .000
LA total 17 8 0 .680 2 1 .667
CHI 1953 1 10 1 .091 6th in NFL Eastern
CHI 1954 2 10 0 .167 6th in NFL Eastern
CHI total 3 20 1 .130
NFL total[30] 20 28 1 .417 2 1 .667
Total 20 28 1 .417 2 1 .667

Honors and awards[edit | edit source]

Stydahar received numerous honors for his football career, including the following:

  • In 1950, he was one of the 25 charter inductees into the Helms Athletic Foundation's Professional Football Hall of Fame.[31]
  • In 1960, he was named to Sports Illustrated's Silver Anniversary All-America team.[32]
  • In 1967, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[33]
  • In 1969, Stydahar was named to the NFL 1930s All-Decade Team.[34]
  • In 1972, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.[4]
  • In 1991, he was elected into the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame.[10]

Family and later years[edit | edit source]

Stydahar married Yolanda Monet Margo in 1947. They were later divorced, but they had three sons,[35] David (born 1948),[36] Joseph (born 1952),[37] and George,[35] and a daughter, Stephanie (born 1955).[38]

After being released by the Cardinals, Stydahar remained in the Chicago area where he had formed a cardboard box business with a partner. He continued in that business into the 1960s.[24][39] In his later years, Stydahar lived in Highland Park, Illinois, where he was the eastern regional manager for a container company. He died of heart failure in 1977 at age 65 while on a business trip in Beckley, West Virginia.[5] He was buried at the Shinnston Memorial Cemetery.[40]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Joe Stydahar Bio". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/players/joe-stydahar/biography/. Retrieved October 9, 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Joe "Jumbo Joe" Stydahar". National Football Foundation. http://www.footballfoundation.org/Programs/CollegeFootballHallofFame/SearchDetail.aspx?id=30142. Retrieved October 8, 2017. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Joe Stydahar". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/S/StydJo20.htm. Retrieved October 4, 2017. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Stydahar Joins Grid Greats". February 17, 1972. p. 5C. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14309020/stydahar_joins_grid_greats/. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Football Great Stydahar Dies, Had Planned To Live In Beckley". March 25, 1977. p. 17. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14249219/football_great_stydahar_dies_had/. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "The Mountaineers All Worked Up Over the Stydahar Case". September 20, 1931. p. 41. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14261274/the_mountaineers_are_all_worked_up_over/. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Services set for ex-Bear Stydahar". March 25, 1977. p. 4-1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14249890/services_set_for_exbear_stydahar/. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Harry Grayson (November 12, 1935). "By Harry Grayson". p. 10. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14263062/by_harry_grayson_joe_stydahar/. 
  9. Bernard Bierman (December 2, 1935). "Southern Players Get Grid Spotlight". The Maryville (MO) Daily Forum. p. 8. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14263280/southern_players_get_grid_spotlight/. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Joe Stydahar". West Virginia University. http://wvusports.com/hof.aspx?hof=17. Retrieved October 9, 2017. 
  11. "Stydahar, Veteran Bear Tackle, Is Top Grid Pro". December 15, 1937. p. 2. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14270548/stydahar_veteran_bear_tackle_is_top/. 
  12. "Bears Win Three Places on Pro All Star Team". December 14, 1939. p. 21. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14271442/bears_win_three_places_on_pro_all_star/. 
  13. "Four Giants Win Honors". December 15, 1939. p. II-13. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14271252/four_giants_win_honors/. 
  14. "Joe Stydahar to Help Tutor L. A. Rams' Line". February 7, 1947. p. 13. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14250616/joe_stydahar_to_help_tutor_l_a_rams/. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Stydahar To Be Coach Of Rams". February 20, 1950. p. 10. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14251657/stydahar_to_be_coach_of_rams/. 
  16. "1950 Los Angeles Rams Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/ram/1950.htm. Retrieved October 9, 2017. 
  17. "1950 Los Angeles Rams Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/ram/1950.htm. Retrieved October 9, 2017. 
  18. "Trouble Between Coaches Bared". September 30, 1952. p. 5. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14312227/trouble_between_coaches_bared/. 
  19. "Pool Succeeds Stydahar as Ram Coach; Joe Paid, $11,900". October 1, 1952. p. 4-1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14312256/pool_succeeds_stydahar_as_ram_coach/. 
  20. "Joe Stydahar Joins Bay Staff". November 14, 1952. p. 13. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14312289/joe_stydahar_joins_bay_staff/. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Stydahar New Cardinals Coach". January 30, 1953. p. 16. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14212877/stydahar_new_cardinal_coach/. 
  22. "1953 Chicago Cardinals Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/crd/1953.htm. Retrieved October 9, 2017. 
  23. "1954 Chicago Cardinals Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/crd/1954.htm. Retrieved October 9, 2017. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Grid Cards Name Richards Coach: Joe Stydahar Out; Settle 3 Season Pact". June 3, 1955. p. 3-1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14312372/grid_cards_name_richards_coach_joe/. 
  25. "Bears Sign Stydahar As Defense Aid". February 15, 1963. p. 4-1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14312107/bears_sign_stydahar_as_defense_aid/. 
  26. "Bears' Defensive Line Overhauled by Stydahar". August 28, 1963. p. 3-1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14312146/bears_defensive_line_overhauled_by/. 
  27. "1963 Chicago Bears Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/chi/1963.htm. Retrieved October 9, 2017. 
  28. "1964 Chicago Bears Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/chi/1964.htm. Retrieved October 9, 2017. 
  29. "Stydahar Resigns His Post As Line Coach for Bears". December 16, 1964. http://www.nytimes.com/1964/12/16/stydahar-resigns-his-post-as-line-coach-for-bears.html. 
  30. Joe Stydahar Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks - Pro-Football-Reference.com
  31. "Pro Football's Hall of Fame Is Announced". August 3, 1950. p. 13. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14210596/pro_football_hall_of_fame_is_announced/. 
  32. "Dr. Hugh MacMillan Makes 25th Anniversary All-America". December 19, 1960. p. 6. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14308850/dr_hugh_macmillan_makes_25th/. 
  33. "Fete Ex-Bear Stydahar in Highland Park". April 20, 1967. p. 3-3. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14308090/fete_exbear_stydahar_in_highland_park/. 
  34. "All-1930's NFL Team Selected". August 27, 1969. p. C5. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9748483/all1930s_nfl_team_selected/. 
  35. 35.0 35.1 "Former NFL Great Joe Stydahar Dies". March 25, 1977. p. 16. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14272278/former_nfl_great_joe_stydahar_dies/. 
  36. "Joe Stydahar Father of Boy". February 12, 1948. p. II-9. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14272103/joe_stydahar_father_of_boy/. 
  37. "Stydahar Proud Father of Son". June 27, 1952. p. 7. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14272336/stydahar_proud_father_of_son/. 
  38. "In the Wake of the News". March 4, 1955. p. III-1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14273391/in_the_wake_of_the_news_stydahar/. 
  39. "Ram-Bear Switch May Help Both ---Stydahar". May 1, 1961. p. IV-2. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14312062/rambear_switch_may_help_both/. 
  40. "Joe Stydahar". Find-a-Grave.com. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=14554111. Retrieved October 9, 2017. 

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