Davey O'Brien

Robert David "Davey" O'Brien (June 22, 1917 – November 18, 1977) was an American football quarterback. He played college football at Texas Christian University (TCU) and professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Philadelphia Eagles for two seasons.

In 1938, O'Brien won the Heisman Trophy[1] and the Maxwell Award,[2] and was the fourth overall pick of the 1939 NFL draft. O'Brien was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955. Since 1981, the Davey O'Brien Award is given annually to the best quarterback in college football.

Davey O'Brien
refer to caption
O'Brien in c. 1938.
Personal information
Born:June 22, 1917
Dallas, Texas
Died:November 18, 1977 (aged 60)
Fort Worth, Texas
Height:5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Weight:151 lb (68 kg)
Career information
NFL Draft:1939 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Passing yards:2,614
Passer rating:41.8
Player stats at NFL.com

Early life

Born in Dallas, Texas, O'Brien played high school football at its Woodrow Wilson High School. He was an All-State selection and led the high school to the Texas state playoffs in 1932.[3]

College career

O'Brien played college football at nearby TCU in Fort Worth in 1935 as a backup for Sammy Baugh. He became the starter in 1937, and was named to the first-team All-Southwest Conference.[3]

In 1938, O'Brien threw for 1,457 yards — a Southwest Conference passing record that stood for ten years. He had only four interceptions in 194 attempts, and his NCAA record for most rushing and passing plays in a single season still stands today.[3] That season, he led the Horned Frogs to an undefeated season, as they outscored their opponents by a 269–60 margin and held nine of their ten regular-season opponents to seven points or less, including three shutouts.[3] TCU finished the season with a 15–7 victory over Carnegie Tech in the Sugar Bowl and a national championship.[3] O’Brien was named to 13 All-America teams and became the first player to win the Heisman and Maxwell awards in the same year. He was the first Heisman winner from TCU and the Southwest Conference.[3] Off the field, he was also an honorary member Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, Texas Gamma chapter. He majored in geology and expressed little interest in pro football in January 1939.[2][4]


Year Comp Att Comp % Passing TD
1937 96 237 40.5 947 5
1938 93 166 56.0 1457 19

Professional career

O'Brien was the fourth overall pick of the 1939 NFL draft, held in December 1938. He was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles, and owner Bert Bell gave him a $12,000 bonus and a two-year contract, and he signed with the team in March.[5]

In his rookie season in the NFL in 1939, O'Brien led the league in passing with 1,324 yards in 11 games,[6] breaking his old TCU teammate Sammy Baugh's single season passing yardage record, but the Eagles finished at 1–9–1. After an appendectomy in late June,[7] he again led the league in several passing categories In 1940, including attempts and completions.[6][8] Philadelphia lost their first nine games and finished at 1–10, last in the ten-team league. The Eagles gave him a $2,000 raise, but he retired after the 1940 season.[3][9]

In his professional career, O'Brien completed 223 of 478 passes for 2,614 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was also a defensive back and punter, intercepted four passes for 92 yards and punted nine times for an average of 40.7 yards per kick.[6]

Life after football

After two seasons with the Eagles, O'Brien retired from football to become an agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),[9] where he worked for ten years. After completing his training, he was assigned to the bureau’s field office in Springfield, Missouri. He was a firearms instructor at Quantico, Virginia, and spent the last five years of his FBI career in Dallas.[3] He resigned from the bureau in 1950 and went to work for H. L. Hunt in land development. O'Brien later entered the oil business, working for Dresser Atlas Industries of Dallas.[3] and was an adviser to Lamar Hunt during the founding of the American Football League.[10]

O'Brien was also president of the TCU Alumni Association, a YMCA board member, a chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, a supporter of Golden Gloves youth boxing programs, and a deacon of University Christian Church. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955 and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1956. From 1960 to 1964, he was the color commentator on Dallas Cowboys telecasts.

In 1971, O'Brien was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery to remove a kidney and part of his right lung, but eventually died from the disease on November 18, 1977.[3]

O'Brien's 1938, and Tim Brown's 1987, Heisman Trophy awards gave Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas the distinction of being the first to produce two Heisman winners.

In 1989, O'Brien (posthumously) and Brown were inducted together into Woodrow Wilson High School's newly created Hall of Fame in celebration of the school's 60th anniversary.

See also


  1. ^ "This proves Davey O'Brien is nation's best gridder". Milwaukee Journal. AP photo. December 7, 1938. p. 11, part 2.
  2. ^ a b "Davey O'Brien to spurn pros". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. January 11, 1939. p. 6.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Davey O'Brien bio". Daveyobrien.com. Archived from the original on September 18, 2008. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  4. ^ "Davey O'Brien wants no more football playing". The Day. New London, Connecticut. Associated Press. January 11, 1939. p. 11.
  5. ^ Turner, Leo (March 22, 1939). "Davey O'Brien is signed by Eagles". Berkeley Daily Gazette. California. United Press. p. 11.
  6. ^ a b c "Pro Football History: Davey O'Brien". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  7. ^ "Davey O'Brien has appendix removed". Milwaukee Journal. June 29, 1940. p. 10, part 2.
  8. ^ "Six pro grid records broken, one tied in 1940". Lewiston Daily Sun. Maine. Associated Press. December 3, 1940. p. 9.
  9. ^ a b "Eagles win first game on "Davey O'Brien Day"". Gettysburg Times. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. November 29, 1940. p. 3.
  10. ^ "Oilman backs new grid league". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. July 31, 1959. p. 3, part 2.

External links

1938 College Football All-America Team

The 1938 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations and writers that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1938. The nine selectors recognized by the NCAA as "official" for the 1938 season are (1) Collier's Weekly, as selected by Grantland Rice, (2) the Associated Press, (3) the United Press, (4) the All-America Board, (5) the International News Service (INS), (6) Liberty magazine, (7) the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), (8) Newsweek, and (9) the Sporting News.

Four players were unanimous All-Americans on all of the major All-American teams: TCU quarterback (and 1938 Heisman Trophy winner) Davey O'Brien, Pittsburgh fullback Marshall Goldberg, Michigan guard Ralph Heikkinen and Notre Dame tackle Ed Beinor.

1938 TCU Horned Frogs football team

The 1938 TCU Horned Frogs football team represented Texas Christian University (TCU) in the 1938 college football season. The team was coached by Dutch Meyer in his fifth year as head coach. The Horned Frogs finished with an undefeated 11–0 season. At season's end, Davey O'Brien won the Heisman Trophy and the Horned Frogs were crowned as national champions by the AP Poll. The offense scored 269 points while the defense allowed 60 points. The Horned Frogs played their home games in Amon G. Carter Stadium, which is located on campus in Fort Worth, Texas.

1939 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1939 Philadelphia Eagles season was the franchise's 7th season in the National Football League. The team failed to improve on their previous output of 5–6, winning only one game. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The October 22 game against Brooklyn was the first NFL game to be televised.

1940 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1940 Philadelphia Eagles season was their eighth in the National Football League. The team failed to improve on their previous output of 1–9–1, losing ten games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season.

The Eagles 298 rushing yards in 1940 are the fewest in the history of the NFL. The team gained only 0.94 yards per carry.

1977 Texas Longhorns football team

The 1977 Texas Longhorns football team represented the University of Texas at Austin in the 1977 NCAA Division I football season. The Longhorns finished the regular season with an 11–0 record. Earl Campbell won the Heisman Trophy in 1977 and led the nation in rushing with 1,744 yards. In 1977, he became the first recipient of the Davey O'Brien Memorial Trophy, which was awarded to the most outstanding player in the now-defunct Southwest Conference. He was selected as the Southwest Conference running back of the year in each of his college seasons and finished with 4,444 career rushing yards.

1989 Houston Cougars football team

The 1989 Houston Cougars football team, also known as the Houston Cougars, Houston, or UH, represented the University of Houston in the 1989 NCAA Division I-A football season. It was the 44th year of season play for Houston. The team was coached by third-year head coach Jack Pardee. Serving as offensive coordinator was John Jenkins, who would later serve in the capacity of head coach the next season. The team played its games off-campus at the Astrodome, which had recently received upgrades to seat 62,439 spectators. The Cougars finished the season ranked as #14 by the AP Poll. Houston quarterback Andre Ware won the Heisman Trophy and Davey O'Brien Award following the conclusion of the season. Under probation by the NCAA from rules violated in prior seasons, Houston was disallowed from participating in a bowl game, television appearances, and the Coaches' Poll.

2005 Fiesta Bowl

The 2005 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, played on January 1, 2005, was the 34th edition of the Fiesta Bowl. The game was played between Utah and Pittsburgh, in front of 73,519 fans. It is notable for being the first BCS game to feature a team from a BCS non-AQ conference, and the only BCS bowl to feature a BCS non-AQ team prior to the 2006 season, making the trip all the more impressive. (In 2006, the eligibility rules became less strict: the BCS increased from four games to five, and entry required a top 12 finish instead of a top 6.) Utah was led by co-head coaches Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham, and quarterback Alex Smith directed his spread offense. The Utes were nothing short of unstoppable during the regular season, having won all their games by at least 14 points, and held an average lead of 40–14 after three quarters. They played key out-of-conference games against Texas A&M and North Carolina, and defeated five bowl teams by an average of 23.2 points. Utah was a very successful team that broke many school records, including most wins in a single season with 12, 16 straight wins (which would reach 18 in 2005), and 544 points scored in one season.

Going into the game, Utah had been ranked in the Top 10 for 8 consecutive weeks. Pittsburgh was 8–3 and the Big East Conference champion. Utah raced to a 28–0 lead and held on for a convincing 35–7 win. Alex Smith had a magnificent showing, completing 29 of 37 passes for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns, as he went on to impress NFL scouts and became the number 1 overall draft pick. He was also the MWC Offensive Player of the Year, TSN Player of the Year, a Walter Camp finalist, a Davey O'Brien finalist, finished fourth in the Heisman voting, and the Fiesta Bowl MVP. Paris Warren was Smith's go-to man during the game, as he caught a Fiesta Bowl record 15 passes for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Charlie Ward

Charlie Ward Jr. (born October 12, 1970) is an American retired professional basketball player, college football Heisman Trophy winner and Davey O'Brien Award winner and a Major League Baseball draftee. Despite his NCAA football success, Ward was one of the very few players who won a Heisman Trophy but was not drafted in the NFL draft. He won the College Football National Championship with the Florida State Seminoles football. Ward played several years with the New York Knicks and started in the NBA Finals. He was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. An avid tennis player, Ward also displayed his skills at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Tournament in 1994.

Daryll Clark

Daryll Lawrence Clark (born February 5, 1986) is an American football quarterback for the Cape Fear Heroes of the American Arena League (AAL). He was signed by the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League as a free agent in 2010. He played collegiately for the Penn State Nittany Lions. From 2009 until 2017, Clark was the Nittany Lions' all-time passing touchdowns leader, as well as numerous other passing records. Clark was recruited to Penn State out of Ursuline High School in Youngstown by way of The Kiski School in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. Clark has also been a member of the Omaha Nighthawks, Chicago Rush and Myrtle Beach Freedom.

Davey O'Brien Award

The Davey O'Brien Award, officially the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, named after Davey O'Brien, is presented annually to the collegiate American football player adjudged by the Davey O'Brien Foundation to be the best of all National Collegiate Athletic Association quarterbacks. The Davey O'Brien Hall of Fame is housed at The Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth, Texas. The annual awards dinner and trophy presentation is held there as well, usually in February.

In 1977, directly after the death of O'Brien, the award was established as the Davey O'Brien Memorial Trophy, and was given to the most outstanding player in the Southwest. Texas running back Earl Campbell won the trophy in 1977, Oklahoma running back Billy Sims won it in 1978, and Baylor linebacker Mike Singletary won it twice in 1979 and 1980. In 1981, the award was renamed the Davey O'Brien Award.

Since the renaming of the award in 1981, four players have won the award twice: Ty Detmer of BYU, Danny Wuerffel of Florida, Jason White of Oklahoma, and Deshaun Watson of Clemson.

The Executive Director of the Davey O'Brien Award is Bill Brady.

Don McPherson

Donald G. McPherson (born April 2, 1965) is a former National Football League and Canadian Football League quarterback. He spent seven seasons in the NFL and CFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Oilers, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and Ottawa Rough Riders.

He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1988 after a college career at Syracuse University during which he won the Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award and finished second in the 1987 Heisman Trophy voting. He also played for the Houston Oilers, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Rough Riders. His accomplishments during his tenure at Syracuse propelled him to be inducted into the NCAA College Football Hall of Fame announced on May 1, 2008.

After retiring from football in 1994, McPherson joined the staff of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, before becoming the first executive director of the Sports Leadership Institute at Adelphi University. As a feminist and social activist he has founded several outreach and mentoring programs, and regularly speaks at college campuses as a critic of gender roles, stating that the standard constructions of masculinity and femininity both limit men's emotions and overall well-being as well as contribute to "gendered violence" such as domestic violence, stalking, and rape. In this capacity he has testified before hearings of the United States House of Representatives.

McPherson is currently a college football commentator for Big East football on regional sports cable network SportsNet New York.He is the younger brother of former NFL player and pastor Miles McPherson.

Eric Crouch

Eric Eugene Crouch (born November 16, 1978) is a former American football quarterback. He also is a TV sports analyst and recreational equipment vendor.

Crouch played college football for the University of Nebraska. In 2001 Crouch won the Heisman Trophy, awarded annually to the most outstanding collegiate football player in the United States. He also won the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, given annually to the best collegiate quarterback in the US. During that year running Nebraska's option offense, he completed 105 of 189 passes for 1,510 yards and seven touchdowns, while also rushing for 1,115 yards and 18 touchdowns. Crouch was the USA Today Nebraska Player of the Year, and a Parade All-American athlete at Millard North High School, where he was a two-time All-State selection at quarterback. Crouch appeared on the cover of the video game NCAA College Football 2K3.

I. B. Hale

Insall Bailey "I. B." Hale (September 9, 1916 – May 14, 1971) was an American football tackle at Texas Christian University (TCU) who was voted an All-American. He was drafted in the first round of the 1939 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, but never played football professionally.

Hale was married to the former Virginia Kingsbery, and the couple had at least three sons (twins Robert Allen Hale and William Hale, and Timothy Hale). Hale became a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent in Fort Worth, Texas and was a close associate of J. Edgar Hoover. Later he became chief of security for the Convair aircraft factory and General Dynamics, and was a chairman of ASIS International. Hale died of a heart attack in 1971.Hale was best friends with Heisman winner Davey O'Brien, who played football with him at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas and also at TCU. They both worked for the FBI.

Hale was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.

Joe Hamilton (American football)

Joseph Fitzgerald Hamilton (born March 13, 1977) is a former American college and professional football player who was a quarterback in three different professional leagues. He played college football for the Georgia Institute of Technology, earned All-American recognition and won several national awards. After his playing career ended, Hamilton became an administrator and coach. He has served as the running backs coach for Georgia State University and currently works in the recruiting department for his alma mater, Georgia Tech.

Kevin Feterik

Kevin Feterik (born September 14, 1977) is a former American and Canadian football quarterback. He played for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. He played college football at BYU. As a senior in college he was a finalist for the Davey O'Brien Award. A Roman Catholic, Feterik chose to attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints-owned BYU due to its esteemed quarterback program.

Feterik remains among the most controversial choices for a CFL starting quarterback in the 21st century. The team was owned at the time by Feterik's father Michael, who insisted that his son get the position. This was met with predictable ire from both fans and the team's popular and successful head coach/general manager Wally Buono. Buono left for the BC Lions on account of these differences after the 2002 season. Although the elder Feterik owned the team until 2005, Kevin Feterik was released at his own request in 2003 on account of the ongoing controversy.

List of Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterbacks

These quarterbacks have started at least one game for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League. They are listed in order of the date of each player's first start at quarterback for the Eagles.

Phil Steele

Phil Steele (born c. 1960) is an American sportswriter and analyst who focuses exclusively on college and professional football. He is considered a "highly respected prognosticator" within the sports media. His company, Phil Steele Publications, produces the annual preseason magazine Phil Steele's College Football Preview, which he personally writes in almost its entirety. The first edition was published in 1995. In a comparison of the major preseason college football magazines, ESPN writer Pat Forde said:All the mags have their merits . . . But Phil Steele owns the genre . . . The 46-year-old uses a cookie-cutter layout for every team, and his writing will never be nominated for a Pulitzer. But he does author every two-page team preview himself, and he crams stats, facts and figures into every nook and cranny. The magazine was similarly praised by the News & Observer and Rivals.com. Chris Stassen, owner of football.stassen.com, has tracked the preseason magazines' accuracy since 1993 and rates Phil Steele's as the most accurate in its predictions.. Phil is currently a full-time employee of ESPN writing articles for ESPN+ and appearing on SportsCenter. He continues to produce the "Bible of College Football" which is the Phil Steele College Football preview that is now in its 24th year.

Steele has been a member of the All-America, John Mackey Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Lombardi Award, and the Ted Hendricks Award voting committees.

TCU Horned Frogs football

The TCU Horned Frogs football team is the intercollegiate football team of Texas Christian University (TCU). The Horned Frogs compete in Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States.

Since 2012, the Horned Frogs have been a member of the Big 12 Conference, and were previously members of the Mountain West Conference (MWC), Western Athletic Conference (WAC), Conference USA (C-USA), Southwest Conference (SWC), and Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA).

TCU began playing football in 1896 and claims national championships in 1935 and 1938. TCU has one Heisman Trophy winner, Davey O'Brien, and has had eight former players inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The Horned Frogs play their home games in Amon G. Carter Stadium, which is located on the TCU campus in Fort Worth.

TCU ranks as the 28th best college football program of all time and the 4th best private college football school of all time, behind Notre Dame, USC, and Miami-FL. The Horned Frogs are also one of only four FBS teams to have played in all six College Football Playoff Bowls, winning all but the Fiesta and Orange.

In 2017, TCU and Coach Patterson reached their 10th 11 win season since Gary Patterson has been coaching for the program. That is the 4th most 11 win seasons since 2001 in all of college football.

Todd Blackledge

Todd Alan Blackledge (born February 25, 1961) is a former American football quarterback in both the NCAA and National Football League. In college, he led the Penn State Nittany Lions to a national championship; and, as a pro, he played for the Kansas City Chiefs (1983–1987) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (1988–1989). Blackledge is currently a high school basketball coach, and a college football television broadcaster.

Davey O'Brien—championships, awards, and honors

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