Emlen Lewis Tunnell (March 29, 1924 – July 23, 1975), sometimes known by the nickname "The Gremlin", was an American football player and coach. He was the first African American to play for the New York Giants and also the first to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Tunnell played college football at the University of Toledo in 1942 and University of Iowa in 1946 and 1947. He also served in the United States Coast Guard from 1943 to 1946. He received the Silver Lifesaving Medal for heroism in rescuing a shipmate from flames during a torpedo attack in 1944 and rescuing another shipmate who fell into the sea in 1946.
He next played 14 seasons in the National Football League (NFL) as a defensive halfback and safety for the New York Giants (1948–1958) and Green Bay Packers (1959–1961). He was selected as a first-team All-Pro six times and played in nine Pro Bowls. He was a member of NFL championship teams in 1956 and 1961. When he retired as a player, he held NFL career records for interceptions (79), interception return yards (1,282), punt returns (258), and punt return yards (2,209).
After retiring as a player, Tunnell served as a special assistant coach and defensive backs coach for the New York Giants from 1963 to 1974. In addition to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he was named to the NFL's 1950s All-Decade Team and the all-time All-Pro team, and was ranked number 70 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
|Position:||Defensive halfback, safety|
|Born:||March 29, 1924|
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
|Died:||July 23, 1975 (aged 51)|
Pleasantville, New York
|Height:||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Weight:||211 lb (96 kg)|
|College:||Toledo (1942), Iowa (1946–1947)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Tunnell was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, though sources conflict as to his year of birth. His tombstone as well as the Social Security Death Index and Tunnell's Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File reflect a birth date of March 29, 1924. Official NFL records and multiple sources in the early 1960s reported his date of birth as March 29, 1922. Tunnell listed his birth date as March 29, 1923, on his 1942 draft card and on his 1950 application for World War II benefits. Other sources record his birth year as 1925. In 1961, Tunnell joked about his age: "I'm not really 41, as everyone says. I'm closer to 42."
Tunnell grew up in the Garrett Hill neighborhood of Radnor Township, approximately eight miles northwest of Philadelphia. His parents were divorced when Tunnell was young, and he and three siblings were raised by his mother, Catherine, who worked as a housekeeper in the homes of wealthy families in the Philadelphia Main Line area. His sister, Vivian, recalled Garrett Hill as a multi-ethnic neighborhood where "everybody mingled", and her brother "learned from his environment – be yourself, but adapt to others who might be different in the group."
Tunnell was included in the inaugural class of inductees to the Radnor High School Hall of Fame in 2003.
Tunnell enrolled at the University of Toledo in the fall of 1942 and played college football as a halfback for Toledo Rockets football team. He was described as the "main spring" of Toledo's offense in the first part of the 1942 season. However, on October 26, 1942, he sustained a broken neck in a game when he was blocked while attempting to make a tackle against Marshall. He recuperated sufficiently to help lead the Toledo Rockets men's basketball team to the finals of the 1943 National Invitation Tournament.
Tunnell's neck injury in 1942 resulted in his being rejected in efforts to enlist in both the United States Army and Navy during World War II. In May 1943, Tunnell enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. From August 1943 to July 1944, he served on the USS Etamin, a cargo ship that was manned by Coast Guard personnel and stationed in the South West Pacific Area. In April 1944, while unloading explosives and gasoline at Aitape in Papua New Guinea, the Etamin was struck by a torpedo dropped from a Japanese airplane; Tunnell saved a fellow crew member who was set afire in the blast, beat out the flames with his hands, sustained burns to his own hands, and carried the shipmate to safety. He was next stationed at San Francisco and Alameda from August 1944 to October 1945.
In the fall of 1944, Tunnell played at the halfback position for the San Francisco Coast Guard Pilots football team. On November 11, 1944, he led the Pilots to a 13–0 victory over Amos Alonzo Stagg's Pacific Tigers football team, throwing 22 yards for a touchdowns and returning an interception 75 yards for another touchdown. At the end of the 1944 season, he was named to the All-Pacific Coast service football team. He also played basketball for the San Francisco Coast Guard, scoring 13 points in a December 1944 game against the California Golden Bears.
In March 1946, while stationed at Naval Station Argentia in Newfoundland, Tunnell rescued a shipmate who fell from the USS Tampa. Tunnell jumped into the 32-degree water and saved his drowning shipmate. In 2011, Tunnell was posthumously awarded the Silver Lifesaving Medal for his heroism in rescuing his shipmates on the Etamin and Tampa.
Tunnell was discharged from the Coast Guard in April 1946. He enrolled at the University of Iowa in the fall of 1946. Playing for the 1946 Iowa football team, Tunnell led the team with 541 yards of total offense and 28 pass completions and ranked second on the team with 333 rushing yards.
On October 11, 1947, he set an Iowa single-game record with 155 receiving yards and three touchdowns on six receptions. Three weeks later, Tunnell quit the team after an argument with backfield coach Frank Carideo. He apologized and was reinstated two days later, but he played "sparingly" in the final two games of the 1947 season.
Tunnell left Iowa in January 1948 in order to make some money to enable him to return and play football in the fall. He was told by school officials that, in order to be eligible to play football again in the fall, he would need to return for summer school and make up for a class he failed in the fall. Tunnell later explained: "I got a telegram on Sunday saying I had to be back in school on Monday and didn't have any money or nothing."
On July 24, 1948, Tunnell signed with the New York Giants. He was the first African American signed by, and the first to play for, the Giants. He later wrote that he hitchhiked from his family home in Garrett Hill to New York City to meet Jack Mara, son of Giants founder Tim Mara, and ask for a try out. In his Hall of Fame induction speech, Tunnell thanked a West Indian banana-truck driver who dropped him off near this Polo Grounds "appointment".
As a rookie in 1948, Tunnell appeared in 10 games and intercepted seven passes, including one returned 43 yards for a touchdown. Between 1949 and 1952, he was known as one of the best pass defenders and punt returners in the NFL. He was a key element in the Giants' famed "umbrella defense" that shut down the passing game of opponents in the early 1950s, and he was referred to as the Giants' "offense on defense". His accomplishments during those prime years include the following:
Tunnell remained with the Giants for a total of 11 years from 1948 to 1958. During that time, he was selected as a first-team All-Pro six times, played in eight Pro Bowls, and set franchise records that still stand with 74 intercepted passes for 1,240 interception return yards and four touchdowns (tied with Dick Lynch and Jason Sehorn). He also recovered 15 fumbles and still holds franchise records with 257 punt returns for 2,206 yards and five touchdowns, which was good for an average of 8.6 yards per return. His total of 3,421 return yards is also a franchise record.
After the 1958 season, the Giants' offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi left New York to become head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers. In June 1959, the Packers, in one of their first major personnel moves under Lombardi, purchased Tunnell from the Giants. In three years with the Packers, Tunnell saw reduced playing time, but helped to bolster the defense with his experience, worked to develop the team's young players, and became known as "an unofficial pastor" for the team. He appeared in 13 games for the 1961 Packers team that won the NFL championship. He saw playing time in red zone defensive situations. Defensive backs coach Norb Hecker said of Tunnell: "He was still a vicious tackler. When the opposition got inside our 15, we put him in and he responded with the fury of a linebacker. He could fall back on experience and by watching an offensive player's move was seldom beat."
In March 1962, Tunnell announced his retirement as a player. At that time, he held several NFL records, including the following:
During his 14-year NFL career, Tunnell also totaled 16 fumble recoveries, 8.6 yards per punt return, and 1,215 yards on 46 kickoff returns (26.4 yards per return).
Tunnell has received numerous honors for his contributions to the sport, including the following:
In the fall of 1962, Tunnell worked as a scout for the Giants and Packers, observing college players on Saturdays and watching the Giants' upcoming opponents on Sundays. In May 1963, he was hired by the Giants as a special assistant coach under head coach Allie Sherman. In addition to his scouting duties, he was responsible for "special assignments" during the Giants' training camp.
In February 1965, Tunnell was promoted to assistant coach responsible for the Giants' defensive backs. While some sources credit Tunnell as the first African American to work as an assistant coach in the NFL, and even as the first black coach in the NFL, Fritz Pollard was a head coach in the NFL in the 1920s, and Lowell Perry was an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1957.
Tunnell suffered a minor heart attack in October 1974 and thereafter assumed a new position as the Giants' assistant personnel director. In July 1975, Tunnell died from a heart attack during a Giants practice session at Pace University in Pleasantville, New York. He was buried at Gulph United Church of Christ Cemetery in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Coast Guard has announced the names and corresponding hull numbers for its next 20 Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters (FRCs), each vessel being named for a deceased leader, trailblazer or hero of the Coast Guard and its predecessor services of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, the U.S. Lifesaving Service and the U.S. Lighthouse Service, according to a Dec. 12 Coast Guard release.
Saturday, with a U.S. Coast Guard honor guard and all the pomp and circumstances that befits a local hero, Radnor Township officials and the Sports Legends of Delaware County Museum dedicated a 7-foot-tall bronze statue of Tunnell that now stands outside the township building. The statue, created by sculptor Jennifer Frudakis Petry, depicts Tunnell running with a football.
The 1946 Iowa Hawkeyes football team was an American football team that represented the University of Iowa in the 1946 Big Nine Conference football season. The team compiled a 5–4 record (3–3 against conference opponents) and finished in fourth place in the Big Nine Conference. The team outscored its opponents by a combined total of 129 to 92. The team allowed an average of 200.7 yards per game, the best total defense in Iowa history.Eddie Anderson returned as a head coach for the Hawkeyes for his fifth season as Iowa's head coach; he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.The team's statistical leaders included Bob Smith with 503 rushing yards, Emlen Tunnell with 228 passing yards, Dick Hoerner with 72 receiving yards, and Bob Sullivan with 25 points scored. Tackle Bill Kay was selected as the team's most valuable player. Guard Earl Banks and fullback Dick Hoerner were selected as first-team players on the 1946 All-Big Nine Conference football team.The team played its home games at Iowa Stadium. It drew 197,811 spectators at five home games, an average of 39,562 per game.1947 Iowa Hawkeyes football team
The 1947 Iowa Hawkeyes football team was an American football team that represented the University of Iowa in the 1947 Big Nine Conference football season. The team compiled a 3–5–1 record (2–3–1 against conference opponents) and finished in a tie for sixth place in the Big Nine Conference. After opening its season with a 59–0 shutout victory over North Dakota State, the team was outscored 179 to 86 in its remaining eight games.Head coach Eddie Anderson was in his sixth season as Iowa's head coach; he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971. On the evening before the final game of the 1947 season, Anderson submitted his resignation as head coach (effective in July 1948), citing "considerable loose talk" about the state of the program. The team responded with a 13–7 victory over Minnesota. Fans begged Anderson to reconsider, and the Iowa athletic board denied his resignation, promising him a larger coaching staff and other football improvements. Anderson decided to stay, saying, "I'm glad we got things straightened out."The team's statistical leaders included Bob Smith with 395 rushing yards and 30 points scored, Al DiMarco with 644 passing yards, and Emlen Tunnell with 262 receiving yards. Tunell later played 14 years in the National Football League and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Other players of note included Jack Dittmer, who later played six years in Major League Baseball, and end Harold Schoener, who was selected as the most valuable player on the 1947 Iowa team.The team played its home games at Iowa Stadium. It drew 187,844 spectators at four home games, an average of 46,961 per game.1951 All-Pro Team
The 1951 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1951 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP) (chosen in a national poll of AP football writers), the United Press (UP) (selected by UP sports writers), and the New York Daily News.The All-Pro selections were dominated by players from the Cleveland Browns (nine first-team honorees including Otto Graham and Lou Groza), New York Giants (seven honorees including Emlen Tunnell), Los Angeles Rams (six first-team honorees including Elroy Hirsch), and Detroit Lions (four first-team honorees including Doak Walker).
This was the first year that separate defensive and offensive teams were selected as up until this point most players had played both ways for much of the game (although this had decreased in the later 1940s), so a quarterback/tailback/ halfback on offense usually just became a defensive back similar to today's safety when playing defense while the fullback, usually a larger player, or a larger halfback (and before the T-formation, the quarterback, who was usually actually a blocking back on offence), would play a position similar to linebacker. Ends would also usually convert to defensive backs, similar to corner backs of today.1952 All-Pro Team
The 1952 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1952 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), and the New York Daily News.1957 All-Pro Team
The Associated Press (AP), Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), New York Daily News (NYDN), The Sporting News (SN), and United Press (UP) were among selectors of All-Pro teams comprising players adjudged to be the best at each position in the National Football League (NFL) during the 1957 NFL season. The AP, NEA, NYDN, and UPI selected a first and second team.1959 Green Bay Packers season
The 1959 Green Bay Packers season was their 41st season overall and their 39th season in the National Football League and 41st overall. The club posted a 7–5 record in the 1959 season under first-year coach Vince Lombardi to earn a third-place finish in the Western Conference.
It was the Packers' first winning season in a dozen years, the last was a 6–5–1 mark in 1947. Green Bay had just one victory during the previous season in 1958 with the worst record in the 12-team league, and were 3–9 in 1957, tied for worst.Carl "Spider" Lockhart
Carl Ford "Spider" Lockhart (April 6, 1943 – July 9, 1986) was an American football defensive back in the National Football League for the New York Giants. He was a two-time Pro Bowler. Lockhart played college football at North Texas State University and was drafted in the thirteenth round of the 1965 NFL Draft.
On arriving at Giants training camp, Emlen Tunnell, their defensive backfield coach, gave Carl the nickname Spider. The popular and talented Spider spent his entire 11-year career with the Giants. He was a Pro Bowl free safety in 1966, despite the Giants being the worst defensive team in points allowed/game in NFL history: 35.8 (14 games, see 1966 New York Giants season), the 1981 Baltimore Colts allowing 533 points in 16 games: 33.3; see List of National Football League records (team). In particular, their run defense was shredded by Washington Redskins runners with 209 yards, net passing yards only 132, in a 72-41 game, the most points allowed by both teams combined in a single game, Lockhart did get an interception against Sonny Jurgensen in the game. He was a Pro Bowl free safety a second time in 1968, leading the league in defensive touchdowns. Spider intercepted 41 passes in his career and recovered 16 fumbles during his 145 games played. Lockhart also returned 328 punts and was famous for rarely calling for a fair catch.
Spider retired from football in 1975 at the age of 32 and was a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey. On July 9, 1986, at the age of 43, Spider died of lymphoma. In his honor, a "Spider patch" was worn by the Giants throughout their Super Bowl XXI-winning 1986 season. His uniform number, 43 was retired as a tribute.
In 1993, his widow won a $15.7 million malpractice verdict, after claiming that doctors at St. Vincent's Hospital had misdiagnosed swollen lymph nodes when he went to the hospital in 1979 and told a doctor there that he feared that he had cancer. Then living in Mahwah, New Jersey, Lockhart was not correctly diagnosed until he returned to see a doctor two years after his initial complaint.Jim Lee Howell
James Lee Howell (September 27, 1914 – January 4, 1995) was an American football player and coach for the National Football League's New York Giants. Howell was born in Arkansas and played college football and basketball at the University of Arkansas. He was drafted by the Giants in the 1937 NFL Draft and played wide receiver and defensive back from 1937 to 1947. While playing for the Giants, He was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives representing Lonoke County in 1940 and served one term during the January to March 1941 session of the legislature. After his playing career ended, he was head coach for Wagner College football.
Howell returned to the Giants in 1954 as head coach, succeeding fan, media and player favorite Steve Owen. Howell quickly hired Vince Lombardi as his offensive coordinator and shortly after converted Tom Landry from player to defensive coordinator. From 1954 to 1960, the Giants played in three NFL Championship Games, defeating George Halas’s Chicago Bears in 1956 by the score of 47–7.
During Howell's seven seasons as head coach, he earned a career 53–27–4 record, with a .663 winning percentage. He drafted and coached a roster of stars including six future Pro Football Hall of Famers, Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli, Rosey Brown, Emlen Tunnell, Frank Gifford and Don Maynard. Although his conservative, defense-oriented style was unpopular with the fans and media, the Giants' success on the field was more satisfying. Several other players from this era went on to become head coaches and broadcasters.
Howell played and coached in an era when football went from a relatively simple game to one of great complexity with schemes, formations and playbooks designed to deceive as much as over power. With future Hall of Famers Lombardi and Landry as coordinators, Howell's job was frequently to play the diplomat within his own team.
Howell stayed with the team as Director of Player Personnel until his retirement in 1981. He died on January 4, 1995 in Lonoke, Arkansas.
The Professional Football Researchers Association named Howell to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2007John Johnson (trainer)
John "Mr. J" Johnson (March 31, 1917 – February 28, 2016) was an American athletic trainer, formerly for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL).
He began working for the Giants in 1948, and retired in 2008, after the Giants won Super Bowl XLII. He worked on the sidelines for 874 regular season games and 34 post season games. In addition, he worked as an athletic trainer for Manhattan College. He died in New Jersey at the age of 98 in 2016.Ken Riley
Kenneth Jerome Riley (born August 6, 1947) is a former professional American football cornerback who played his entire career for the Cincinnati Bengals, in the American Football League in 1969 and in the NFL from 1970 through 1983. Riley recorded 65 interceptions in his career, which was the fourth most in Pro Football history at the time of his retirement behind three members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; Dick Lane, Emlen Tunnell and Paul Krause. But despite his accomplishments, Riley was never an exceptionally popular or well known player. In his 15 seasons, Riley was never once selected to play in the AFL All-Star Game or the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, and to this date has not been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.List of Green Bay Packers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are currently members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL), and are the third-oldest franchise in the NFL. Founded in 1919 by coach, player, and future Hall of Fame inductee Curly Lambeau and sports and telegraph editor George Whitney Calhoun, the Packers organization has become one of the most successful professional football teams, having won a total of 13 professional American football championships—nine NFL Championships and four Super Bowls—the most in the NFL. The franchise has recorded 18 NFL divisional titles, eight NFL conference championships, and the second most regular season and overall victories of any NFL franchise, behind the Chicago Bears. In 1963, the Pro Football Hall of Fame was created to honor the history of professional American football and the individuals who have greatly influenced it. Since the charter induction class of 1963, 31 individuals who have played or coached for the Packers have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.Of the 30 inductees, 25 made their primary contribution to football with the Packers, while five only contributed a minor portion of their career to the Packers and two were assistant coaches. Of the original 17 individuals inducted in 1963, four spent the major part of their career with the Green Bay Packers. This includes the founder Curly Lambeau, the NFL's all-time offensive tackle Cal Hubbard, the 1941 and 1942 Most Valuable Player Don Hutson, and 1931 All-NFL player Johnny (Blood) McNally. The first two decades of the Hall of Fame's existence saw 17 Packers enshrined, including one inductee who was not a player for the Packers, Vince Lombardi. Coaching the Packers from 1959 to 1967, Lombardi led the team to five NFL Championships, plus winning the first two Super Bowls against the American Football League, and an overall winning percentage of .754. The most recent Packer to be inducted was Jerry Kramer in 2018.List of Green Bay Packers players
The following is a list of notable past or present players of the Green Bay Packers professional American football team.List of National Football League annual punt return yards leaders
This is a list of National Football League punt returners who have led the regular season in punt return yards each year. The record for punt return yards in a season is currently held by Desmond Howard of the Green Bay Packers who had 875 yards in 1996.List of National Football League career interceptions leaders
This is the list of National Football League (NFL) players, who have recorded at least 50 interceptions.National Football League 1950s All-Decade Team
This is a list of all NFL players who had outstanding performances throughout the 1950s and have been compiled together into this fantasy group. The team was selected by voters of the Pro Football Hall of Fame retroactively in 1969 to mark the league's 50th anniversary.
N1 Team that belonged to the All-America Football Conference for at least part of the player's tenurePaul Krause
Paul James Krause (born February 19, 1942) is a former American football safety who played in the National Football League (NFL). Gifted with a great frame, speed and range, Krause established himself as a defensive force against opposing wide receivers. He led the league with 12 interceptions as a rookie before going on to set the NFL career interceptions record with 81 (which he picked off from 45 different quarterbacks) and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998. Krause was selected eight times to the Pro Bowl during his 16 seasons in the NFL.Radnor High School
Radnor High School is a public high school in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Of all high schools in Pennsylvania, Radnor is ranked 3rd by U.S. News & World Report, and 1st by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.Rosemont, Pennsylvania
Rosemont is an unincorporated community in Pennsylvania on the Philadelphia Main Line between Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and Villanova, Pennsylvania, lying partly in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania, and partly in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania.
Part of the geographic area is served by the Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, ZIP code. Rosemont is served by its own stops on both the Paoli/Thorndale Line of SEPTA Regional Rail and the Norristown High Speed Line.
The community of Garrett Hill is in Radnor Township and in the Rosemont section.Tunnell
Tunnell is a surname, and may refer to:
Byron M. Tunnell - Railroad Commission of Texas member and politician
Ebe W. Tunnell - American merchant and politician
Emlen Tunnell - African-American football player
George Tunnell - American vocalist
James M. Tunnell - American teacher, lawyer and politician
James M. Tunnell, Jr. - American politician
Jeff Tunnell - computer game producer, programmer and designer
Lee Tunnell - American pitcher
Michael O. Tunnell (born 1950) - American writer, children's literature critic, and educator
|Wide receivers /|
Italics denotes players who have been voted in but not yet inducted.