Frank Filchock

Frank Joseph Filchock (October 8, 1916 – June 20, 1994) was an American and Canadian football tailback/quarterback and coach. As a consequence of a famous scandal regarding the 1946 NFL Championship Game, he was suspended by the National Football League from 1947 to 1950 for associating with gamblers.

Frank Filchock
No. 30, 64
Position:Quarterback / Running back
Personal information
Born:October 8, 1916
Crucible, Pennsylvania
Died:June 20, 1994 (aged 77)
Career information
College:Indiana
NFL Draft:1938 / Round: 2 / Pick: 14
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Pass completions:342
Passing yards:4,921
Touchdowns thrown
NFL statistics only:
47
Player stats at NFL.com

Early career

Born in 1916 in the small Pennsylvania mining town of Crucible, Filchock was a star player at Redstone Township High School and later at Indiana University. After graduating from university, he became the second pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates (now the Pittsburgh Steelers) in the second round of the 1938 NFL draft. The Pirates' first first-round draft choice that year was Byron (Whizzer) White of Colorado, who later became a U.S. Supreme Court judge. Filchock appeared in six games for the Pirates in 1938, and then was sold to the Washington Redskins.

At Washington, he appeared in six more games in the 1938 season, as understudy to Sammy Baugh. He remained with the Redskins through the 1941 season, part of the time alternating quarters with Baugh. During this period of alternation, the two were known as Slingin' Sam and Flingin' Frank.

On October 15, 1939 Filchock threw the first 99-yard touchdown pass in NFL history, to Andy Farkas, in a game against his old team, the Pirates. This set a record for longest play from scrimmage, a record that can only be tied, not broken. In 1939 and 1944 he led the league in touchdown passes. In the latter year he also won the league passing championship, just edging out teammate Baugh.

In 1942 and 1943 Filchock was out of professional football and on active duty with the United States Navy. While in the service he played for Georgia Pre-Flight, where he was named to the U.P. All-Service team at tailback. In 1944 he returned to Washington, D.C., where the Redskins had just switched to the T-formation.

After the 1945 season coach Steve Owen of the New York Giants asked owner Tim Mara to get Filchock to serve as passer in Owen's A-Formation offense. Mara made the trade with the Redskins, but actually signing Filchock was more difficult. Not only did Mara end up exceeding his traditional salary ceiling, but he also agreed to the first multi-year contract in Giants' history. Filchock got a reported $35,000 for three seasons. Even such Giant greats as Benny Friedman, Mel Hein and coach Steve Owen had never received multi-year contracts (Owen, in fact, coached the Giants for 22 years without a contract).

In spite of a painful arm injury, Filchock had a good first year in New York, passing for 1,262 yards and 12 touchdowns. He ran for another 371 yards and was chosen an all-pro halfback and the most valuable player for the Giants. His passing threat was what the Giants needed to make Owen's offense work, and Filchock led the team from a 3-6-1 record in 1945 to 7-3-1 and first place in the Eastern Conference in 1946. This set up the 1946 NFL title game with the Chicago Bears, scheduled for Sunday, December 15.

The scandal

Hours before game time, a story broke on radio that gamblers had attempted to fix the game—and that Filchock and another Giant back, Merle Hapes, were involved. It later developed New York City mayor Bill O'Dwyer, NFL commissioner Bert Bell, police commissioner Arthur Wallander and Giants' owner Tim Mara had met in the mayor's office to assess the situation on the day before the game. O'Dwyer also wanted to meet with the players, and Filchock and Hapes were brought to the mayor's residence later that day. At this meeting, Hapes admitted being approached, while Filchock denied it.

At 2 a.m. Sunday, only twelve hours before game time, the district attorney's office announced that Filchock and Hapes had been offered $2,500 each plus the profits from a $1,000 bet that Chicago would win by more than ten points. The players also had been offered off-season jobs supposed to bring them another $15,000.

Bell announced that although the police had concluded no player had taken a bribe, the league would conduct its own investigation of the offers. The championship game would go ahead as scheduled. Filchock, who during the meeting with the mayor had denied being approached, would be allowed to play in the game. Hapes, who had admitted his failure to report the bribe attempt, would not be allowed to play.

Thus the Giants went into the game minus one of their backfield stars and with a cloud hanging over another. When Filchock was introduced, he was roundly booed. He reportedly played hard, suffering a broken nose, but the Giants lost to the Bears 24-14. This was the precise betting line of the gamblers; they neither won nor lost their bets.

Filchock played 50 minutes and was responsible for all of the Giants' scoring, throwing touchdown passes to Frank Liebel and Steve Filipowicz. He completed 9 of 26 passes for 128 yards and had 6 intercepted. The winning players each received $1,975.82, the losers $1,295.57. Both Filchock and Hapes received full shares.

The day after the game, the Associated Press reported

Alvin J. Paris, a self-styled 'big bettor' on athletic contests, was arraigned on a bribery charge, accused of having offered Merle Hapes and Frank Filchock, Giant backfield men, $2,500 each to agree not to play their best in the championship contest. Police exonerated both players but Hapes was kept out of the game at the order of Bert Bell, commissioner of the league. Filchock, the key man in the Giants' backfield, played virtually all the game.

The aftermath

Alvin Paris was convicted of bribery January 8, 1947. The same day Bell suspended both of the players, even though the judge in the Paris trial had found that "Frank Filchock was not an accomplice, and was in fact an unfortunate victim of circumstances."

After Paris's trial, three other gamblers were indicted on bribery and conspiracy charges. Paris had not taken the stand in his own defense, but he was the prosecution's star witness at the second trial. He testified that $500 was bet for each of the two players on the Giants to win their final regular-season game, against the Redskins. This was presumably without the players' knowledge. Paris paid them the proceeds after the game. According to him Hapes accepted the money without argument, but Filchock required some persuasion. Paris also claimed that Hapes was willing to throw the championship game and that Filchock considered the offer overnight before rejecting it.

Hapes and Filchock also testified. They strongly denied ever receiving any money from Paris or ever considering any bribery offers.

The three conspirators in the second trial were convicted and received sentences of five to ten years. Paris's sentencing had been deferred until after the second trial. His testimony for the prosecution was taken into account, and he received only a one-year sentence. He was paroled after nine months.

Within 24 hours of the second verdict, Commissioner Bell extended the suspensions of Filchock and Hapes indefinitely. He did this, he said, because he had found the players "guilty of actions detrimental to the welfare of the National Football League and of professional football." This suspension applied not only to the NFL, but to all minor leagues associated with it. It did not apply to the new All-America Football Conference, but they were not about to pick up a player banned by the senior league for gambling connections. In effect, Filchock was banned from playing professional football in the United States.

When Filchock was asked about his plans, he replied "I haven't made any future plans simply because I never thought of being out of football. I still want to play football. I guess I always will."

A second career in Canada

Although no team in the United States would hire Filchock, there was definite interest in Canada. Both the Hamilton Tigers and the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (or Big Four) made offers. Filchock accepted the Tigers' offer, and on August 13, 1947 he joined the team as a player-coach. Rumor put his salary at $7,000 for the season.

There was a problem, however. While Canadian football teams were still technically amateur, it was an open secret that all of the teams in Canada's two major leagues of the time—the Big Four and the Western Interprovincial Rugby Union (WIFU) paid their players. Lew Hayman, then in the process of building his new Montreal franchise, the Alouettes, but who had been involved in football in eastern Canada for many years, said in 1946:

In the days before the war, the players were paid off in the dark. Some of the Canadian players took money and others didn't, though nearly all of them accepted gifts. Imports from the United States were paid in cash — somewhere between $1,000 and $1,200 for a season. Today you have to pay them all, homebreds or imports, and you have to pay them about four times as much as you did before the war.

Everyone knew about this, but no one openly admitted it. For a high-profile, professional player like Frank Filchock to play in the Big Four, pretenses would have to be dropped. Not everyone was willing to do that. Immediately after Filchock's signing, the Canadian Rugby Union, an umbrella organization for all levels of football throughout the Dominion, rejected his application for a player's certificate without comment, and the IRFU voted three to one that he could not play for Hamilton. Filchock was now blacklisted by every football league in the United States and Canada. Nevertheless, the Tigers were adamant: Filchock would play.

Frank played two exhibition games and four league games, all forfeit in advance, before the Big Four voted unanimously to allow him to play. The Tigers finished the 1947 season at 2-9-1.

Filchock was back with the Tigers for 1948, but in the meantime the team had resigned from the IRFU. Filchock's appearance in Big Four games had increased every team's attendance, but due to the lack of a gate-sharing program, the Tigers were able to benefit only up to the 12,000-seat capacity of their own stadium. Since they were paying Filchock's salary — undoubtedly the highest in the league — the Tigers felt they should receive some of the benefits from increased attendance at other parks. The three other teams did not see it that way, and the Tigers withdrew from the league.

Hamilton Wildcats, who had been playing senior football in the Ontario Rugby Football Union since 1943, promptly applied to fill the vacancy. They were accepted and the Tigers, a team dating back to 1869 and a founding member of the Big Four in 1907, were forced to play in the ORFU. In 1950 the Tigers and Wildcats finally merged as the Big Four's Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In 1948 Filchock was the MVP of the ORFU.

Filchock left the Tigers and returned to the Big Four in 1949, with Lew Hayman's Montreal Alouettes, at a salary reported to be $20,000 for two years. His earning power was now close to what it had been with the New York Giants. The Alouettes went 8-4 in the regular Big Four season, and then beat the ORFU champion Hamilton Tigers 40-0 for the Eastern Canadian title. In the Grey Cup they met the Western champions, the Calgary Stampeders. The Stampeders had a 28-2-1 record over the last two seasons, including a 1948 Grey Cup victory over Ottawa. In the game, Filchock completed 11 of 19 pass attempts for 204 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also intercepted three Calgary passes. The Alouettes won the game 28-15.

Reinstatement

Hoping to end his NFL suspension, in July 1950 Filchock appeared at a hearing before Commissioner Bert Bell. He was accompanied by Leo Dandurand, Alouettes' president, and the two presented testimonials from businessmen, clergymen and sportsmen lauding his conduct. New York Mayor Bill O'Dwyer and Assistant District Attorney George Monaghan also urged Bell to lift Filchock's suspension.

Bell agreed to reinstate Filchock.[1] In his announcement he state that Filchock "has at all times conducted himself in a manner reflecting the highest standards of sportsmanship... [and] has made a real contribution to the promotion and development of clean sports in Canada."

Jack Mara of the Giants (Filchock's previous NFL team) announced that he was "glad to hear that Frank has been reinstated... [but] we do not plan to make him an offer because we are stressing youth." Filchock was 33 years old at the time.

Filchock returned to Montreal and played the entire 1950 season there. The Alouettes finished out of the playoffs and he then signed with the Baltimore Colts, whose NFL season had not yet ended. The Colts folded after that season, and Filchock never played another down of football in the NFL.

Final years in football

In 1951, Filchock played with the Edmonton Eskimos of the WIFU, and for the first time in Canada his statistics were officially compiled. Official record-keeping began in Western Canada only in 1951, and not until 1954 in the East. He was made player-coach of the Eskimos in 1952 and led them to the WIFU championship. He was named to the second team Western all-stars the same year. The Eskimos fired him after they lost the 1952 Grey Cup, reportedly because he demanded more money.

Pro football coaching career

In 1953 Filchock moved to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, where he was both quarterback and head coach. This was his last season as a player, but he continued to coach at Regina through 1957, compiling a regular-season record of 41-35-4 with the team but never making it to the Grey Cup.

In 1958, he became head coach of the Sarnia Golden Bears of the ORFU. The team had an outstanding crop of imports, including quarterback and kicker Gino Cappelletti. It suffered only one defeat in ten games, and that by only a single point. Two playoff victories gave Filchock his second league championship as a coach. However, the ORFU was no longer considered a major league and had lost its berth in the Eastern playoffs some years earlier.

In 1959 Filchock served as backfield coach for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. He was named the first head coach of the Denver Broncos of the new American Football League on January 1, 1960. In December, 1961, he was fired after two disappointing seasons. His final record with the Broncos was 7-20-1.

In 1964 Filchock was defensive coach with the Quebec Rifles of the United Football League. That was his final year in football. All told, he had played or coached professional football in twelve cities, six leagues (he just missed the AAFC by playing with Baltimore the year of the merger) and two countries. He had also starred in high school, collegiate and service football, and had played minor league baseball with three teams. His overall major-league record as head coach was 67-65-7.

See also

References

  1. ^ Hapes was reinstated in 1954. MacCambridge, 2005, p. 49.

Bibliography

  • Braunwart, Bob, Bob Carroll and Joe Horrigan, "The Peregrinations of Frankie Filchock", Professional Football Researchers Association Annual 1981. Reprinted in From Scrimmage to SnapBack, the Journal of the Canadian Football Historical Association, v. 2, no. 2, Summer 2004. Includes Filchock's official statistics as player and coach (US and Canada).
  • Carroll, Dink, "Dollars and Dropkicks", Saturday Night, October 11, 1949, pp. 10–11, 31-32.
  • Claassen, Harold, The History of Professional Football, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963.
  • Coenen, Craig R. (2005). From Sandlots to the Super Bowl: The National Football League, 1920–1967. Knoxville, Tennessee: The University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 1-57233-447-9
  • Coleman, Jim, Columns on the Filchock affair, Toronto Globe and Mail, August 18, 1947, p. 16; October 1, 1947, p. 18.
  • Davis, Jeff (2005). Papa Bear, The Life and Legacy of George Halas. New York: McGraw-Hill ISBN 0-07-146054-3
  • Farrar, Harry, "Pro Football's Mr. Gadabout", Denver Post, February 21, 1964.
  • "Frankie Filchock Chosen Most Valuable Player in League", Hamilton Spectator, November 3, 1948.
  • Gottehrer, Barry, The Giants of New York, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1963.
  • Lyons, Robert S. (2010). On Any Given Sunday, A Life of Bert Bell. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 978-1-59213-731-2
  • MacCambridge, Michael (2005). America's Game. New York: Anchor Books ISBN 978-0-307-48143-6
  • McIlroy, Kimball, "Fall, Football, and Filchock", Saturday Night, September 13, 1947, pp. 26–27.
  • Pervin, Lawrence A. (2009). Football's New York Giants. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4268-3
  • Peterson, Robert W. (1997). Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507607-9
  • Walker, Hal, "Here's Filchock", Toronto Globe and Mail, August 20, 1947, p. 15.

External links

1942 Georgia Pre-Flight Skycrackers football team

The 1942 Georgia Pre-Flight Skycrackers football team represented the United States Navy pre-flight aviation training school at the University of Georgia during the 1942 college football season. The team compiled a 7–1–1 record and outscored opponents by a total of 183 to 105. The team was ranked No. 3 among the service teams in a poll of 91 sports writers conducted by the Associated Press.Raymond "Bear" Wolf was the team's head coach. The roster of the 1942 Georgia Pre-Flight team was made up of stars from colleges and NFL teams around the country. Notable players (with their prior team in parenthesis) included: Frank Filchock (Washington Redskins), Bob Suffridge (Philadelphia Eagles), Ernie Blandin (Tulane), Jim Poole (New York Giants), Charlie Timmons (Georgia/Clemson), Allie White (Philadelphia Eagles), Darrell Tully (Detroit Lions), Herschel Ramsey (Philadelphia Eagles), Bob Foxx (Tennessee, 1939 SEC Co-Player of the Year), Noble Doss (Texas), Billy Patterson (Pittsburgh Steelers), Al Piasecky (Duke), Ed Hickerson (Alabama), and Bill Kirchem (Tulane).

Two Skycrackers were named to the 1942 All-Navy All-America football team: Jim Poole at left end and Bill Davis at right tackle. In addition,

Gordon English (left end) and Francis Crimmins (left guard) were named to the 1942 All-Navy Preflight Cadet All-America team.

1960 Denver Broncos season

The 1960 Denver Broncos season was the team's inaugural year in the American Football League. Led by head coach Frank Filchock, the Broncos recorded four wins, nine losses, and one tie, finishing last in the AFL's Western Division.

1961 Denver Broncos season

The 1961 Denver Broncos season was the team's second year in the American Football League. Led by head coach Frank Filchock, the Broncos recorded three wins and eleven losses, finishing third in the AFL's Western Division.

The 1961 Broncos set a modern pro football record with 68 giveaways, more than any other team in AFL or NFL history.

37th Grey Cup

The 37th Grey Cup was played on November 26, 1949, before 20,087 fans at Varsity Stadium at Toronto. Montreal Alouettes defeated Calgary Stampeders 28-15. Though teams from Montreal had won two Grey Cups, this was the first appearance and victory for the Montreal Alouettes franchise.

40th Grey Cup

The 40th Grey Cup game was the Canadian Football Championship held on 29 November 1952. The Toronto Argonauts defeated the Edmonton Eskimos 21-11 at Toronto's Varsity Stadium.

Alvin J. Paris

Alvin J. Paris (born 1918) was a New York bookmaker and gambler who, as a "front man" for a gambling syndicate based in Elizabeth, New Jersey, fixed college sporting events through bribing of star athletes, including Rocky Marciano.After being recorded on federal wiretaps on December 15, 1946 in an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Frank S. Hogan, a former assistant to crusading New York District Attorney Thomas Dewey, he was convicted of attempting to bribe professional football players Merle Hapes and Frank Filchock of the New York Giants with $2,500 each to throw the NFL championship game against the Chicago Bears. Paris was eventually convicted of bribery on January 8, 1947 and, although Hapes and Fitchcock were cleared of bribery charges, both men were initially suspended by then league commissioner Bert Bell (with Filchock being allowed to play the final game against the Chicago Bears).

During his trial, Paris chose not to take the stand in his own defense and later testified against his partners David Krakauer, Jerome Zarowitz and Harvey Stemmer, for which he would later receive death threats. Paris's sentencing had been deferred until after the second trial and he received a one-year sentence on April 7 of which he served nine months before his parole.

Frank Liebel

Frank Edward Liebel (November 19, 1919 – December 26, 1996) was a professional American football end/defensive back in the National Football League. He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

Harry Lunn

Harry Lunn is a former award-winning halfback who played in the Canadian Football League from 1955 to 1960.

Lunn was discovered by Saskatchewan Roughriders coach Frank Filchock in 1954 playing for the Hamilton Panthers of the ORFU Intermediate league. He paid immediate dividends for his new team, winning the 1955 Dr. Beattie Martin Trophy for best Canadian rookie in the west on the strength of his 175 rushing yards and his league leading punt and kick off returns. His best season was 1957, with 326 rushing yards, and he intercepted 12 passes during his career. He also represented the West in the 1958 Shrine Game.

Jack Harper (Canadian football)

John "Jack" Harper was a Grey Cup champion and All-Star Canadian Football League player. He was a halfback.

Harper started out with the Hamilton Tigers of the Ontario Rugby Football Union and had an All-Star season in 1948, leading his union in scoring with 60 points and tying Virgil Wagner for the national title. The Montreal Alouettes signed him, and fellow All-Star quarterback Frank Filchock, away from Hamilton in 1949 and these two stars were at the heart of the Als first ever Grey Cup victory that season. After 3 more seasons in Montreal, Harper played with the Saskatchewan Roughriders for two seasons, and finished his career with 6 games for the Toronto Argonauts in 1955.

Kent Graham

Kent Douglas Graham (born November 1, 1968) is a former American football quarterback. Graham played quarterback at the University of Notre Dame before transferring to Ohio State University. After his college football career, Graham had a lengthy career in the National Football League (NFL) during which he played for the New York Giants in two separate stints, as well as starting for the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He finished his career in 2002 with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

List of Denver Broncos head coaches

The Denver Broncos are a professional American football franchise based in Denver, Colorado. They are members of the West Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The team began playing in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL), and joined the NFL as part of the AFL-NFL merger. The team has played their home games at Sports Authority Field at Mile High since 2001. The Broncos are currently owned by Pat Bowlen.There have been 15 head coaches for the Broncos franchise. The franchise's first head coach was Frank Filchock, who coached until 1961. Mike Shanahan is the franchise's all-time leader for the most regular season games coached (208), the most regular season game wins (130), and the most playoff game wins (8). Shanahan and Dan Reeves, are tied for the most playoffs games coached (13). Shanahan was the first Broncos head coach to win a Super Bowl following the 1997 season, and repeated the feat following the 1998 season. The Broncos next Super Bowl victory was for Super Bowl 50 following the 2015 season under the leadership of coach Gary Kubiak who had previously played for Denver and served as an assistant coach. Jack Faulkner, John Ralston, Red Miller, and Reeves have been named the United Press International (UPI) NFL Coach of the Year, at least once with the Broncos. Filchock, Faulkner, Mac Speedie, Jerry Smith, Ralston, and Miller spent their entire coaching careers with the Broncos. Speedie, Ray Malavasi, Miller, Shanahan, and Kubiak have been assistant coaches with the Broncos before they became head coaches with the Broncos.

List of Edmonton Eskimos head coaches

The Edmonton Eskimos are a professional Canadian football team based in Edmonton, Alberta, and are members of the West Division in the Canadian Football League (CFL).

The Eskimos were founded in 1949, although other teams named the Edmonton Eskimos existed 1895 to 1923 and 1929 to 1939.

The Eskimos are the most successful CFL franchise of the modern era (1949–present), having won the league's Grey Cup fourteen times, including an unmatched five consecutive wins between 1978 and 1982, and most recently in 2015.

List of New York Giants starting quarterbacks

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

List of Saskatchewan Roughriders head coaches

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are a professional Canadian football team based in Regina, Saskatchewan, and are members of the West Division in the Canadian Football League (CFL). The club was founded in 1910 as the Regina Rugby Club and began as a member of the Saskatchewan Rugby Football Union. They were a founding member of the CFL when it was formed in 1958. The current Roughriders head coach is Craig Dickenson, the general manager is Jeremy O'Day, and the current president and chief executive officer for the community-owned team is Craig Reynolds.

List of Washington Redskins starting quarterbacks

These quarterbacks have started at least one game for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League, and its predecessors the Boston Braves (1932) and Boston Redskins (1933–1936). The Washington Redskins franchise was founded in Boston, Massachusetts as the Boston Braves, named after the local baseball franchise. The name was changed the following year to the Redskins. For the 1937 NFL season, the franchise moved to Washington, D.C., where it remains based.Of the 50 Redskins starting quarterbacks, two have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Sammy Baugh and Sonny Jurgensen.

Merle Hapes

Merle Alison Hapes (May 19, 1919 – July 18, 1994) was a professional American football fullback in the National Football League. He played two seasons for the New York Giants (1942, 1946).

He and quarterback Frank Filchock were involved in a gambling scandal in 1946 in which they allegedly took bribes to fix the 1946 NFL Championship Game.

Since the betting scandal meant he was indefinitely suspended from playing professional football in the United States, he went to Canada to play in the Canadian Football League. He played one season for the Hamilton Tigers in 1949. The Tigers became the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1950, but Hapes was injured for the entire season. For the next two seasons he was an assistant coach with the Tabbies, but returned to play as a back up for two final seasons, winning the Grey Cup with Hamilton in 1953.Hapes returned to the States and worked in the Civil Service and the Department of Defence until 1982. In 1993 Hapes was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame of Mississippi.

Hapes died on July 18, 1994, survived by his wife, Evelyn Pevey Hapes, two daughters, a son and seven grandchildren.

Frank Filchock—championships, honors, and awards

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