Frank Tripucka

Francis Joseph Tripucka[1] (December 8, 1927 – September 12, 2013) was an American collegiate and professional football quarterback, at Notre Dame, in the National Football League, in the Canadian Football League, and in the early American Football League.

Originally from Bloomfield, New Jersey, Tripucka (truh-PEW-kuh) graduated from Bloomfield High School in 1945.[2]

Frank Tripucka
refer to caption
Tripucka on a 1950 Bowman football card
No. 28, 18, 8
Personal information
Born:December 8, 1927
Bloomfield, New Jersey, U.S.
Died:September 12, 2013 (aged 85)
Woodland Park, New Jersey, U.S.
Career information
High school:Bloomfield
(Bloomfield, New Jersey)
College:Notre Dame
NFL Draft:1949 / Round: 1 / Pick: 9
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career professional statistics
Passing yards:10,282
Completion percentage:50.4
Passer rating:52.2
Punting yards:2,825
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

College career

The 6-2, 172-pound Tripucka was a three-time letter-winner at Notre Dame. His first two seasons, he played backup quarterback to Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lujack on unbeaten Notre Dame squads in 1946 and 1947. As a freshman backup in 1945, he completed his only pass for 19 yards, and carried twice for eight yards. In 1946 as a sophomore he hit one of his five throws for 19 yards in relief on the national championship squad. Despite playing behind an All-American He took approximately 1/4 of Frank Leahy's 1947 squad's pass attempts, connecting on 25 of 44 throws for 422 yards, three TDs, and one interception and a remarkable passer rating of 155.3, and helping the Irish to a second consecutive national championship. With Lujack's graduation, Tripucka became the undisputed starter his senior year. He completed 53 of 91 for 660 yards and a school-record 11 touchdowns, en route to a 9-0-1 record and the Irish's 3rd consecutive season without a loss. A tie against USC in the final game bumped them down to #2 behind undefeated Michigan. He played in the college All-Star Game that year.[3]

Professional career

Tripucka went on to become a first-round selection (ninth overall pick) by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1949 NFL Draft, but was immediately traded to the Detroit Lions. He had four starts his rookie season, compiling a mediocre 9 touchdowns to 14 interceptions; he was also used as a punter 28 times. In 1950, he played for the Chicago Cardinals, where he in had four passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in relief of Jim Hardy, including a 65 and an 81-yard touchdown pass in game 5 against Washington.[4] In 1951, he had just 29 attempts in 1 start for the Cardinals, and only 12 attempts in six games in 1952 before being traded to the Dallas Texans mid-season. There, he started all six games, but had just 3 touchdowns to 17 interceptions, and a 1-5 record.

Tripucka then took an eight-year hiatus in the Canadian Football League. He joined the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their new coach Frank Filchock as the starting quarterback in 1953. He played there through 1958, when he was traded to the Ottawa Rough Riders, but he was back in Saskatchewan before the end of the 1959 season as a coach. Non-Canadians playing Canadian professional football were known as imports, and each team was limited to 12. These spots were filled, so Coach Tripucka was ineligible to play. However, in the fourteenth game of the season, all three Roughrider quarterbacks were sidelined by injuries. For the last two games, management decided to play Tripucka anyway, and forfeit in advance. The Roughriders lost the first of them on the scoreboard as well, 20-19 versus the Edmonton Eskimos. But in the last game of the season against Bud Grant's Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Tripucka had 17 completions in 29 passes and Ferdy Burket ran for five touchdowns. Officially, the final score was Saskatchewan 37, Winnipeg 30 for a Winnipeg "victory".[5]

Tripucka returned to the AFL as the starting quarterback for the new Denver Broncos franchise. The Broncos had hired Filchock as their coach, and he initially brought Tripucka along as an assistant. He started all 14 games in Denver's inaugural 1960 season, and though he led the league in interceptions in 1960 with 34 (still a Broncos franchise record), he also led the league with 248 of 478 passes for 3,038 yards (the first 3000+ yard season by either an NFL or AFL quarterback), to go with 24 touchdowns, including the first TD pass in AFL history.[6] He started 11 games in 1961, throwing for 1,690 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions. In 1962, he again led the league with 240 completions, 440 attempts, and 2,917 yards. This included a week 2 victory over Buffalo, in which Tripucka threw for a remarkable 447 yards, a franchise record that stood for 38 years.[7][8] On the season, he totaled 17 touchdowns and 25 interceptions, and was selected for the AFL's All Star game for the only time in his career. In his last season, Tripucka had just 7 completions for 31 yards in two games.

Tripucka retired in 1963 after 15 professional seasons. The Broncos subsequently retired his #18 jersey. In 1986, Tripucka was one of three players to be inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame. On March 9, 2012, Tripucka stated that he would allow #18 to be worn again by Peyton Manning if the Broncos were to sign him. On March 20, 2012, at a press conference announcing his signing by the Broncos, John Elway thanked Tripucka "for allowing the franchise to unretire the number for Manning."[9] On March 7, 2016, the #18 jersey returned to retirement when Manning announced that he was retiring after 18 professional seasons (4 seasons with the Broncos).[10]

Personal life

He is the father of former Notre Dame and Detroit Pistons basketball star Kelly Tripucka who also played for the Utah Jazz and the Charlotte Hornets.[6] He is also the grandfather of football players Shane Tripucka[11] and Travis Tripucka[12] as well as professional lacrosse player Jake Tripucka.[13]

Tripucka died of congestive heart failure on September 12, 2013, at his home in Woodland Park, New Jersey, aged 85.[2][14][6]


In 1997, Tripucka was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.[1]

See also


  1. ^ Peyton Manning was permitted use of the number during his tenure with the Broncos by Tripucka.


  1. ^ a b Profile Archived 2012-05-03 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed December 28, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Frankel, Jeff. "Funeral set for Broncos quarterback Tripucka, formerly of Bloomfield" Archived 2013-10-03 at the Wayback Machine, Bloomfield Life, September 13, 2013; accessed September 15, 2013. "Funeral plans are set for Frank Tripucka, the Denver Broncos' first quarterback. He was a Bloomfield native.... Tripucka, 85, a 1945 Bloomfield High School graduate, died Thursday at his Woodland Park home. His son, Kelly Tripucka, a former Notre Dame basketball standout, said his father died of congestive heart failure."
  3. ^ "Former Notre Dame Quarterback Frank Tripucka Dies At Age 85". University of Notre Dame.
  4. ^ "Chicago Cardinals at Washington Redskins - October 22nd, 1950".
  5. ^ Braunwart, Bob; Carroll, Bob. "The Curious Case of the 13th Import" (PDF). Pro Football Research. The Coffin Corner, 1979.
  6. ^ a b c Curley, Carolyne Volpe (14 September 2013). "The Family of Frank Tripucka has Announced his Passing". TAPinto West Essex.
  7. ^ "Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills".
  8. ^ Broken by Gus Frerotte on 19 Nov 2000. See List of Broncos players with 400 yards passing
  9. ^ "Manning Introduced as Broncos QB". Fox Sports. 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  10. ^ "Peyton Manning retires from football after 18 NFL seasons". The Denver Post. 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
  11. ^ Croome, Shane. "Aggie punter Shane Tripucka carrying on family tradition". The Eagle.
  12. ^ Constantino, Rocco (11 Sep 2012). "New Raiders Long Snapper Travis Tripucka Brings a Familiar Name Back to the NFL". Bleacher Report.
  13. ^ Schwartz, Peter (20 Apr 2016). "Son Of Former NBA Star Tripucka Joins New York Lizards".
  14. ^ Frank Tripucka dies at age 85,; accessed December 28, 2015.

External links

Al Carmichael

Albert Reinhold Carmichael (born November 10, 1928) is a former American football player.

Carmichael holds the distinction of scoring the first touchdown in American Football League history, a 59-yard pass reception from Frank Tripucka for the Broncos against the Boston Patriots on September 9, 1960.

Bloomfield High School (New Jersey)

Bloomfield High School (BHS) is a four-year comprehensive public high school serving students in ninth through twelfth grades in Bloomfield, in Essex County, New Jersey, United States, operating as the lone secondary school of the Bloomfield Public Schools. 2011 featured celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the current school building, which replaced the original high school that had been constructed in 1871.As of the 2015–16 school year, the school had an enrollment of 2,016 students and 162.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.4:1. There were 814 students (40.4% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 205 (10.2% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.

Bob Dee

Robert Henry Dee (May 18, 1933 – April 18, 1979) was an American football defensive end in the National Football League and the American Football League. He was a three-sport letterman at the College of the Holy Cross who was one of the first players signed by the Boston Patriots of the American Football League in 1960.

After two years with the Washington Redskins in 1957–58, Dee returned to Holy Cross to tutor the team's linemen.

He became an ironman of the American Football League who never missed a game during his career, starting 112 consecutive games. Despite equipment improvements over the years, Dee was a superstitious player who chose to wear the same helmet throughout his career (105 of 112 games). Dee etched his name in the history books by scoring the first points in American Football League history, scoring a touchdown when he dove onto a fumble by Bills QB Tommy O'Connell (father of former Boston Bruins GM Mike O'Connell) the end zone in the second quarter of the league's first-ever exhibition game, a contest between the Patriots and the Bills on July 30, 1960. He was voted to four American Football League All-Star teams (1961, 1963–65) and is a member of the Patriots All-1960s (AFL) Team.

Dee recorded 33 QB sacks (not including his strip sack of Tommy O'Connell in the AFL's first Exhibition Game).

Dee sacked Frank Tripucka, Al Dorow, Hunter Enis, Jacky Lee, MC Reynolds, Randy Duncan, Cotton Davidson, George Blanda, Jack Kemp, Johnny Green, John Hadl, Tobin Rote, Len Dawson, Eddie Wilson, Dick Wood, Joe Namath, Tom Flores, Rick Norton and Bob Griese and recovered fumbles by Al Carmichael, Art Baker, Wayne Crow, Jacky Lee, Paul Lowe, Bill Tobin, Wray Carlton & Max Chobian.

He had two interceptions in the Patriots 26-8 Eastern Divisional Playoff Game win over the Buffalo Bills. In that game, he wore one sneaker and one football shoe with spikes, which made him maneuver better in the snow in the game played at War Memorial Stadium on December 28, 1963.

On July 22, 1968, Dee announced his retirement from professional football, citing a business opportunity that was "too good to resist."

Dee died of a heart attack in 1979 while on a business trip.

He was awarded a game ball for his outstanding performance in the Patriots 34-17 win over the Houston Oilers on November 29, 1964.

He was inducted in the Patriots Hall of Fame on August 18, 1993.

In recognition of his accomplishments on the field, the Patriots retired his number (89).

Gary Keithley

Gary Keithley (born January 11, 1951) is a former professional American football quarterback in the National Football League. Playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, he had a 0.0 passer rating in each of his first two career starts, the only quarterback in NFL history to do this in back-to-back games. He was the backup quarterback of the BC Lions in 1977 and 1978.

George Herring

George W. Herring (June 18, 1934 - November 8, 1994), born in Gadsden, Alabama, was a professional American football quarterback and punter in the American Football League. Herring played with the Denver Broncos in 1960 and 1961.

Herring played college football at Jones County Junior College and then transferred to Mississippi Southern in Hattiesburg. Selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixteenth round (184th overall) of the 1956 NFL Draft, Herring signed instead in Canada and threw eight touchdowns to 20 interceptions in two seasons with the B.C. Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders. In 1960, he joined the Broncos at the start of the AFL. In Denver, Herring backed up his roommate Frank Tripucka and threw five touchdowns to 23 interceptions while also serving as the team’s punter. In a 1961 loss at Houston on November 26, he threw a franchise record six interceptions.

Herring had a problem with alcohol and was found homeless on the streets of Denver in 1982. After staying sober for several years, he had a relapse in 1994 and committed suicide within two days of his 25-year-old son Lance also killing himself. In a bizarre side note, Lance’s stepfather had also committed suicide two months before.

George Izo

George William Izo (born September 20, 1937) is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for the Washington Redskins, as well as the St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Lions, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played college football at the University of Notre Dame.

Hal Ledyard

Harold "Hal" Ledyard (July 7, 1931 – April 21, 1973) was a professional gridiron football player in the National Football League and Canadian Football League.

After backing up future Pro Football Hall of Famer Y. A. Tittle in 1953, Ledyard joined the United States Army, where he played quarterback for the Fort Jackson base football team in 1955. Ledyard joined the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1956 and spent three seasons as the team's starting quarterback before being replaced by Frank Tripucka before the 1959 season. Ledyard signed with the Toronto Argonauts in 1959, but was waived before the season began.After not being signed during the 1960 football season, Ledyard returned to the CFL in 1961 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, splitting playing time with Dick Thornton and future Canadian Football Hall of Famer Ken Ploen. During his time in Winnipeg, Ledyard was known as "The best relief pitcher in football" due to his success relieving Ploen. He was a part of the Blue Bomber teams that won the 49th and 50th Grey Cups.

Hal Ledyard is the father of retired professional hockey player Grant Ledyard.

Ledyard died April 21, 1973 in a drowning accident at Big Sur.

J. W. Brodnax

John Willis "Red" Brodnax Jr. (March 6, 1936 – January 6, 2006) was an American football player. Brodnax played college football for the LSU Tigers and played professionally for both the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL) and Denver Broncos of the American Football League (AFL).Brodnax was a member of coach Paul Dietzel's 1958 national championship team. He was the starting fullback on the "White Team" of Dietzel's three-platoon system, in the backfield with Warren Rabb and Billy Cannon. Brodnax was awarded the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best blocker in the Southeastern Conference. He was also awarded the Nils V. "Swede" Nelson Award for "the strength of his unselfish sacrifice of personal achievement to aid his team to an unbeaten record and a Sugar Bowl birth against Clemson."Brodnax's lone score as a professional was a short touchdown reception from quarterback Frank Tripucka with the Broncos in 1960 against the Buffalo Bills.

Jim Hardy

James Francis Hardy (born April 24, 1923) is a former American football quarterback. He was born in Los Angeles.

Jim LeClair (quarterback)

James Michael LeClair (born March 23, 1944) is a former American football quarterback in the American Football League. He played for the Denver Broncos. He played college football for C.W. Post.

Kelly Tripucka

Peter Kelly Tripucka (born February 16, 1959), is a retired American professional basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1981 to 1991. He was a two time NBA All Star and averaged over twenty points a game in five of the ten season that he played in. Tripucka played for the Detroit Pistons, Utah Jazz and was a member of the Charlotte Hornets during their inaugural season in the NBA. The son of NFL Pro-Bowl (and CFL) quarterback Frank Tripucka, Kelly was a color analyst for the New York Knicks for four years, ending with the 2011–12 season. His nephew Shane Tripucka is a punter for the Los Angeles Chargers

List of Arizona Cardinals starting quarterbacks

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

List of Denver Broncos starting quarterbacks

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

List of Detroit Lions starting quarterbacks

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

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.

Paul Smith (defensive end)

Paul Edward Smith (August 13, 1945 – March 14, 2000) was a collegiate and professional American football defensive end. Smith was selected in the 1968 Common Draft by the American Football League's Denver Broncos and played in the National Football League for the Broncos and Washington Redskins.

Smith wore number 70 with the Broncos and was inducted into the Denver Broncos' Ring of Fame in 1986 along with quarterbacks Frank Tripucka and Charley Johnson.

Saskatchewan Roughriders all-time records and statistics

The following is a list of Saskatchewan Roughriders all-time records and statistics current to the 2018 CFL season. Each category lists the top five players, where known, except for when the fifth place player is tied in which case all players with the same number are listed.

Stoney Case

Stoney Jarrod Case (born July 7, 1972 in Odessa, Texas) is a former quarterback for three teams in the National Football League and three teams in the Arena Football League.

Tom Dimitroff Sr.

Thomas George Dimitroff (June 6, 1935 – January 20, 1996) was a gridiron football player and coach. He is the father of current Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

Dimitroff was a two-time All-Mid-American Conference quarterback and defensive back for Miami (OH). He passed for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns, and ran for 542 yards. As a kicker, he converted on 22 extra-point attempts and had a punting average of 36.2 yards. He played on two MAC championship football teams under Ara Parseghian and John Pont. He was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 25th round of the 1957 Draft, but instead signed with the Ottawa Rough Riders Interprovincial Rugby Football Union. On August 23, 1958, Dimitroff started for Ottawa in the first regular-season game in Canadian Football League history. In May 1959, Dimitroff was traded along with Larry Hayes, Jim Marshall, Frank Fraser, and Karl Hilzinger to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for quarterback Frank Tripucka. Dimitroff retired shortly after the trade, never playing a game for Saskatchewan.

In 1960, Dimitroff came out of retirement to play for the newly formed American Football League. He signed with the New York Titans, but did not appear in any games for them. He later signed with the Boston Patriots and appeared in three games, throwing two incomplete passes.After serving as an assistant coach at Barberton High School and Wadswoth High School, Dimitroff returned to Miami (OH), where he was an assistant from 1969–1972. After one season at Kansas State, Dimitroff joined former Rough Rider teammate George Brancato in Ottawa. From 1974–1977, he served as the Ottawa Rough Riders quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, helping coach Ottawa to victory in the 1976 Grey Cup, the final Grey Cup victory in Rough Riders history.

In 1978, he became the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He was fired after five games and replaced by John Payne. Following his departure from Hamilton, Dimitroff coached the Guelph Gryphons football team, where his son Randy was quarterback from 1982 to 1985.Dimitroff left coaching in 1984 to serve as Director of Player Personnel for the Ottawa Rough Riders. In 1986, he was named the team's interim head coach after the firing of Joe Moss. The Rough Riders were 0–4–1 under Dimitroff and in 1987 he joined the Cleveland Browns as a college scout.Dimitroff died on January 20, 1996 in Strongsville, Ohio.

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