George McAfee

George Anderson McAfee (March 13, 1918 – March 4, 2009) was a professional American football player. He played halfback and defensive back for the Chicago Bears from 1940 to 1941 and 1945 to 1950. As an undergraduate at Duke University, McAfee starred in baseball and track and field as well as college football. McAfee was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As of 2018, he still holds the NFL record for punt return average in a career. [1]

George McAfee
refer to caption
McAfee with the Chicago Bears
No. 5
Personal information
Born:March 13, 1918
Corbin, Kentucky
Died:March 4, 2009 (aged 90)
Durham, North Carolina
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:178 lb (81 kg)
Career information
High school:Ironton (OH)
NFL Draft:1940 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:1,685
Rushing touchdowns:21
Receiving yards:1,359
Receiving touchdowns:11
Return touchdowns:4
Interceptions:25 Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1943–1945
Battles/warsWorld War II
Player stats at PFR

Early life and college

George McAfee was born in Corbin, Kentucky. He was the 10th of 12 children, and he often joked that the first children awake in the morning were the only ones who could wear shoes for the day. Soon after his birth, his family moved to Ironton, Ohio, where he attended Ironton High School.[2]

McAfee earned a scholarship to play college football at Duke University in 1937. During his three years at Duke, the team compiled a record of 24–4–1. He led the Blue Devils to Southern Conference (SoCon) championships in 1938 and 1939. The 1938 Duke Blue Devils football team was unscored upon and unbeaten until the Rose Bowl, when the USC Trojans scored a touchdown with less than a minute remaining to win, 7-3. That Duke team was nicknamed the Iron Dukes.

In his senior season in 1939, McAfee led the team in rushing, receiving, scoring, kickoff returns, punt returns, interceptions, and punting. He earned All-America honors from the Associated Press, United Press, Central Press, and Newspaper Enterprise Association, among others.[3]

McAfee also batted .353 as a center fielder for the Duke Blue Devils baseball team and captured a Southern Conference 100-meter championship as a senior.[3]

Professional career

McAfee was the second overall pick in the 1940 NFL draft. Nicknamed "One-Play McAfee", he was known for explosive speed; he ran a 100-yard dash in 9.7 seconds. In his first professional game, McAfee returned a punt for a 75 yard touchdown with 30 seconds to play to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers. Later in his rookie season, he ran back a kickoff for 93 yards and threw a touchdown pass to help the Bears win over their rival, the Green Bay Packers. In the final game of the season, the 1940 NFL championship game, McAfee returned an interception for a 34-yard touchdown during the 73–0 victory over the Washington Redskins.

His second year in the League, 1941, was a banner year for McAfee: he led the league with a 7.3 rushing yards per carry while scoring a league-high 12 touchdowns in an 11-game season. While his rushing yardage totals seem modest by today's standards, he had to share the backfield with other outstanding running backs, such as Hugh Gallarneau, Norm Standlee, and Bill Osmanski, as well as Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman. Known for his versatility, in 1941 his 12-touchdown total consisted of six by rushing, three receiving, one by punt return, one by kickoff return, and one by interception return, all while helping the Chicago Bears to their second straight NFL league championship over the New York Giants. That season, his 31.6 yards per punt return also set a franchise record that still stands.

Following his All-pro 1941 season, McAfee entered the Navy in World War II, returning for three games each in 1945 and 1946. He played four more seasons in the NFL, becoming more of a return specialist, especially after a disastrous 11-fumble season in 1948. In 1948 and 1950 he led the NFL in punt returns (30 for a league-leading 417 yards in 1948, 33 in 1950). In his final professional game, a division-round loss to the Los Angeles Rams, McAfee had six punt returns for 79 yards,[4] setting the Bears' playoff franchise record for most returns in a game, and most yards and yards per return in a game, single post-season, and post-season career (a total of seven franchise records).

Military career

McAfee volunteered to join the United States Navy after the U.S. entered World War II. He served between 1942 and 1945.

Return to the NFL

McAfee returned to Chicago in 1945 after missing almost 4 complete seasons during what would likely have been the prime of his pro career. In his first game back, late in 1945, McAfee carried the ball five times for 105 yards and three touchdowns [5].

McAfee played for Chicago until 1950. While McAfee was not again voted to the All Pro team, he continued to excel on both offense and defense for the Bears.

During his time playing pro football, McAfee scored 234 points, gained 5,313 combined net yards, intercepted 25 passes in eight seasons, and was the NFL punt return champion. As of 2018, he remains the all time NFL record holder for average punt return in a career at 12.78 yards. [6]

McAfee’s coach at Duke, Wallace Wade, called him “a one-man offense, and practically unstoppable.” Red Grange, a star of earlier Bears teams, called McAfee "the most dangerous man with the football in the game."[2] Green Bay Coach Earl "Curly" Lambeau called McAfee "the most talented back the Packers ever faced." [7] John F. Kieran, the sports columnist for The New York Times, wrote in 1940: “the debate around Chicago has been as to whether McAfee is just as good as Jim Thorpe ever was, or better.” George Halas, the Bears’ longtime owner and coach, once said, “the highest compliment you can pay any ball carrier is just compare him with McAfee.”

McAfee himself described his running strategy differently. At 6’, 178 pounds, he was small even for his era. During his initial training camp with the Bears, he was impressed by the size of the so-called Monsters of the Midway. "I never saw so many big men in my life," McAfee said at the time. "I remember clearly, on one of the first scrimmage plays, that a rookie halfback was knocked cold trying to bring down Bill Osmanski. That play served as a valuable lesson for me. Whenever I ran with the ball, I had that picture in my mind of [him] there on the ground, cold as a stone. I would run as fast as I could if there was any daylight."[8]


During his college football career, McAfee was named first-team All-American, helped the Duke Blue Devils to two Southern Conference championships, and was a member of the Iron Dukes, which narrowly lost the 1939 Rose Bowl to Southern Cal.

While starring as running back, defensive back, kicker, punter, and kick returner for the mighty Chicago Bears of the 1940s, McAfee was named All Pro, set the all-time career punt return mark, and contributed to the Bears' NFL championships in 1940, 1941, and 1946.

McAfee's jersey #5 was retired by Chicago in 1955. He entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 1961, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1967, and the Duke Sports Hall of Fame in 1975, where he was a charter member. McAfee was also named to the NFL's 1940's All-Decade Team and the All-Time Two Way Team. [9][10]

Later life and death

After his retirement as a player in 1950, McAfee and his wife, Jeanne M. McAfee, moved back to Durham, where they raised their three children. Immediately upon his retirement, in 1950, McAfee worked as an NFL referee for several years. At the same time, he and his brother, Wes, started the McAfee Oil Company, a Shell oil distributor. He led McAfee Oil until he sold the company 30 years later.

The brother with him whom he started the oil company, Wes McAfee, had also played football for Duke before being drafted to play in the NFL. Wes played only a single NFL season until he too volunteered to serve in WWII.

According to his obituaries, McAfee rarely spoke of his football exploits after he retired from the sport but did frequently attend Duke athletic events for many years. [11]

McAfee developed dementia in his later years and moved into Cypress Court, an assisted living facility specializing in Alzheimer's and memory care in Decatur, Georgia. Cypress Court is owned and operated by the Seattle-based Emeritus Senior Living. In February 2009, McAfee died from chemical burns after drinking a toxic substance that had not been properly locked up.[12][13] The State of Georgia found Emeritus negligent in McAfee's death. The circumstances surrounding McAfee's death were featured in the 2013 PBS Frontline documentary "Life and Death in Assisted Living".[14]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b Litsky, Frank (March 5, 2009). "George McAfee, N.F.L. Hall of Famer, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Hall of Famer George McAfee Passes Away". National Football Foundation. March 5, 2009. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  4. ^ "Divisional Round - Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams - December 17th, 1950".
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ [4]
  8. ^ [5]
  9. ^ Markus, Robert (October 18, 1965). "Halas Rates Kansas Star with Greats". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 3. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  10. ^ [6]
  11. ^ [7]
  12. ^ "Report: Bears great McAfee died after drinking poison in assisted living". Chicago Tribune. July 31, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  13. ^ James, Susan Donaldson (July 30, 2013). "Dad Dies After Drinking Poison in Assisted Living". ABC News. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  14. ^ Thompson, A.C. (August 1, 2013). "The Deaths and Disappearance that Haunt Assisted Living". Frontline. CBS. Retrieved October 30, 2016.

Further reading

  • Sullivan, George (1972). The Great Running Backs. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 46–49. ISBN 0-399-11026-7.

External links

1939 All-Southern Conference football team

The 1939 All-Southern Conference football team consists of American football players chosen by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) for the All-Southern Conference football team for the 1939 college football season.

1939 Duke Blue Devils football team

The 1939 Duke Blue Devils football team represented the Duke Blue Devils of Duke University during the 1939 college football season. Dutch Stanley succeeded Carl Voyles as end coach of the "Iron Dukes". Halfback George McAfee led the team in rushing, receiving, scoring, kickoff returns, punt returns, interceptions, and punting.

1940 NFL Draft

The 1940 National Football League Draft was held on December 9, 1939, at the Schroeder Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

1941 All-Pro Team

The 1941 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 1941 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the so-called "official" All-Pro team selected by a committee of professional football writers for the NFL (NFL), the sports writers of the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), Collyer's Eye (CE), the New York Daily News (NYDN), and the Chicago Herald American.Players displayed in bold were consensus first-team selections. Five players were named to the first team by all six selectors: Green Bay Packers halfback Cecil Isbell; Chicago Bears halfback George McAfee; Green Bay Packers end Don Hutson; Chicago Bears guard Dan Fortmann; and Chicago Bears center Bulldog Turner.

1941 NFL Championship Game

The 1941 National Football League Championship Game was the ninth annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), held at Wrigley Field in Chicago on December 21. Played two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the attendance was 13,341, the smallest ever to see an NFL title game.

1942 Jacksonville Naval Air Station Flyers football team

The 1942 Jacksonville Naval Air Station Flyers football team represented the Jacksonville Naval Air Station during the 1942 college football season. The team compiled a 9–3 record and outscored opponents 232 to 76. The team was ranked No. 6 among the service teams in a poll of 91 sports writers conducted by the Associated Press.The team's head coach was Hobbs Adams, who coached at Kansas State before the war. Key players included George McAfee (halfback, Chicago Bears), Ray Terrell (halfback, Ole Miss), George Faust (Minnesota), Bill Borcher (Oregon), Vic Fusia (Manhattan), and Bill Chipley. McAfee was selected as the right halfback on the 1942 All-Navy All-America football team.

Chicago Rockets

The Chicago Rockets were an American football team that played in the All-America Football Conference from 1946 to 1949. During the 1949 season, the team was known as the Chicago Hornets. Unlike the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Colts, the franchise did not join the National Football League prior to the 1950 season.

The Chicago Rockets franchise was owned by Chicago trucking executive John L. "Jack" Keeshin, president of the National Jockey Club that owned and operated Sportsman's Park race track in Cicero, Illinois. He originally attempted to purchase the Chicago White Sox from the Comiskey family but was turned down. Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward suggested starting a pro football team in the AAFC. In a market where the NFL Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals were already well established, Keeshin stood little chance of success. He did cause a stir by attempting to sign Chicago Bears stars Sid Luckman, George McAfee and Hugh Gallarneau without success.

The Rockets played their home games at Soldier Field.

George M. McCune

George McAfee "Mac" McCune (June 16, 1908 – November 5, 1948) was an American scholar of Korea who developed, with Edwin O. Reischauer, the McCune–Reischauer romanization of Korean. He taught Korean history and language at Occidental College and the University of California, Berkeley.

Ironton High School

Ironton High School (IHS) is a public high school in Ironton, Ohio, United States. It is the only high school in the Ironton City School District.

List of Chicago Bears in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are currently members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL), and are one of two remaining charter members of NFL. Founded in 1919 by the A.E. Staley Company as the Decatur Staleys and based in Chicago since 1922, the Bears organization has become one of the most successful professional football teams, having won a total of nine professional American football championships—eight NFL Championships and one Super Bowl—second most in the NFL, behind the Green Bay Packers. The franchise has recorded 18 NFL divisional titles, four NFL conference championships, and the most regular season victories of any NFL franchise. 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, 32 individuals who have played, coached, or held an administrative position for the Bears have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Bears hold the record for the most individuals enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.Of the 35 inductees, 28 made their primary contribution to football with the Bears, while the other 7 contributed only a minor portion of their career with the Bears. Of the original 17 individuals inducted in 1963, three spent a majority of their careers with the Chicago Bears. This includes the founder, long time owner, and head coach George Halas, long time halfback and two-way player Bronko Nagurski, and the "Galloping Ghost" Red Grange. The first few years of the Hall of Fame's existence saw 14 Bear players enshrined. Jim Finks was enshrined due to his contributions to the team as a general manager, not a player. Mike Ditka was inducted into the Hall of Fame while serving as the team's head coach. The most recent Bear to be inducted was Brian Urlacher in 2018.

List of Chicago Bears players

The following are lists of past and current players of the Chicago Bears professional American football team.

List of Chicago Bears team records

The Chicago Bears are a National Football League (NFL) franchise based in Chicago. This article lists all the individual and team statistical records complied since the franchise's birth in 1920.

List of Duke Blue Devils in the NFL Draft

This is a list of Duke Blue Devils football players in the NFL Draft.

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 members of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame

Athletes, coaches, and journalists who have been inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

National Football League 1940s All-Decade Team

This is a list of all NFL players who had outstanding performances throughout the 1940s 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.


1 Team belonged to both the National Football Conference and the All-America Football Conference at different times

2 The Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers were merged into one team for the 1943 season due to World War II

3 Three-time finalist to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team

The National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team was chosen by a selection committee of media and league personnel in 1994 to honor the greatest players of the first 75 years of the National Football League (NFL). Five players on the list were on NFL rosters at the time of the selections: Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Rod Woodson, Reggie White, and Ronnie Lott. Gale Sayers was named to the team as both a halfback and kickoff returner. Every player is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, except for Billy "White Shoes" Johnson.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Mercer County, Kentucky

This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Mercer County, Kentucky.

This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in Mercer County, Kentucky, United States. The locations of National Register properties and districts for which the latitude and longitude coordinates are included below, may be seen in a map.There are 71 properties and districts listed on the National Register in the county; 1 of these is a National Historic Landmark. Another property was once listed but has been removed.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted March 7, 2019.

Wes McAfee

Wesley Taylor McAfee (October 20, 1919 – January 26, 1984) was an American football halfback. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL) in 1941. With the Eagles, he appeared in eight games, and carried nine times for six yards, caught three passes for 30 yards and a touchdown, completed a four-yard pass, kicked two extra points, punted once for 32 yards, returned three punts for 21 yards, and returned two kickoffs for 64 yards.McAfee played college football for the Duke Blue Devils football team alongside his older brother, future Pro Football Hall of Fame halfback George McAfee. After college, Wes McAfee was drafted in the 16th round of the 1941 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

George McAfee—championships, awards, and honors

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.