Jim Finks

James Edward Finks (August 31, 1927 – May 8, 1994) was an American football and Canadian football player, coach, and executive.

Jim Finks
No. 7
Personal information
Born:August 31, 1927
St. Louis, Missouri
Died:May 8, 1994 (aged 66)
Metairie, Louisiana
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:180 lb (82 kg)
Career information
High school:Salem (IL)
NFL Draft:1949 / Round: 12 / Pick: 116
Career history
As player:
As coach:
As administrator:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
QB Rating:54.7
Player stats at NFL.com

Early life and playing career

Finks was born in St. Louis, Missouri, attended high school in Salem, Illinois, and attended college at the University of Tulsa. After being selected as a 12th-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1949 NFL Draft, he played for several years as a defensive back and quarterback, retiring after the 1955 season.

College coaching and CFL career

Finks served as an assistant coach under Terry Brennan at the University of Notre Dame in 1956, after which he went on to the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, where he served as a player/coach before becoming the general manager on October 31, 1957.[1] Finks turned the Stampeders into a winning team. He signed many of the players that made Calgary the winningest team in the CFL during the 1960s, though the team did not win a Grey Cup title until 1971. He also signed quarterback Joe Kapp, who would also later play under Finks in the NFL.

NFL front office career

In 1964, Finks was named the general manager of the Minnesota Vikings. In 1968, Minnesota won its first NFL Central Division Championship, marking the start of a dynasty that produced 11 division championship teams and four Super Bowl appearances in the following 14 years. In 1969, the Vikings won 12 of 14 games and claimed the NFL championship before losing to the American Football League's Kansas City Chiefs 23–7 in Super Bowl IV.

The Vikings team that Finks put together was powered by a dynamic defensive front four, popularly known as The "Purple People Eaters". The first member of the unit, defensive end Jim Marshall, came to the Vikings in a 1961 trade before Finks arrived. In 1964, the new general manager added two potential stars to the line: end Carl Eller as a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, and tackle Gary Larsen in a trade. He completed "The Purple People Eaters" in 1967 by picking Alan Page in the draft.

In 1967, Norm Van Brocklin resigned as head coach and Finks immediately hired Bud Grant, who had been a successful coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL for 10 seasons. That year, Finks also brought in a new quarterback, Joe Kapp, from the CFL. Kapp had played for the Calgary Stampeders when Finks was its General Manager. During the 1969 NFL championship season, Kapp passed for a record seven touchdowns against the Baltimore Colts and was a major contributor to his team's success.

In 1972, Finks made another daring trade with the New York Giants, this time to bring back Fran Tarkenton, the quarterback he had traded in 1967. In 1973, the Vikings defeated the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC championship but lost to the Miami Dolphins 24–7 in Super Bowl VIII. It turned out to be the last game with the Vikings for Finks, who that season was named the NFL Executive of the Year. Finks, who had been named a club vice-president in 1972 as a reward for his brilliant work, resigned in May 1974.

Chicago Bears

Finks joined the Chicago Bears, as general manager and executive vice-president. He spent the remainder of the 1974 season studying the Bears player talent as well as opposition players from all around the NFL. The next year, he began employing the same formula he used so well in Minnesota to improve the Bears' talent pool.

The Bears under Finks improved. By 1977, they reached the playoffs for the first time since 1963. They were a playoff team again in 1979 with a 10–6 record, best-ever for the Finks-led Bears. But Finks' tenure in Chicago ended suddenly in 1982 when he resigned because George Halas did not consult him in the hiring of Mike Ditka as head coach.

Finks contributed to one of the most dominant NFL teams of the 1980s. The 1985 Bears went over 15–1 in regular season and shut out both the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams in playoff games leading to the Super Bowl.

After leaving the Bears, Finks joined the Chicago Cubs as president and chief executive officer in September 1983. He remained through the 1984 season when the Cubs captured the 1984 National League's Eastern Division crown.

Later career

On January 14, 1986, Finks took charge of a New Orleans Saints team that never had experienced a winning season in its 19-year history. His first move was to hire a new coach, Jim Mora. Success came more quickly for Finks in New Orleans than it had in either Minnesota or Chicago. In just his second season, the Saints won 12 games for their first winning season ever. Finks was named NFL Executive of the Year for the second time.

When NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle retired in 1989, Finks was the leading candidate to replace him. He was the only candidate put forward for the job by a six-owner search committee (Wellington Mara, Lamar Hunt, Art Modell, Robert Parins, Dan Rooney, and Ralph Wilson), however, a group of eleven newer owners who wanted more of a voice in the selection process abstained from voting, preventing Finks from receiving the nineteen votes necessary to become Commissioner.[2][3] Six months later, a second meeting was held and it ended with 13 votes for Finks and 13 for attorney Paul Tagliabue.[4] At a third meeting, a compromise was reached by the two groups that would make Tagliabue Commissioner and Finks president in charge of football operations. However, Finks declined this position and Tagliabue was elected by an undisclosed number of votes.[5]


Finks died in 1994 in Metairie, Louisiana from lung cancer.[6] He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995. Finks became the first person whose enshrinement was based substantially on achievements with the Saints franchise, though he had also previously built the Vikings and Bears into Super Bowl teams. His longest tenure was spent with the Minnesota Vikings. His son Jim Finks, Jr. authored the 2009 book COLORS: Pro Football Uniforms of the Past and Present.


  1. ^ http://www.newspaperarchive.com/LandingPage.aspx?type=glpnews&search=general%20manager%20of%20the%20calgary%20of%20canadian%20football%20league&img=\\na0001\281056\3006944_clean.html
  2. ^ George, Thomas (July 8, 1989). "After Election of Finks Is Blocked, N.F.L. to Try Again". The New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  3. ^ Eskenazi, Gerald (July 20, 1989). "Finks May Still Wind Up as Commissioner". The New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  4. ^ Oates, Bob (October 13, 1989). "NFL Deadlock Keeping Rozelle Tied Up". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  5. ^ George, Thomas (October 27, 1989). "Tagliabue Is Elected N.F.L. Commissioner". The New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  6. ^ William N. Wallace, "Jim Finks, 66, Football Player Who Became N.F.L. Executive", New York Times, May 10, 1994

External links

Preceded by
Andrew J. McKenna
Chicago Cubs President
Succeeded by
Dallas Green
1955 NFL season

The 1955 NFL season was the 36th regular season of the National Football League. NBC paid $100,000 to replace DuMont as the national television network for the NFL Championship Game. The season ended when the Cleveland Browns defeated the Los Angeles Rams 38–14 in the title game.

1960 Calgary Stampeders season

The 1960 Calgary Stampeders finished in 3rd place in the W.I.F.U. with a 6–8–2 record. They were defeated in the West Semi-Finals by the Edmonton Eskimos.

This was the first season at McMahon Stadium for the Stamps.

1986 New Orleans Saints season

The 1986 New Orleans Saints season was the team's 20th as a member of the National Football League. They bested their previous season's output of 5–11, winning seven games.

1993 New Orleans Saints season

The 1993 New Orleans Saints season was the team's 27th as a member of the National Football League (NFL). They were unable to match their previous season's output of 12–4, winning only eight games, despite starting the season 5–0. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Quarterback Bobby Hebert, who was the Saints' starter from late 1985 through 1992, save for a season-long holdout in 1990, signed as a free agent with the division rival Atlanta Falcons. Wade Wilson, who had fallen out of favor with the Minnesota Vikings after the hiring of coach Dennis Green in 1992, was signed as Hebert's replacement.During a loss to the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, fans in the Louisiana Superdome let out a sarcastic cheer when Wilson was injured. The incident enraged coach Jim Mora, who let loose with a tirade during his post-game press conference.

Buzz Warren

Buist Lamb "Buzz" Warren (1916–1986) was an American football player who played one season in the National Football League (NFL) in 1945. He coached high school football many years.

Calgary Stampeders

The Calgary Stampeders are a professional Canadian football team based in Calgary, Alberta, competing in the West Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL). The Stampeders play their home games at McMahon Stadium and are the third-oldest active franchise in the CFL. The Stampeders were officially founded in 1945, although there were clubs operating in Calgary as early as 1909.The Calgary Stampeders have won eight Grey Cups, most recently in 2018, from their appearances in 17 Grey Cup Championship games. They have won 20 Western Division Championships and one Northern Division Championship in the franchise's history. The team has a provincial rivalry with the Edmonton Eskimos, as well as fierce divisional rivalries with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the BC Lions.

Carl Cronin

Carl M. Cronin was a quarterback who played two seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Winnipeg Pegs. He then was a head coach for the Calgary Bronks for five seasons. In 1967, he was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

Ed Matesic

Edward J. Matesic (1907–1988) was an American football player for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Also went by the first name of Dick, Lefty, and Richard. Led the University of Pittsburgh in interceptions in 1931. In 1931 only the statistics of yards and touchdowns were recorded and not the number of interceptions. In 1931 Ed had 91 yards and one touchdown on interceptions. Then played HB/TB in the pros. Was the Pittsburgh Pirates starting quarterback in 1936. Pirates later became the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his pro career threw for 1,412 yards and 8 touchdowns, ran for 377 yards and one touchdown, caught 4 passes for 51 yards and one touchdown.

Joe Gasparella

Joseph Richard Gasparella (February 5, 1927 – November 21, 2000) was an American football quarterback who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League. He played college football at University of Notre Dame for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Gasparella was the coach of the Carnegie Tech Tartans from 1963 to 1975.

Johnny Gildea

John Thomas "Johnny" Gildea (March 9, 1910 – November 20, 1979) was an American football quarterback, punter and halfback who played four seasons in the National Football League with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants.

List of American Football League officials

Just as it did in many other innovative ways, the American Football League (AFL, 1960–1969) had a unique take on the uniforms of referees, umpires, line judges, field judges and back judges. With their red-orange stripes, black collars and cuffs, and AFL logos on their shirt fronts, sleeves and caps, they were not only more colorful, but easier to see than those of the other league. They were especially unique when seen on color television, which was also on the rise in the 1960s. Both the National Football League and All-America Football Conference had used colored uniforms in the 1940s.

In his book COLORS, Jim Finks Jr., son of Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Jim Finks, Sr., shows the original uniform of AFL official Jack Reader, who was a back judge in the first AFL game in 1960 and in both the first and third AFL-NFL World Championship games. Reader was in an iconic January 20, 1969 Sports Illustrated photo, signaling a touchdown after Matt Snell's 4-yard plunge against the Colts.

The following list indicates men who were American Football League on-field officials: an important but seldom-credited part of the game. Nine, as shown in the list below, officiated in the American Football League for the entire ten years of its existence, 1960 through 1969. They were: Ben Dreith (FJ, R); Bob Finley (U, R); Hugh Gamber (BJ, FJ); Elvin Hutchison (HL); John McDonough (R); Walt Parker (U); Jack Reader (BJ, R); Al Sabato (HL) and George Young (U).

There were 34 on-field officials in the AFL in 1969, the league's last year of play. 32 of them were good enough to continue to officiate after the merger. One of them was Cal Lepore, now known as "the father of instant replay". He also promulgated the use of replay to review the accuracy of on-field calls, for the evaluation of officials. Another important link from the American Football League to today's professional football.

Bob Austin (AFL Supervisor of Officials, 1960–1965)

James Barnhill

Bob Baur

Peppy Blount

Harold Bourne

Gilbert Castree

Al Conway

Art Demmas

Clyde Devine

Ray Dodez

Ben Dreith (Ten-year American Football League official, 1960–1969)

Dick Eichhorst

George Ellis

Bob Finley (Ten-year American Football League official, 1960–1969)

Walt Fitzgerald

John Fouch

Kenny Gallagher

Hugh Gamber (Ten-year American Football League official, 1960–1969)

Fritz Graf

Gerald Hart

Mel Hein (AFL Supervisor of Officials, 1966–1969)

Al Huetter

Elvin Hutchison (Ten-year American Football League official, 1960–1969)

Hunter Jackson

Harry Kessel

Bill Kestermeier

Frank Kirkland

Joe Kraus

Cal Lepore

Charles Liley

Pat Mallette

Bo McAllister

Jack McLain

John McDonough (Ten-year American Football League official, 1960–1969)

George McGuane

Carl Mellinger

Leo Miles

Tommy Miller

John Morrow

Charlie Musser

George Parker

Walt Parker (Ten-year American Football League official, 1960–1969)

Jack Reader (Officiated the first AFL game in 1960. Ten-year American Football League official, 1960–1969)

Bob Rice

Frank Rustich

James Ryan

Al Sabato (Ten-year American Football League official, 1960–1969)

Ambrose Schindler

John Steffen

William Stein

Bill Summers

Paul Trepinski

Price Truitt

Dick Ulrich

Jack Vest

Tony Veteri

Aaron Wade

Bob Whetstone

Bob Wortman

Bill Wright

George Young (Ten-year American Football League official, 1960–1969)

List of Calgary Stampeders head coaches

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

The Stampeders were founded in 1935 (as the Calgary Bronks), although the team was inactive from 1941 to 1944.

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 Cubs owners and executives

This is a list of owners and executives of the Chicago Cubs.

List of Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterbacks

These quarterbacks have started at least one game for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League.

Max Fiske (American football)

Max Joseph Fiske (September 27, 1913 – March 15, 1973) was an American football player for the Pittsburgh Pirates, now the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In 1977, he was inducted into the Roseland Pullman Sports Hall of Fame.

Ron C. Smith

Ronald Christopher Smith (born June 27, 1942 in Richmond, Virginia) is a retired American football quarterback who spent one season with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. He played 9 games for the Steelers in 1966, and 1 for the Los Angeles Rams in 1965.

Tony Holm

Bernard Patrick Holm (May 22, 1908 – July 15, 1978), nicknamed Tony Holm, was a professional American football player. In his four seasons in the NFL he played punter and quarterback. In 1933 he became the first quarterback for the now Pittsburgh Steelers. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Holm played college football for Wallace Wade's Alabama Crimson Tide football teams, earning All-America honors in 1929. "Wade's big express-train fullback, Tom Holm, is in the south all of what Al Marsters and Chris Cagle are in the east. His greatest game was in a 33–13 loss to Georgia Tech.

Running backs
Wide receivers /
Tight ends
Pre-modern era
two-way players
Defensive backs
and punters
Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor

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