James Gleason Dunn Conzelman (March 6, 1898 – July 31, 1970) was an American football player and coach, baseball executive, and advertising executive. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964 and was selected in 1969 as a quarterback on the National Football League 1920s All-Decade Team.
A native of St. Louis, Conzelman played college football for the 1918 Great Lakes Navy Bluejackets team that won the 1919 Rose Bowl. In 1919, he was an All-Missouri Valley Conference quarterback for the Washington University Pikers football team. He then played ten seasons as a quarterback, halfback, placekicker, and coach in the National Football League (NFL) for the Decatur Staleys (1920), Rock Island Independents (1921–1922), Milwaukee Badgers (1922–1924), Detroit Panthers (1925–1926), and Providence Steam Roller (1927–1929). He was also a team owner in Detroit and, as player-coach, led the 1928 Providence Steam Roller team to an NFL championship.
From 1932 to 1939, Conzelman was the head football coach for the Washington University Bears football team, leading the program to Missouri Valley Conference championships in 1934, 1935, and 1939. He served as head coach of the NFL's Chicago Cardinals from 1940 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1948. He led the Cardinals to an NFL championship in 1947 and Western Division championships in 1947 and 1948. He was also an executive with St. Louis Browns in Major League Baseball from 1943 to 1945.
|Born:||March 6, 1898|
St. Louis, Missouri
|Died:||July 31, 1970 (aged 72)|
St. Louis, Missouri
|High school:||St. Louis (MO) McKinley|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Conzelman was born James Gleason Ryan Dunn in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1898. He was the son of James Dunn and Marguerite Ryan, though his father died when he was still a baby. In 1902, his mother married a dentist, Oscar Conzelman, who adopted him.
Conzelman attended Loyola Academy and later Central High School in St. Louis. He began playing football as a halfback at Central High in 1914. After a realignment of high school districts in 1915, Conzelman attended McKinley High School. At McKinley, Conzelman was the quarterback of the football team, competed on the basketball and track teams, was president of the boys' athletic association, and served as sergeant-at-arms of the Class of 1916. He led the 1915 McKinley football team to a league championship.
Conzelman enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis in 1916. He played freshman football that year but enlisted in the United States Navy when the United States entered World War I in 1917. He was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station north of Chicago. During two years of service, he played for the Naval Station's football, baseball, and basketball teams. He also took up boxing while in the Navy and won a championship in the middleweight division. He was the quarterback of the 1918 Great Lakes Navy Bluejackets football team that defeated previously undefeated Navy and then defeated the Mare Island Marines by a 17–0 score in the 1919 Rose Bowl. Conzelman's teammates on the 1918 Great Lakes team included George Halas and Paddy Driscoll, all three of whom were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After the war, Conzelman turned down offers to become a professional boxer and returned to Washington University in February 1919. He played for the 1919 Washington Pikers football team that compiled a 5–2 record and outscored opponents 127 to 30. Conzelman was selected as the All-Missouri Valley Conference quarterback for 1919. He also was the catcher for the 1920 Washington University baseball team and organized an orchestra, played banjo, and wrote songs while attending Washington University.
During the spring semester of 1920, Conzelman lost his eligibility to play football due to academic deficiencies. His father had also died in May 1919, and he withdrew from school to help support his mother and younger siblings. In June 1920, Conzelman announced that he would not return to Washington University in the fall. He spent the summer leading an orchestra in Arkansas.
In mid-October 1920, Conzelman joined the Decatur Staleys (later renamed the Chicago Bears) of the newly formed American Professional Football Association (later renamed the NFL). He planned to relocate permanently to Decatur and also play for the Staleys baseball and basketball teams. Conzelman was reunited at Decatur with player-coach George Halas, with whom Conzelman had played on the 1918 Great Lakes team. In Conzelman's first game with the Staleys, he scored the game's only touchdown on a 43-yard run. Playing at the halfback position, Conzelman handled punting, placekicking and passing for the Staleys in the important games and was selected as a second-team player on the 1920 All-Pro team. The 1920 Staleys compiled a 10–1–2 record and finished in second place in the league.
In October 1921, Conzelman joined the Rock Island Independents as the team's captain and coach. At age 23, he was one of the youngest coaches in NFL history. He led Rock Island to a 4–1 record during the 1921 season.
After starting the season with Rock Island, Conzelman signed with the Milwaukee Badgers in the middle of their 1922 season. He was the Badgers' coach and a player for the final three games of the 1922 season during which the team went 0–3.
During the 1923 season, Conzelman, as player and coach, led the Badgers to a 7–2–3 record and a third-place finish out of 20 teams in the NFL. Conzelman was also the team's second highest scorer with four touchdowns and two extra points. During the 1924 season, Conzelman remained with the Badgers as a player only. The team's record fell to 5–8 and 12th place in the NFL.
In 1925, Conzelman organized and became the owner of a new NFL franchise in Detroit, which he named the Detroit Panthers. He reportedly paid a franchise fee of only $50 to the NFL to acquire the Detroit franchise. In addition to being the owner, Conzelman was also the team's coach and a player during the 1925 and 1926 NFL seasons. During the 1925 season, Conzelman's Detroit club compiled an 8–2–2 record, played at Navin Field, and outscored opponents by a combined total of 129 to 39.
During the 1926 season, the Panthers dropped to 4–6–2 and compiled a record of 0–3–2 in the month of November. The team's attendance in Detroit was approximately 3,000 persons per game, not enough for Conzelman to make a profit. Accordingly, in August 1927, Conzelman sold the Detroit franchise back to the NFL for $1,200. Conzelman later recalled: "We simply were ahead of our time in Detroit. The town wasn't quite ready for pro football."
In August 1927, following his decision to sell the Detroit franchise back to the league, Conzelman signed as a player, manager and coach for the Providence Steam Roller. Conzelman brought players Gus Sonnenberg and Eddie Lynch with him from Detroit. Conzelman and Wildcat Wilson were the leading scorers on the 1927 Providence team, each with four touchdowns. The Steam Roller finished the 1927 season an 8–5–1 record and a fifth-place finish in the NFL.
Conzelman led the 1928 Providence team to an 8–1–2 record and the club's first NFL championship. The team's passing combination of Wildcat Wilson to Conzelman was the most effective in the league and accounted for most of the club's yardage until Conzelman twisted knee ligaments on a reception against the Yankees. Despite being unable to play in the second half of the season due to the injury, Conzelman was unanimously voted by his teammates as the team's most valuable player.
In the fall of 1931, Conzelman served as the head coach of the St. Louis Gunners, an independent professional football team sponsored by a local field artillery unit of the National Guard. The Gunners posted a 5–2–1 record in 1931. After a game against the NFL's Chicago Cardinals, Chicago captain Ernie Nevers called the Gunners the "best independent club we have ever faced."
In January 1932, Conzelman returned to Washington University in St. Louis as the school's head football coach. He became the school's first alumnus to lead the football team. Over the next eight years, Conzelman led Washington University Bears football team to Missouri Valley Conference championships in 1934, 1935, and 1939, and compiled an overall record of 40–35–2.
In January 1940, Conzelman tendered his resignation as head coach of the Washington University football team, but the resignation was not accepted by the athletic board. The university chancellor directed Conzelman to attend an alumni rally in his support. Conzelman appeared and announced that he would not withdraw his resignation, though he would continue to support the program from the outside. Newspaper accounts indicate that he may have been fired under pressure from a powerful "anti-Conzelman" group of alumni in downtown St. Louis.
In April 1940, Conzelman was hired as the head coach of the NFL's Chicago Cardinals. He replaced Ernie Nevers in the position. In his first stint as head coach of the Cardinals, Conzelmean served three years with the Cardinals from 1940 to 1942, leading the club to a combined three-year record of 8–22.
Conzelman's tenure as head coach of the Cardinals was interrupted by a two-years stint as an administrator in Major League Baseball for the St. Louis Browns. In June 1943, he resigned his job as head coach of the Cardinals and was hired as director of public relations and assistant to Donald Lee Barnes, president and owner of the Browns. He remained with the Browns for two years and was said to be the "secret weapon" of the 1944 St. Louis Browns team that won the American League pennant. Conzelman resigned his post with the club in August 1945.
In late November 1945, Conzelman was hired for a second time to serve as head coach of the Chicago Cardinals starting with the 1946 NFL season. During the 1947 Chicago Cardinals season, the Cardinals with their "Million Dollar Backfield" compiled a 9–3 record and defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1947 NFL Championship Game. Conzelman's 1948 Cardinals team compiled an 11–1 record during the regular season, led the NFL in offense with an average of 32.9 points per game, and lost to the Eagles in the 1948 NFL Championship Game. In their second stint under Conzelman, the Cardinals compiled a 26–9 record from 1946 to 1948.
On January 7, 1949, three weeks after the loss in the 1948 Championship Game, Conzelman resigned as the Cardinals' head coach. He had been working for D'Arcy Advertising Co. for the prior two years during the off-season and stated that he was resigning his coaching position to devote his full efforts to the advertising firm. The Cardinals' management said at the time that Conzelman's resignation was unexpected and "came like a bolt from the blue."
Conzelman was married three times. He was married to Peggy Udell, a Ziegfeld Follies performer, in October 1923. In July 1924, Udell sued for divorce seeking support for an unborn child. The trial of the divorce action was postponed in July 1925 following the birth of the child. Conzelman and Udell were ultimately divorced in 1930. Conzelman's second marriage to Lilian Adele Conzelman ended in divorce in October 1935. He married his third wife, Anna Forrestal, in December 1936. Conzelman and his third wife had a son, James D. Conzelman, Jr. They remained married at the time of Conzelman's death.
After resigning as coach of the Cardinals in 1949, Conzelman continued working as an advertising executive. He also made occasional appearances in stage and opera productions.
During his retirement and posthumously, Conzelman received numerous honors for his contributions to the sport of football. These honors include the following:
|Washington University Bears (Missouri Valley Conference) (1932–1939)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title or championship game berth|
The 1918 Great Lakes Navy Bluejackets football team represented the Naval Station Great Lakes, the United States Navy's boot camp located near North Chicago, Illinois, in college football during the 1918 college football season.The team compiled a 7–0–2 record, won the 1919 Rose Bowl, and featured three players (George Halas, Jimmy Conzelman, and Paddy Driscoll) who were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Charlie Bachman, who was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach, also played for the 1918 Great Lakes team. Bachman at center, and the two guards, captain Emmett Keefe and Jerry Jones, were all former players for Notre Dame. Both ends came from Illinois, Halas and Dick Reichle. Hugh Blacklock and Conrad L. Eklund were at tackle.The team's backfield was Driscoll, Hal Erickson, Lawrence Eileson, and Blondy Reeves.1920 Decatur Staleys season
The 1920 Decatur Staleys season was the inaugural regular season of the franchise that would be known as the Chicago Bears, and they completed in the newly formed American Professional Football Association. The club posted a 10–1–2 record under first year head coach/player George Halas earning them a second-place finish in the team standings. The stars of the Staleys were Ed "Dutch" Sternaman, Jimmy Conzelman, and George Halas. Sternaman had a remarkable season with 11 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TDs, 4 field goals, and 3 PATs, totaling 87 points scored out of the Staleys' total of 164. Jimmy Conzelman ran for two scores and threw two more. Halas led the team in receiving scores with 2. In the last league game of the season, the Staleys needed a win versus Akron to have a chance at the title. Akron, predictably, played for a tie, achieved that, and won the first APFA title.1922 NFL season
The 1922 NFL season was the third regular season of what was now called the National Football League (NFL); the league changed their name from American Professional Football Association (APFA) on June 24. The NFL fielded 18 teams during the season, including new league teams such as the Milwaukee Badgers, the Oorang Indians, the Racine Legion, and the Toledo Maroons. Meanwhile, the Chicago Staleys changed their name to the Chicago Bears, and the Racine Cardinals changed their name to the Chicago Cardinals. The Muncie Flyers, Cleveland Indians, Brickley's New York Giants, Cincinnati Celts, Tonawanda Kardex, Washington Senators, and Detroit Tigers dropped out of the league. A 19th team, the Youngstown Patricians, was scheduled to join the league, and had its schedule laid out, but folded before playing in the league. A 20th, the Philadelphia Union Quakers, also was set to join (but presumably not as far along as the Youngstown plans), but did not, due partly to the fact that the Quakers were merely a front for the existing Buffalo All-Americans to play extra games on Saturday. After a four-year hiatus, the Quakers instead joined the American Football League (1926).
The Canton Bulldogs were named the 1922 NFL Champions after ending the season with a 10–0–2 record.1925 Detroit Panthers season
The 1925 Detroit Panthers season was their third in the league and first season as the Panthers. The team improved on their previous output of 1–5–1, winning eight games. They finished third in the league. The Panthers played in the first Wednesday game in NFL history against the Cleveland Bulldogs, and won 22–13. Future Pro Football Hall of Famer Jimmy Conzelman scored two touchdowns in the first quarter.Detroit (1920s NFL teams)
Detroit, Michigan had four early teams in the National Football League before the Detroit Lions. The Heralds played in 1920, and had played as an independent as far back as 1905. The Tigers, a continuation of the Heralds, played in 1921, folding midseason and sending their players to the Buffalo All-Americans. The Panthers competed from 1925 to 1926 and the Wolverines in 1928.Dewey Scanlon
Dewey D. Scanlon (August 16, 1899 – September 24, 1944) was an American football coach, and was the head coach for the National Football League's Duluth Kelleys/Eskimos from 1924 to 1926 and for the Chicago Cardinals in 1929. As an NFL head coach, he compiled a record of 17–15–4 in four seasons. He also appeared in one game as a wingback for Duluth in 1926. Scanlon was born in Duluth, Minnesota and attended Valparaiso University.Douglas Park (Rock Island)
Douglas Park is located at 18th Avenue and 10th Street in Rock Island, Illinois. A former National Football League venue, it was the site of the first National Football League game on September 26, 1920. The stadium was home to the Rock Island Independents from 1907 until 1925. The Independents were an original franchise of the National Football League (1920–1925). It was a minor league baseball stadium for the Rock Island Islanders from 1907 until 1937. The Islanders played in the Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League (1920–1921), Mississippi Valley League (1922–1933) and Western League (1934–1937). Numerous Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductees, including NFL legends George Halas, Curly Lambeau and Jim Thorpe, performed at Douglas Park.Frank Coughlin
Francis Edward Coughlin (February 28, 1896 – September 8, 1951) was an American football player and coach.Fred Gillies
Frederick Montague Gillies (December 9, 1895 – May 8, 1974) was an American football player and coach for the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League. He graduated from Cornell University in 1918 and was a member of the Quill and Dagger society. He appeared in 72 games, 51 of which as a starter, as a tackle for the Chicago Cardinals between 1920 and 1933, earning All-Pro honors in 1922. He coached the team in 1928, which was his final season as a player and only as a coach, to a 1-5 record.
Fred later married Blanche Wilderand and adopted Theo Janet Howells, the biological daughter of Blanche's sister, Gertrude Wilder. Gillies also worked and volunteered for the Republican Party.
In 1932, he was a survivor in a plane crash that took the life of aviator Eddie Stinson, the founder of Stinson Aircraft Company. Gillies suffered a leg injury, as a result of the accident, which left him in a leg brace for the rest of his life.Great Lakes Navy Bluejackets football
The Great Lakes Navy Bluejackets football represented the Naval Station Great Lakes, the United States Navy's boot camp located near North Chicago, Illinois, in college football.The 1918 Great Lakes Navy Bluejackets football team compiled a 6–0–2 record, won the 1919 Rose Bowl, and featured three players (George Halas, Jimmy Conzelman, and Paddy Driscoll) who were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Charlie Bachman, who was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach, also played for the 1918 Great Lakes team.Jim Hanifan
James Martin Michael Hanifan (born September 21, 1933 in Compton, California) is a longtime American football coach and former head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons. He compiled a career record of 39-53-1.LeRoy Andrews
LeRoy B. Andrews, or commonly Roy Andrews, (born June 27, 1896) was an American football player and coach. He played college football at Pittsburg State University. In 1923, he played for the St. Louis All Stars. From 1924 to 1927, he was a player-coach for the Kansas City Blues/Cowboys and the Cleveland Bulldogs. From 1928 to 1931, he coached the Detroit Wolverines, the New York Giants, and the Chicago Cardinals.List of Arizona Cardinals head coaches
The Arizona Cardinals are a professional American football team based in Glendale, Arizona. They are a member of the Western Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The team began as the Morgan Athletic Club in 1898 in Chicago, Illinois. The team's second name was the Racine Normals, since it played at Normal Field on Racine Street. In 1901, they were renamed to the Racine Street Cardinals, a name that came from the University of Chicago jerseys that the team used, which were described as "Cardinal red". The team was established in Chicago in 1898 and was a charter member of the NFL in 1920. The team has played their home games at the University of Phoenix Stadium since 2006 and is the oldest franchise in the NFL.The team has moved to numerous cities during its history. After staying in Chicago from 1920 to 1959, it moved to St. Louis, Missouri and remained there from 1960 to 1987. It played in Tempe, Arizona, from 1988 to 2005, before eventually settling in Glendale, Arizona in 2006, where it now resides. Since 1920, two Cardinals coaches have won the NFL Championship: Norman Barry in 1925 and Jimmy Conzelman in 1947. Five other coaches—Don Coryell, Jim Hanifan, Vince Tobin, Ken Whisenhunt and Bruce Arians—have led the Cardinals to the playoffs, and in 2009 they went to the Super Bowl.There have been 40 head coaches for the Cardinals franchise since it became a professional team in 1920; fourteen of the team's coaches are former Cardinals players. Ernie Nevers and Jimmy Conzelman are the only coaches to have had more than one tenure with the team. Pop Ivy and Gene Stallings both coached the team during its move from one city to another. Cardinals coach Roy Andrews is tied for the lowest winning percentage among the team's coaches (.000), having lost the only game he coached, in 1931. Co-coach Walt Kiesling lost all 10 games he coached in 1943, when the team merged with the Steelers during World War II and was known as Card-Pitt. Co-coaches Ray Willsey, Ray Prochaska, and Chuck Drulis have the highest winning percentage among Cardinals coaches (1.000). The team's all-time leader in games coached is Ken Whisenhunt, who was hired on January 14, 2007, with 96. Whisenhunt was fired on December 31, 2012, after the Cardinals recorded a 5–11 record in 2012.The all-time leader in wins is Arians with 50, including one playoff victory. The all-time leader in wins is Bruce Arians with 50, including one playoff victory.List of Arizona Cardinals seasons
This is a list of seasons completed by the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are an American football franchise competing as a member of the West division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The list documents the season-by-season records of the Cardinals' franchise from 1920 to present, including postseason records, and league awards for individual players or head coaches.Lou Smyth
Louie Lehman Smyth (March 19, 1898 – September 11, 1964) was a professional football player for the Canton Bulldogs from 1920 until 1923. Smyth won two NFL championships with the Bulldogs in 1922 and 1923 and another with the Yellow Jackets in 1926. He also played for the Hartford Blues, Rochester Jeffersons and the Providence Steamroller. Outside of the National Football League, he played for the Gilberton Cadamounts of the Anthracite League. During his year in Gilberton, Smyth doubled as a player with the Jeffersons.
In 1923 Smyth led the NFL in touchdowns, with 7.Smyth was strong runner. He was able to run over opposing linemen due to his size. However, he was also an effective passer. Although he completed 25% of his passes, his passing average was better than 20-yards per completion. He also led the league in both touchdowns rushing and touchdown passes thrown, matching the record held by Jimmy Conzelman from the 1922 season. On defense, he may also have tied for the NFL lead in interceptions however no official statistics were kept at the time.Milwaukee Badgers
The Milwaukee Badgers were a professional American football team, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that played in the National Football League from 1922 to 1926. The team played its home games at Athletic Park, later known as Borchert Field, on Milwaukee's north side. The team was notable for having a large number of African-American players for the time.After the team folded following the 1926 season (largely due to being left broke because of a $500 fine by the NFL for using four high-school players in a 1925 game against the Chicago Cardinals, a game arranged after the Badgers had disbanded for the season), many of its members played for the independent semi-pro Milwaukee Eagles. A few of the players from this team went on to play for the NFL's Pittsburgh Pirates in 1933. This has led some to mistakenly believe that either the Badgers or Eagles became the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Milwaukee market is now claimed by the Green Bay Packers, who played three or four regular season games there from 1933–94, including the 1939 NFL Championship Game and the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Packers still reserve two games a season for their old Milwaukee season ticket holders, and have their flagship radio station there as well.Providence Steam Roller
The Providence Steam Roller (also referred to as the Providence Steam Rollers, the Providence Steamroller and the Providence Steamrollers) was a professional American football team based in Providence, Rhode Island in the National Football League from 1925 to 1931. Providence was the first New England team to win an NFL championship. The Steam Roller won the league's championship in 1928. They are the last team to win a championship and no longer be in the league. Most of their home games were played in a 10,000-seat stadium that was built for bicycle races called the Cycledrome.Rock Island Independents
The Rock Island Independents were a professional American football team, based in Rock Island, Illinois, from 1907–1926. The Independents were a founding National Football League franchise. They hosted what has been retrospectively designated the First National Football League Game on September 26, 1920 at Douglas Park.
In 1926, the Independents left the NFL to become a charter member of the first American Football League, the only NFL team to do so. The Independents then folded along with the entire league in 1927.Pro Football Hall of Fame alumni Jimmy Conzelman (1920–1921), Joe Guyon (1924), Ed Healey (1920–1922) and Jim Thorpe (1924–1925) played for the Independents.Washington University Bears football
The Washington University Bears football team represents Washington University in St. Louis in collegiate level football. The team competes in NCAA Division III and starting in 2018 as an affiliate member of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. They are a primary member of the University Athletic Association. They were previously a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.. The school's first football team was fielded in 1890. The team plays its home games at the 3,300 seat Francis Field.
Former Washington University Bears football player and head coach Jimmy Conzelman is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.Former Washington University Bears football head coach Weeb Ewbank, later coach of AFL, NFL, and Super Bowl champion teams is also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
# denotes interim head coach
Jimmy Conzelman—championships, awards, and honors