Harold Edward "Red" Grange (June 13, 1903 – January 28, 1991), nicknamed "The Galloping Ghost", was an American football halfback for the University of Illinois, the Chicago Bears, and for the short-lived New York Yankees. His signing with the Bears helped legitimize the National Football League (NFL). He is a charter member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
In college, Grange was a three-time consensus All-American and led his team to a national championship in 1923. He was the only consensus All-American running back in 1924 who was not a member of the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. The same year, Grange became the first recipient of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football award as the Big Ten Conference's most valuable player. In 2008, he was named the best college football player of all time by ESPN, and in 2011, he was named the Greatest Big Ten Icon by the Big Ten Network.
|Born:||June 13, 1903|
|Died:||January 28, 1991 (aged 87)|
Lake Wales, Florida
|Height:||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight:||175 lb (79 kg)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Red Grange was born on June 13, 1903, in Forksville, Pennsylvania, a village of about 200 people among lumber camps. His father was the foreman of three lumber camps. His mother died when he was just five years old. For a number of years, the Grange family lived with relatives until they could finally afford a home of their own in Wheaton, Illinois.
When they arrived in Wheaton, Grange's father worked hard and became the chief of police. In four years at Wheaton High School,[note 1] Grange earned 16 varsity letters in football, baseball, basketball, and track; he scored 75 touchdowns and 532 points for the football team. As a high school junior, Grange scored 36 touchdowns and led Wheaton High School to an undefeated season. In his senior year, his team won every game but one in which they lost 39–0 to Scott High School in Toledo, Ohio. Knocked out in this game, Grange remained unconscious for two days, having difficulty speaking when he awoke. Grange was also an all-state track and field runner. In 1920, he was a state champion in the high jump and placed third and fourth in the 100-yard dash and the 220-yard dash, respectively. In 1921, he won the state title in both the long jump and the 100-yard dash, and in 1922, he placed third in the 100-yard dash and won the 220-yard dash.
To help the family earn money, he took a part-time job as an ice toter for $37.50 per week, a job which helped him to build his core strength and from which he got the nicknames "Ice Man" and "the Wheaton Ice Man."
After graduation, Grange enrolled at the University of Illinois, where he was admitted to the Zeta Psi fraternity. At first he had planned to compete only in basketball and track, but changed his mind once he arrived and joined coach Bob Zuppke's Fighting Illini football team. Grange was the roommate of college basketball player and future college basketball coach John Mauer.
Grange played for the team from 1923 to 1925. In his first collegiate football game, he scored three touchdowns against Nebraska. He once scored four touchdowns in twelve minutes. In seven games as a sophomore, he ran for 723 yards and scored 12 touchdowns, and led Illinois to an undefeated season and the Helms Athletic Foundation national championship.
Grange drew national attention for his performance in the October 18, 1924 game against Michigan, in the grand opening game of the new Memorial Stadium, built as a memorial to Illini students and alumni who had served in World War I. The Michigan Wolverines entered the game as favorites, having won a national title the previous year. Grange returned the opening kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown and scored three more touchdowns on runs of 67, 56, and 44 yards in the first 12 minutes, the last three in less than seven minutes. On his next carry, he ran 56 yards for yet another touchdown. In the second half Grange scored a fifth touchdown on an 11-yard run and also threw a touchdown pass. On defense he intercepted two passes. Michigan coach Fielding Yost said, "All Grange can do is run," to which the Illinois coach, Bob Zuppke, referring to a famed opera star of the age, responded, "And all Galli-Curci can do is sing."
The game inspired Grantland Rice to write this poetic description:
A streak of fire, a breath of flame
Eluding all who reach and clutch;
A gray ghost thrown into the game
That rival hands may never touch;
A rubber bounding, blasting soul
Whose destination is the goal — Red Grange of Illinois!
Chicago sportswriter Warren Brown nicknamed Grange "The Galloping Ghost". When asked in a 1974 interview, "Was it Grantland Rice who dubbed you the Galloping Ghost?" Grange replied, "No, it was Warren Brown, who was a great writer with the Chicago American in those days."
In 1925, Grange rushed for a career-high 237 yards through deep mud and scored three touchdowns in a 24–2 upset of the University of Pennsylvania. After Grange ran 363 yards, Laurence Stallings, a famed war correspondent for the New York World, said, "This story's too big for me. I can't write it." Grange's younger brother Garland also played football at Illinois.
In his 20-game college career, Grange ran for 3,362 yards, caught 14 passes for 253 yards, and completed 40 of 82 passes for 575 yards. Of his 31 touchdowns, 16 were from at least 20 yards, with nine from more than 50 yards. He scored at least one touchdown in every game he played but one, a loss to Nebraska in his senior season. He earned All-America recognition three consecutive years, and appeared on the cover of Time on October 5, 1925. His number 77 was retired by the University of Illinois.[note 2]
In 2002, the NCAA published "NCAA Football's Finest," researched and compiled by the NCAA Statistics Service. For Grange they published the following statistics:
|Year||Carries||Rush yards||Average||Pass attempts||Completions||Pass yards||Interceptions||Plays||Total offense||Touchdowns||Points|
On leaving college, Grange was immediately courted by teams in the National Football League. The long-suffering Rochester Jeffersons made a last-ditch effort to sign him at a salary of $5,000 per game, but were unable to do so, a key factor in the team's demise. The Chicago Bears signed him; player-manager George Halas agreed to a contract for a 19-game barnstorming tour, which Grange signed the day after he played his last college game. The contract earned him a salary and share of gate receipts that amounted to $100,000, during an era when typical league salaries were less than $100/game. That 67-day tour is credited with legitimizing professional football and the NFL in the United States.
On December 6, 1925, between 65,000 and 73,000 people showed up at the Polo Grounds to watch Grange, helping save the New York Giants' franchise. Grange scored a touchdown on a 35-yard interception return in the Bears' 19–7 victory. Offensively, he ran for 53 yards on 11 carries, caught a 23-yard pass, and completed two of three passes for 32 yards. In his first year, he accounted for at least 401 total yards and three touchdowns in his five official NFL games for the Bears.
Grange became involved in a dispute with the Bears and left to form his own league, the American Football League, to challenge the NFL. The league only lasted one season, after which Grange's team, the New York Yankees, was assimilated into the NFL. In 1927, Grange suffered a serious knee injury against the Bears, which robbed him of some speed and his cutting ability. After sitting out 1928, Grange returned to the Bears, where he remained as a solid player through 1934.
The two highlights of Grange's later NFL years came in consecutive championship games. In the unofficial 1932 championship, Grange caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Bronko Nagurski. It was argued the pass was illegal. In the 1933 championship, Grange made a touchdown-saving tackle that saved the game and the title for the Bears.
He was a very modest person, who insisted that even the ordinary plumber or electrician knows more about his craft than he does. He said he could not explain how he did what he did on the field of play, and that he just followed his instincts.
Grange's manager, C. C. Pyle, realized that as the greatest football star of his era, Grange could attract moviegoers, as well as sports fans. During his time as a professional football player, Grange starred in two silent films, One Minute to Play (1926) and A Racing Romeo (1927). Grange also starred in a 12-part serial series The Galloping Ghost in 1931.
Grange retired from professional football in 1934, earning a living in a variety of jobs including motivational speaker and sports announcer. In the 1950s, he announced Chicago Bears games for CBS television and college football (including the Sugar Bowl) for NBC. Grange married his wife Margaret, nicknamed Muggs, in 1941, and they were together until his death in 1991. She was a flight attendant, and they met on a plane. The couple had no children.
Grange's autobiography, first published in 1953, is The Red Grange Story. The book was written "as told to" Ira Morton, a syndicated newspaper columnist from Chicago.
To commemorate college football's 100th anniversary in 1969, the Football Writers Association of America chose an all-time All-America team. Grange was the only unanimous choice. Then in 1999, he was ranked number 80 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. In 2008, Grange was also ranked #1 on ESPN's Top 25 Players In College Football History list.
In honor of his achievements at the University of Illinois, the school erected a 12-ft statue of Grange at the start of the 2009 football season. In 2011, Grange was announced as number one on the "Big Ten Icons" series presented by the Big Ten Network.
In 1931, Grange visited Abington Senior High School in Abington, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Shortly thereafter, the school adopted his nickname for the mascot in his honor, the Galloping Ghost. Also, Wheaton Warrenville South High School's football field is named in his honor and the team is referred to as the Wheaton Warrenville South Red Grange Tigers. Annually, the Wheaton Warrenville South Boys Track and Field team hosts the Red Grange Invitational in honor of Grange's achievements in track and field.
Every December, a junior college bowl game is held in his honor known as the Red Grange bowl, in his home state of Illinois. In 2017, Mesabi Range College was defeated by the College of Dupage in the 2nd edition of this bowl.
The 1923 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations and writers that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1923. The only two selectors recognized by the NCAA as "official" for the 1923 season are Walter Camp, whose selections were published in Collier's Weekly, and Football World magazine. Additional selectors who chose All-American teams in 1923 include Athletic World magazine, selected by 500 coaches, Norman E. Brown, sports editor of the Central Press Association, and Davis J. Walsh, sports editor for the International News Service.
The consensus All-Americans recognized by the NCAA include: halfback Red Grange of Illinois, known as "The Galloping Ghost" and who in 2008 was named by ESPN as the best college football player of all time; halfback Harry Wilson of Penn State, who was later inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame; quarterback George Pfann of Cornell, who later became a Rhodes scholar; end Lynn Bomar of Vanderbilt, who became one of the first Southern players to be recognized as a consensus All-American; tackle Marty Below of Wisconsin, who Red Grange called "the greatest lineman that I ever played against"; and center Jack Blott of Michigan, who later played professional baseball for the Cincinnati Reds.1923 Illinois Fighting Illini football team
The 1923 Illinois Fighting Illini football team represented the University of Illinois in the 1923 Big Ten Conference football season. The Fighting Illini compiled an 8–0 record (5–0 against Big Ten Conference opponents) and outscored their opponents by a combined total of 136 to 20. The team was selected retroactively as the national champion by the Boand System, College Football Researchers Association, Helms Athletic Foundation, and Parke H. Davis, and as a co-national champion by the Berryman QPRS system, National Championship Foundation, and Jeff Sagarin (using the ELO-Chess methodology).Guard Jim McMillen and halfback Red Grange were consensus All-Americans. McMillen was also the team captain.1924 Big Ten Conference football season
The 1924 Big Ten Conference football season was the 29th season of college football played by the member schools of the Big Ten Conference (also known as the Western Conference) and was a part of the 1924 college football season.
The Big Ten Conference champion for 1924 was Chicago which, in Amos Alonzo Stagg's 33rd year as head coach, compiled a 4–1–3 record (3–0–3 against Big Ten opponents) and outscored their opponents by a combined total of 88 to 40. Notable players on the 1924 Chicago team included guard Joe Pondelik and tackle Frank Gowdy. Pondelik was a consensus first-team All-American in 1924. Gowdy was selected as a first-team All-American by several selectors, including Football World, Liberty magazine, and All-Sports Magazine.Red Grange of Illinois received the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the most valuable player in the conference.1924 College Football All-America Team
The 1924 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations and writers that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1924. The six selectors recognized by the NCAA as "official" for the 1924 season are (1) Walter Camp, whose selections were published in Collier's Weekly, (2) Football World magazine (FW), (3) the All-America Board (AAB), (4) the International News Service (INS), (5) Liberty magazine, and (6) the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA).
The only unanimous All-American in 1924 was halfback Red Grange of Illinois, known as "The Galloping Ghost" and who in 2008 was named by ESPN as the best college football player of all time. The consensus All-Americans recognized by the NCAA for 1924 also include tackle Ed Weir, who was later named the 19th best athlete in Nebraska history, and three of Notre Dame's legendary Four Horseman (halfback Jim Crowley, quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, and fullback Elmer Layden).1924 Illinois Fighting Illini football team
The 1924 Illinois Fighting Illini football team represented the University of Illinois in the 1924 Big Ten Conference football season. The Fighting Illini compiled a 6–1–1 record (3–1–1 against Western Conference opponents) and outscored their opponents by a combined total of 204 to 71. This was the junior season for hall-of-fame All-American halfback Harold "Red" Grange. End/tackle Frank E. Rokusek was the team captain.1924 Michigan Wolverines football team
The 1924 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1924 Big Ten Conference football season. Coached by George Little in his first and only year as Michigan's head football coach, the team compiled a record of 6-2, outscored opponents 155–54, and finished in fourth place in the Big Ten Conference standings.
After starting the season with shutouts against Miami (55–0) and Michigan Agricultural (7–0), Michigan lost to Illinois (39–14), as Red Grange scored five touchdowns and gained 402 yards. After the loss to Illinois, Michigan rebounded with four consecutive victories over Big Ten opponents, before losing to Iowa in the final game of the season. In all eight games during the 1924 season, the Wolverines played before 340,000 spectators, reported to be "possibly a 1924 attendance record equaled by only Yale."Halfback Herb Steger was the team captain, and left tackle Edliff Slaughter was selected as a first-team All-American. With 77 points, quarterback Tod Rockwell scored almost half of Michigan's 155 points and was the second-leading scorer in the Big Ten Conference, trailing Red Grange by one point. College Football Hall of Fame inductee Benny Friedman also made his debut as a starter for Michigan, playing at the halfback position in 1924.1925 College Football All-America Team
The 1925 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations and writers that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1925.
Walter Camp died in March 1925, marking the end of his "official" All-American selections for Collier's Weekly. The wire services and others moved in to fill the void in 1925, with both the United Press and Associated Press offering their own All-American teams for the first time. The eight selectors recognized by the NCAA as "official" for the 1925 season are (1) the All-America Board (AAB), (2) the Associated Press (AP), (3) Collier's Weekly, with Grantland Rice replacing Camp as the selector, (4) Football World magazine, (5) the International News Service (INS), (6) Liberty magazine, (7) the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), and (8) the United Press (UP).
The only two unanimous All-Americans in 1925 were tackle Ed Weir of Nebraska and halfback Andy Oberlander of Dartmouth. Red Grange of Illinois and Bennie Oosterbaan of Michigan each received first-team designations from seven of the eight official selectors.1925 Illinois Fighting Illini football team
The 1925 Illinois Fighting Illini football team was an American football team that represented the University of Illinois during the 1925 Big Ten Conference football season. In their 13th season under head coach Robert Zuppke, the Illini compiled a 5–3 record and finished in a tie for fifth place in the Big Ten Conference. This was the final season for hall-of-fame All-American halfback Harold "Red" Grange. Grange was also the team captain.1933 All-Pro Team
The 1933 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 1933 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the NFL coaches (NFL), the United Press, Red Grange for Collyer's Eye (CE), and the Green Bay Press-Gazette (GB).A Racing Romeo
A Racing Romeo is a 1927 American comedy film directed by Sam Wood and written by Byron Morgan. The film stars Red Grange, Jobyna Ralston, Trixie Friganza, Walter Hiers, Ben Hendricks Jr. and Warren Rogers. The film was released on September 1, 1927, by Film Booking Offices of America.American Football League (1926)
The first American Football League (AFL), sometimes called AFL I, AFLG, or the Grange League, was a professional American football league that operated in 1926. It was the first major competitor to the National Football League (NFL). Founded by Charles "C.C." Pyle, (1882–1939), and General Charles X. Zimmerman, (1865–1926), as Vice President and starring Hall of Fame halfback Harold Edward "Red" Grange, (1903–1991), the short-lived league with nine teams competed against the more established - then six year old NFL, both for players and for fans. While Pyle’s and Grange’s New York Yankees team and the already established Philadelphia Quakers became reliable draws, the lack of star power and the uncertain financial conditions of the other seven teams led to the league’s dissolution after one season.Chicago Tribune Silver Football
The Chicago Tribune Silver Football is awarded by the Chicago Tribune to the college football player determined to be the best player from the Big Ten Conference. The award has been presented annually since 1924, when Red Grange of Illinois was the award's first recipient.The winner of the Silver Football is determined by a vote of Big Ten head football coaches. Each coach submits a two-player ballot with a first and second choice, and coaches cannot vote for players on their own team. The first-place vote receives two points and the second-place vote receives one point.Coaches and media of the Big Ten also make annual selections for additional individual honors.Illinois Fighting Illini football statistical leaders
The Illinois Fighting Illini football statistical leaders are individual statistical leaders of the Illinois Fighting Illini football program in various categories, including passing, rushing, receiving, total offense, defensive stats, and kicking. Within those areas, the lists identify single-game, single-season, and career leaders. The Fighting Illini represent the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in the NCAA's Big Ten Conference.
Although Illinois began competing in intercollegiate football in 1890, the school's official record book generally does not include statistics from before the 1950s, as records from before this year are often incomplete and inconsistent. An exception to this is Red Grange, who appears several times on these lists despite playing in the 1920s.
These lists are dominated by more recent players for several reasons:
Since the 1950s, seasons have increased from 10 games to 11 and then 12 games in length.
The NCAA didn't allow freshmen to play varsity football until 1972 (with the exception of the World War II years), allowing players to have four-year careers.
Bowl games only began counting toward single-season and career statistics in 2002. The Fighting Illini have played in 4 bowl games since then, all since 2008, giving recent players an extra game to accumulate statistics.These lists are updated through the end of the 2016 season.Joey Sternaman
Joseph Theodore Sternaman (February 1, 1900 – March 10, 1988) was a professional American football player, born in Springfield, Illinois, who played quarterback for nine seasons for the Chicago Bears and Duluth Kelleys. At 5'6" and 135 pounds he was called "the strongest little man I ever met" by sportswriter Grantland Rice. He played quarterback during the years Red Grange starred with the Bears. In 1926, he was the quarterback, head coach, and owner of the Chicago Bulls of the first American Football League. Joey was also the brother of Chicago Bears co-owner Dutch Sternaman.List of NFL Championship Game broadcasters
The following is a list of the television networks and announcers that broadcast the National Football League Championship Game from the 1940s until the 1969 NFL season (after which the NFL merged with the American Football League). The National Football League first held a championship game in 1933, it took until 1948 before a championship game would be televised. The successor to the NFL Championship Game is the NFC Championship Game.New York Yankees (NFL)
The New York Yankees were a short-lived professional American football team from 1926 to 1928. The team was a member of the first American Football League in 1926, and later the National Football League from 1927 to 1929. They played their home games at Yankee Stadium. The team featured Red Grange at halfback.One Minute to Play
One Minute to Play is a 1926 American drama film directed by Sam Wood and written by Byron Morgan. The film stars Red Grange, Mary McAllister, Charles Stanton Ogle, George Wilson, Ben Hendricks Jr. and Lee Shumway. The film was released on September 12, 1926, by Film Booking Offices of America.The Galloping Ghost (serial)
The Galloping Ghost is a 1931 American pre-Code Mascot serial film directed by B. Reeves Eason and Benjamin H. Kline. The title is the nickname of the star, American football player Red Grange.Tim Lowry
Timothy G. Lowry (August 4, 1905 – February 27, 1983) was an American football player and lawyer. He played center for the Northwestern University football team from 1923 to 1925. At the conclusion of the 1925 football season, he became the second person to receive the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the most valuable player in the Big Ten Conference. Red Grange was the first recipient of the trophy in 1924. After graduating from Northwestern, Lowry became a lawyer. He was also the secretary and treasurer of the Illinois Center Corporation at the time the Illinois Center. He was also an alderman in Evanston, Illinois. Lowry died in 1983 at age 77. He was survived by his wife, Virginia Lowry, a son and two daughters.
Boston Bulldogs (AFL)
Chicago Bulls (AFL)
Los Angeles Wildcats
Red Grange—championships, awards, and honors