Sid Luckman

Sidney Luckman (November 21, 1916 – July 5, 1998) was an American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) from 1939 through 1950. During his 12 seasons with the Bears he led them to four NFL championships (1940, 1941, 1943, and 1946).

Sportswriter Ira Berkow wrote that Luckman was "the first great T-formation quarterback", and he is considered the greatest long-range passer of his time.[1][2][3] He was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1943. Luckman was also a 3× NFL All-Star (1940–42), 5× First-team All-Pro (1941–44, 1947), Second-Team All-Pro (1946), 3× NFL passing yards leader (1943, 1945, and 1946), 3× NFL passing touchdowns leader (1943, 1945, and 1946), 3× NFL passer rating leader (1941, 1943, and 1946), named to the NFL 1940s All-Decade Team, had his Chicago Bears No. 42 retired, and tied the NFL record of 7 touchdown passes in a game.

Luckman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965, and in 1988 he was declared a joint winner of the Walter Camp Distinguished American Award.[4][5] Following his retirement from playing, Luckman continued his association with football by tutoring college coaches, focusing on the passing aspect of the game.

Sid Luckman
refer to caption
Luckman with the Chicago Bears
No. 42
Personal information
Born:November 21, 1916
Brooklyn, New York
Died:July 5, 1998 (aged 81)
Aventura, Florida
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:197 lb (89 kg)
Career information
High school:Erasmus Hall
(Brooklyn, New York)
NFL Draft:1939 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Passing yards:14,686
Passer rating:75.0
Punting average:38.6
Player stats at
Sid Luckman
AllegianceUnited States United States
Service/branchUsmm-seal.png U.S. Merchant Marine
Years of service1943–1946
RankUS-O1 insignia.svg Ensign
Battles/warsWorld War II

Early life

Luckman was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish immigrants from Germany, Meyer and Ethel Luckman, and was Jewish.[6] His father sparked his interest in football at age eight, by giving him a football to play with.[1] He and his parents lived first in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and then in a residence near Prospect Park in Flatbush, in Brooklyn, and it was here as a youngster that Sid first started throwing the football around.[7][8][9]

He played both baseball and football for Erasmus Hall High School, with his football skills impressing recruiters from about 40 colleges.[10] Playing quarterback, he led the Erasmus Hall High School football team to two all-city championships.[6]

Luckman chose Columbia University after meeting Lions coach Lou Little during a Columbia/Navy game at the university's Baker Field athletic facility.[11] Luckman was not admitted to Columbia College; instead, he attended the New College for the Education of Teachers, an undergraduate school, which was within Teachers College at Columbia. He competed on the football team from 1936 until the New College closed in 1939, at which point he transferred to Columbia College.[12] Coach Little had a problem getting good high school athletes because of the entrance requirements at Columbia, and Columbia didn’t have any physical education undergraduate program, and so, when New College was started Lou Little was happy because they had a P. E. Department. In fact, the 1936 varsity football squad had five other New College students; Hubert Schulze, Edward Stanzyk, Oscar Bonom, Harry Ream, and Antoni Mareski.[13]

At Columbia Luckman was a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. Keen to remain in Columbia to stay close to his family, he took on jobs such as dish-washing, baby-sitting, and messenger delivery around the campus.[9] At Columbia, as a part of the football team, he completed 180 of 376 passes for 2,413 yards and 20 touchdowns and finished third in the 1938 Heisman Trophy voting, behind Davey O'Brien and Marshall Goldberg.[11]

Chicago Bears


Hearing of Sid Luckman's exploits as a single-wing tailback at Columbia University, Chicago Bears owner and coach George Halas believed Luckman had the ability to become an effective T-formation quarterback, and traveled to New York to watch him play. Halas then convinced the Pittsburgh Pirates (later the Steelers) to draft Luckman second overall and then trade him to the Bears, because he was interested in using Luckman's skills to help him restructure the offensive side of the game.[14] However, despite his successes at Columbia University, Luckman initially declined any further interest in pro football, instead preferring to work for his father-in-law's trucking company.[15] Halas went to work on convincing him otherwise.[14][15] After gaining an invitation to Luckman's tiny apartment for a dinner which Luckman's wife Estelle prepared, Halas produced a contract for $5,500 ($97,900 today), which Luckman immediately signed.[10] At that time both at the college and pro levels, offenses were a drab scrum of running the ball with only occasional passes. In what was then the predominant single-wing formation, the quarterback was primarily a blocking back and rarely touched the ball. Most passing was done by the tailback, and then usually only on third down with long yardage to go. Halas and his coaches, primarily Clark Shaughnessy, invented a rather complex scheme building on the traditional T-formation, but needed the right quarterback to run it properly.[16]

Upon starting with Halas, Luckman mastered an offense that revolutionized football, and became the basis of most modern professional offenses.[17] Eventually, Luckman tutored college coaches across the Big Ten, Notre Dame and West Point in the intricacies of the passing game.[3]


T Formation
A common type of T-Formation

In 1940, during his second season with the Bears, Luckman took over the offense and led the Bears to the title game against Sammy Baugh and the Washington Redskins. The Redskins had beaten the Bears, 7–3, during the regular season. Using the "man-in-motion" innovation to great advantage, the Bears destroyed the Redskins, 73–0, stated to be "the most one-sided game in the history of the sport".[18] Luckman passed only six times, with four completions and 102 yards in the rout.

From 1940 to 1946, the Bears displayed their dominance in the game, playing in five NFL championship games, winning four, and posted a 54–17–3 regular season record. In 1942, the Bears posted a perfect 11–0 record and outscored their opponents, 376–84, however they lost the championship game to the Redskins.[19] Although the T-formation had been used many years before Luckman joined the Chicago Bears, he was central to Chicago's successful use of this style of play because of his game-sense and versatility.[10] Perfecting Halas' complex offensive scheme of fakes, men in motion, and quick hitting runs, Luckman added the dimension of accurate downfield throwing. He was instrumental in his team's record-setting 73–0 win over the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL championship game. Sportscaster Jimmy Cannon once said in reference to Luckman's years at Columbia, "You had to be there to realize how great Sid was."[11] Luckman later became a sought-after tutor and instructor for universities wishing to install the T-formation as an offense.[11]

Service with the Merchant Marine

In 1943, as soon as the season had ended, Luckman volunteered as an ensign with the U. S. Merchant Marine. He was stationed stateside and while he could not practice with the team, he did receive permission to play for the Bears on game days during the following seasons. He returned again to the Bears, as a full-time occupation, in 1946 and led them to a fifth NFL championship.[3]

Numbers and accomplishments

During his career, Luckman completed 51.8% of his passes for 14,686 yards[20] and 137 touchdowns with 132 interceptions.[21] He averaged 8.4 yards per attempt,[21] second all-time only to Otto Graham (9.0), and also has a career touchdown rate (percentage of pass attempts that result in touchdowns) of 7.9 percent.[21]

In 1943, Luckman completed 110 of 202 passes for 2194 yards and 28 touchdowns.[21] His 13.9% touchdown rate that year is the best ever in a single-season, while his 10.9 yards per attempt is second all-time. During one game that year, Luckman threw for 443 yards and seven touchdowns, still tied for the most passing touchdowns in one game; it was also the first 400-yard passing game in NFL history. His 28 touchdown passes in 1943 (in only 10 games) was a record that lasted until 1959, a 12-game season.

Luckman led the NFL in yards per attempt an NFL record seven times, including a record five consecutive years from 1939 to 1943, and led the NFL in passing yards three times. Luckman was a five-time All-NFL selection, was named the National Football League's Most Valuable Player Award in 1943, and led the "Monsters of the Midway" to championships in 1940, 1941, 1943, and 1946. Despite the fact that his career ended in 1950, Luckman still owns several Bears' passing records,[11] including:

  • Intercepted: career (132), season (31 in 1947)
  • Yds/Pass Att: career (8.42), season (10.86 in 1943)

NFL career statistics

Led the league
NFL record
Bold Career high
Year Team G Comp Att Pct Yds Y/A TD Int TD% Rtg
1939 CHI 11 23 51 45.1 636 12.5 5 4 9.8 91.6
1940 CHI 11 48 105 45.7 941 9.0 4 9 3.8 54.5
1941 CHI 11 68 119 57.1 1,181 9.9 9 6 7.6 95.3
1942 CHI 11 57 105 54.3 1,023 9.7 10 13 9.5 80.1
1943 CHI 10 110 202 54.5 2,194 10.9 28 12 13.9 107.5
1944 CHI 7 71 143 49.7 1,018 7.1 11 12 7.7 63.8
1945 CHI 10 117 217 53.9 1,727 8.0 14 10 6.5 82.5
1946 CHI 11 110 229 48.0 1,826 8.0 17 16 7.4 71.0
1947 CHI 12 176 323 54.5 2,712 8.4 24 31 7.4 67.7
1948 CHI 12 89 163 54.6 1,047 6.4 13 14 8.0 65.1
1949 CHI 11 22 50 44.0 200 4.0 1 3 2.0 37.1
1950 CHI 11 13 37 35.1 180 4.9 1 2 2.7 38.1
Total 128 904 1,744 51.8 14,685 8.4 137 132 7.9 75.0


Later years

After retiring from the NFL, Luckman went to work for Cel-U-Craft, a Chicago-based manufacturer of cellophane products, eventually becoming its president.[1] The company was a part of the Rapid American Corporation of which he also obtained shares.[22] In 1969, RAC was the subject of an IRS investigation over the payment of these shares and dividends, a case that Luckman and his wife appealed.[22]

Luckman's wife, Estelle Morgolin, died of cancer in 1981, and he underwent a triple heart bypass operation the following year. Luckman eventually retired to Aventura, Florida where he died on July 5, 1998 at the age of 81. He is survived by a son, Bob, and two daughters, Gale and Ellen.[10][23]

List of honors

  1. Joe F. Carr Trophy – National Football League Most Valuable Player in 1943.
  2. College Football Hall of Fame in 1960.
  3. Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.
  4. International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.[24]
  5. Walter Camp Distinguished American of the Year Award in 1988.
  6. Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Sid Luckman – A great leader and football brain, p. 189. Great Jews in Sports. June 6, 2004. Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  2. ^ "Luckman, Sid". Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c "Sid Luckman, Legendary Quarterback". The American Jewish Historical Society. Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  4. ^ "Sid Luckman". NFL Internet Network. Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  5. ^ "Walter Camp Football Foundation Awards". Walter Camp Football Foundation Awards Inc. Archived from the original on June 9, 2008. Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  6. ^ a b "This Day in Jewish History / The reluctant quarterback who changed football forever is born," Haaretz.
  7. ^ The National Forgotten League: Entertaining Stories and Observations from ... - Dan Daly
  8. ^ "Sid Luckman, Star for the Bears, Dies at 81" - The New York Times
  9. ^ a b "Jews in American Sports, page 264". Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d Wallace, William N. (July 6, 1998). "Sid Luckman, Star for the Bears, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  11. ^ a b c d e "C250 celebrates Columbians ahead of their time". Columbia University. Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  12. ^ George W. Lucero (2012). The Cultured and Competent Teacher, the Story of New College, manuscript/dissertation, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois,
  13. ^ "Varsity Football Squad has Six N.C. Students", New College Outlook (III) 1 (September 24, 1936):1.
  14. ^ a b Slater, Robert, 2003, p. 189.
  15. ^ a b c "Sid Luckman". Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  16. ^ Slater, Robert, 2003, p. 189–190.
  17. ^ Slater, Robert, 2003, p. 190.
  18. ^ "Luckman, Sid, p. 274". Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  19. ^ The Bears were denied perfect seasons on two accounts. The first one was in the 1934 when the 13–0 club lost to the New York Giants in the Championship game. The second occurrence happened in 1942 when the 11–0 club was denied perfection and a "three-peat" by the Washington Redskins. See Chicago Bears seasons for full list
  20. ^ Mayer, Larry (October 23, 2012). "Tillman contains Lions star receiver". Chicago Bears. Retrieved October 23, 2012.
  21. ^ a b c d e "Sid Luckman". Retrieved August 20, 2008.
  22. ^ a b "Seventh Circuit – Sid Luckman and Estelle Luckman, Petitioners-Appellants v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Respondent-Appellee". VLEX. Retrieved June 9, 2008.
  23. ^ "Sid Luckman". Notable Names Database. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  24. ^ Sid Luckman

Further reading

  • Slater, Robert, 2003 Great Jews in Sports. Jonathan David Publishers Inc ISBN 978-0-8246-0453-0

External links

1940 Chicago Bears season

The 1940 Chicago Bears season was their 21st regular season and 5th postseason completed in the National Football League. The club posted an 8–3 record under head coach George Halas. Behind NFL greats Sid Luckman and Bronko Nagurski, the club gained a berth in the NFL Championship. There the club stormed the Washington Redskins under the brand new formation known as the T formation to claim their fourth league title.

1942 NFL Championship Game

The 1942 National Football League Championship Game was the tenth title game of the National Football League (NFL), played at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. on December 13, with a sellout capacity attendance of 36,006.It matched the undefeated Western Division champion Chicago Bears (11–0) and the Eastern Division champion Washington Redskins (10–1). The Bears

were co-coached by Hunk Anderson and Luke Johnsos (after George Halas had entered the U.S. Navy) and led on the field by quarterback Sid Luckman. The Redskins were led by head coach Ray Flaherty and quarterback Sammy Baugh.

Chicago had won easily in the summer exhibition game with Washington, but the teams had not met during the 1942 regular season. The Bears were aiming for their third consecutive league title and were favored by three touchdowns, but were upset 14–6 by the home underdog Redskins.Tickets were sold out three weeks in advance, and some were being resold for up to fifty dollars.This was the second and final NFL title game played at Griffith Stadium and in the city of Washington. The two teams met on the same site two years earlier with a far different result, as the visiting Bears won in a 73–0 rout.

1943 Chicago Bears season

The 1943 Chicago Bears season was their 24th regular season and 8th postseason in the National Football League. The club posted an 8–1–1 record under temporary co-coaches Hunk Anderson and Luke Johnsos. On the way to winning the Western Division, the Bears were, yet again, denied a chance at an undefeated season by the defending champion Redskins in Washington. The Bears had their revenge in the NFL title game and defeated the Redskins at Wrigley Field to claim their sixth league title. It was their third championship in four years, establishing themselves as the pro football dynasty of the early 1940s.

1943 NFL Championship Game

The 1943 National Football League Championship Game was the 11th annual title game of the National Football League (NFL), held at Wrigley Field in Chicago on December 26 with an attendance of 34,320.In a rematch of the previous year's game, the Western Division champion Chicago Bears (8–1–1) met the Eastern Division champion Washington Redskins (6–3–1).

The previous week, the Redskins had defeated the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds in a playoff game by a score of 28–0 to determine the champs of the east, after the teams ended the regular season with identical records. The Redskins had dropped their final three regular season games, including two to the Giants. Even though the Giants had swept the season series with Washington, the rules of the time called for a tiebreaker game.

The divisional playoff game pushed the championship game back to its latest ever date, and the late-December Chicago weather caused the game to be dubbed the "Ice Bowl." The Bears were favored by a touchdown, and won by twenty points, 41–21.The crowd was smaller than the previous year's and well off the championship game record of 48,120 set in 1938, but the gross gate receipts of $120,500 set a record. In addition to the gate, radio broadcast rights to the game were sold for $5,000.The Bears were led by quarterback Sid Luckman while Sammy Baugh was the quarterback for the Redskins. The Redskins were coached by Dutch Bergman.

The Chicago win marked the franchise's third championship in four seasons, their fourth since the institution of the NFL Championship Game in 1933, and their sixth championship overall.

1946 Chicago Bears season

The 1946 Chicago Bears season was their 27th regular season and ninth postseason appearance in the National Football League.

The club posted an 8–2–1 record under head coach George Halas making his return from World War II en route to a Western Division title and an appearance in the NFL Championship Game. In the title game, the Bears defeated the New York Giants for their seventh league title and their fourth of the decade.

Charles Goldenberg

Charles R. "Buckets" Goldenberg (April 15, 1911, in Odessa, Ukraine, Russian Empire – April 16, 1986, in Glendale, Wisconsin) was an All-Pro National Football League (NFL) American football player. He is often credited as the originator of the draw play by forcing Sid Luckman to hand off with his blitzing.

Chicago Bears statistics

This page details statistics about the Chicago Bears American 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.

Columbia Lions football

The Columbia Lions football program is the intercollegiate American football team for Columbia University. The team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and are members of the Ivy League. The Columbia football team is the third oldest college football program in the United States: Columbia played Rutgers University in the fourth college football game, on November 12, 1870, in New Jersey. It was the first interstate football game. The first three college football games were played between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869 and 1870. Columbia plays its home games at the 17,000-seat Wien Stadium in Inwood, Manhattan, the northern-most neighborhood on Manhattan island.

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 starting quarterbacks

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

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 NFL quarterbacks with seven touchdown passes in a game

In the National Football League (NFL), eight quarterbacks share the record of having thrown seven touchdown passes in a single game. Sid Luckman was the first player to accomplish the feat, doing so on November 14, 1943, while playing for the Chicago Bears. The most recent seven-touchdown game occurred on November 1, 2015, when Drew Brees did so with the New Orleans Saints. During that game the two teams' quarterbacks combined for 13 passing touchdowns, setting another NFL record. Three quarterbacks on the list are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Luckman, George Blanda, and Y. A. Tittle. There was a 44-year gap between seven-touchdown games from Joe Kapp's in 1969 until 2013, when Peyton Manning and Nick Foles each did so just two months apart. Manning also holds the NFL records for touchdown passes in a season and in a career, with 55 and 539, respectively.

List of National Football League annual passing touchdowns leaders

This is a list of National Football League quarterbacks who have led the regular season in passing touchdowns each year. The record for touchdown passes in a season is held by Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos who threw 55 in 2013. Six quarterbacks have led the NFL in passing touchdowns in four different seasons (Johnny Unitas, Steve Young, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady), and one player (Len Dawson) achieved the same feat in the American Football League, the AFL.

List of National Football League quarterback playoff records

For playoff quarterback touchdown record see List of National Football League playoffs career passing touchdowns leaders.

The first official National Football League (NFL) playoff game was the 1933 NFL Championship Game between the Chicago Bears and New York Giants. A "playoff" game was played in 1932 between the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans to break a regular season tie, but is recorded in the team record books as a regular season game. Since then there have been a total over 525 NFL playoff games including games from the AFL, but not the AAFC. The following list shows career postseason records for each starting quarterback in the NFL playoffs.

Wins or losses are credited to the quarterback who started the game for each team, even if he was injured or failed to complete the game.

Note: from 1933–1949 some offenses did not employ a quarterback in the modern sense of the position. Listed below are the "primary passers" for those games, the players that passed the ball most in those games. They may not have actually started the game at quarterback. This format allows Hall of Fame quarterbacks like Sid Luckman and Sammy Baugh to maintain credit for their team's playoff records since they were obviously the top passer for their team. The players involved in such games are marked with an asterisk (*).

Rudy Smeja

Rudolph M. Smeja (December 1, 1920 – October 1982) was an American football player. Smeja played at the end position for the University of Michigan from 1941 to 1943. In November 1943, Smeja intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter in a 23–6 win over the Indiana Hoosiers. At the end of the 1943 season, Smeja was selected as the starting left end for the Eastern All-Star team to play in the East-West Shrine Game in San Francisco on New Year's Day 1944. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round (24th overall pick) of the 1944 NFL Draft and played 18 games for the Bears in the 1944 and 1945 NFL seasons. In the last game of the 1944 season, Smeja leaped high to spear a touchdown pass from Sid Luckman to help the Bears beat the previously unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles. In 1946, Smeja played for the Philadelphia Eagles. Smeja died in 1982 at age 61.

Russ Reader

Russell "Big Daddy" Reader Jr. (June 26, 1923 – August 12, 1995) was an American football player. Reader was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan and graduated from Dearborn High School in Dearborn, Michigan. After graduating from Dearborn High School, Reader enrolled at the University of Michigan where he was a member of Fritz Crisler's 1941 Michigan Wolverines football team. After World War II, Reader enrolled at Michigan State University and played at the halfback position for the Spartans football team in 1946 and 1947. Reader was considered a triple-threat player, as he handled rushing, passing and kicking duties for the Spartans. In November 1945, he led the Spartans to a 33–0 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions, as he threw two touchdown passes and also caught a touchdown pass. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 21st round (195th overall pick) in the 1947 NFL Draft. Simkus played in two games for the Bears in the 1947 NFL season, and began the 1948 season with the Bears as an understudy for Sid Luckman at the quarterback position. He was also a renowned swimmer and diver. He started the 1949 season with the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League and finished the season playing for the Windsor Bulldogs in the Canadian American Football League. Reader died in 1995 at age 72 while living in Milford, Michigan.

T formation

In American football, a T formation (frequently called the full house formation in modern usage, sometimes the Robust T) is a formation used by the offensive team in which three running backs line up in a row about five yards behind the quarterback, forming the shape of a "T".Numerous variations of the T formation have been developed, including the Power-T, where two tight ends are used, the Pro T, which uses one tight end and one wide receiver, or the Wing T, where one of the running backs (or wingback) lines up one step behind and to the side of the tight end.

Any of these can be run using the original spacing, which produced a front of about seven yards, or the Split-T spacing, where the linemen were farther apart and the total length of the line was from 10 to 16 yards.

The Wizard (Seinfeld)

"The Wizard" is the 171st episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the 15th episode for the ninth and final season. It aired on February 26, 1998.

Sid Luckman—awards, championships, and honors

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