Tuffy Leemans

Alphonse Emil "Tuffy" Leemans (November 12, 1912 – January 19, 1979) was an American football fullback and halfback who played on both offense and defense. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978 and was named in 1969 to the NFL 1930s All-Decade Team.

A native of Superior, Wisconsin, Leemans played college football for Oregon's freshman team in 1932 and for George Washington from 1933 to 1935. He was drafted by the New York Giants in the second round of the 1936 NFL Draft and played eight years for the Giants from 1936 to 1943. He led the National Football League as a rookie with 830 rushing yards and was selected as a first-team All-Pro in 1936 and 1939. He was also selected to play in the Pro Bowl in 1938 and 1941 and helped lead the Giants to the 1938 NFL Championship and the 1939 and 1941 NFL Championship Games.

After his playing career ended, Leemans worked briefly as a backfield coach for the Giants and at George Washington. He also operated a laundry and dry cleaning business and a duckpins bowling alley.

Tuffy Leemans
Tuffy leemans in game
Leemans in 1939.
Position:Fullback, halfback
Personal information
Born:November 12, 1912
Superior, Wisconsin
Died:January 19, 1979 (aged 66)
Hillsboro Beach, Florida
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:195 lb (88 kg)
Career information
High school:Superior (WI) Central
College:George Washington
NFL Draft:1936 / Round: 2 / Pick: 18
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Player stats at PFR

Early years

Leemans was born in 1912 in Superior, Wisconsin.[1] His father Joseph Leemans (1887-1979) immigrated from Belgium in 1909 and worked as hoister for the Pittsburg Coal Co. on the coal dock in Superior.[2][3] His mother Hortense (1897-1964) was born in Illinois, the daughter of Belgian immigrants. Leemans had three younger sisters Carolyn, Dorothy, and Doris.[2]

Leemans attended Central High School in Superior.[1] In his 1979 speech upon being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Leemans recalled growing up in Superior: "I was a kid who used to work the iron ore boats on vacation from high school. I also worked as a fireman shoveling coal. But I was of hardy, Belgian stock and that early hard work helped me as a football player. I have achieved everything I ever wanted. I am a happy man."[4]

Football career

College

In 1932, Leemans enrolled at the University of Oregon where he was a member of the freshman football team.[5] He then transferred to George Washington University where he was the star of the George Washington Colonials football team from 1933 to 1935. In his three years at George Washington, he rushed for 2,382 yards on 490 carries for an average of 4.86 yards per carry. He also passed for 966 yards and returned 84 punts for 984 yards, an average of 11.7 yards per return.[6]

New York Giants

Leemans was drafted by the New York Giants in the second round (18th overall pick) of the 1936 NFL Draft.[1] Wellington Mara, son of Giants owner Tim Mara, saw Leemans play for George Washington and recommended to his father that the Giants sign him. Mara later said, "If I'm remembered for nothing else, I'd like to be remembered for discovering Tuffy Leemans."[7]

In his first NFL season, Leemans played at the fullback position for the Giants and led the NFL with 830 rushing yards and an average of 69.2 rushing yards per game.[1][8] He also impressed with his defensive play at the safety position.[9] He was the only rookie to be honored by the NFL as a first-team player on the 1936 All-Pro Team.[1][10] After the season ended, Leemans reported that he found it easier to make long gains in the NFL rather than college, crediting better blocking in the professional ranks.[11]

Following rumors that he intended to retire from professional football after one season, Leemans signed a contract in August 1937 to return to the Giants.[9] During the 1937, Leemans did not have the same level of success as in 1937. Hank Soar took over as the Giants' leading rusher in 1937, and Leemans gained only 429 rushing yards, roughly half his total from the prior year.[12] Despite the reduced offensive output, Leemans continued to garner credit for his overall play and was selected by the NFL and the New York Daily News as a second-team player on the 1937 All-Pro Team.[1]

Leemans also played professional basketball during the off-season, joining the Heurich Brewers in Washington, D.C., after the 1937 NFL season.[13]

Leemans continued to be one of the NFL's leading players, receiving either first- or second-team All-Pro honors every year from 1936 through 1942. He received first-team honors in 1936 and 1939 and second-team honors in each of the remaining years.[1] He was also selected to play in the Pro Bowl in 1938 and 1941.[1] He ranked second in the NFL in rushing yardage in 1938 with 463 yards and third in 1940 with 474 yards.[1] He also helped lead the Giants to the 1938 NFL Championship as well as the 1939 and 1941 NFL Championship Games.

On December 7, 1941, the Giants celebrated "Tuffy Leemans Day," presenting him with a silver tray and $1,500 in defense bonds.[14] The radio broadcast of the game on WOR was interrupted with an announcement of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,[15] and an urgent announcement was made at the Polo Grounds asking William J. Donovan (wartime head of the Office of Strategic Services) to call Operator 19 in Washington.[14] However, most of the spectators and players at the Polo Grounds remained unaware of the attack until after the game.[15] Leemans' attempts to enlist in the Navy and Army during World War II were rejected on multiple occasions due to defective hearing in one ear caused by a concussion sustained in a football game as well as poor eyesight.[16]

Leemans retired from football after the 1942 season.[17] He signed on as a backfield coach with the Giants in 1943, but shortly before the season started, he opted to return as a player for one final year.[18] He appeared in 10 games during the 1943 season, only one as a starter.[1] He retired again after the 1943 season.

Leemans appeared in 80 NFL games with the Giants from 1936 to 1943. He totaled 3,132 rushing yards on 919 carries (3.4 yards per carry) and 17 rushing touchdowns, 2,318 passing yards and 25 passing touchdowns, 422 receiving yards on 28 receptions, and 339 yards on punt and kickoff returns.[1] Leemans also played on defense. Alex Wojciechowicz, a fellow Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who played against Leemans, recalled: "Leemans was probably greater on defense than he was on offense. He was a bugger on defense, all over the field, always in on the action."[19]

Coaching

After his playing career ended, Leemans continued for one year as the Giants' backfield coach in 1944.[20] However, he retired from coaching in August 1945 to devote his time to his laundry business.[21]

He returned to coaching in 1946 as the part-time backfield coach for the George Washington Colonials while continuing to operate his laundry and dry cleaning business.[22]

Leemans also coached football at St. John's College High School and Archbishop Caroll High School, both in Washington, D. C.[4]

Later years and honors

In June 1937, after his great rookie season, Leemans married Theodora Rinaldi at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.[23] They remained married for 41 years (until Leemans' death) had two children, Joseph, who died in 1977, and Diane.[4]

Leemans and his wife lived in Silver Spring, Maryland. Leemans operated a duckpin bowling alley known as Tuffy Leemans' Glenmont Lanes.[24] He also operated a laundry and dry cleaning business in the Washington, D. C., and Silver Spring dating back to and following his years as a football player.[25][16][26] He was also active in the Washington D.C. Touchdown Club and was elected as the organization's president in 1956.[27]

In 1969, Leemans was selected as one of the backs on the NFL 1930s All-Decade Team.[28]

In 1978, Leemans was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At the induction ceremony, he was introduced by his high school football coach Peter Guzy. In his speech, Leemans mentioned two of his teammates, Mel Hein, the Hall of Fame center, and Leland Shaffer, who Leemans credited as "my top blocker".[29]

Leemans' weight rose in his later years to 300 pounds from his playing weight of 180 pounds.[4] In January 1979, less than six months after his induction into the Hall of Fame, Leemans died from a heart attack at age 66 at his condominium in Hillsboro Beach, Florida.[30][4] He was interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring.[31]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Tuffy Leemans". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  2. ^ a b 1930 U.S. Census entry for Joseph Leemans and family. Son Alphonse age 17 born in Wisconsin. Census Place: Superior, Douglas, Wisconsin; Roll: 2570; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0042; FHL microfilm: 2342304. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line].
  3. ^ Draft Registration Card for Joseph Leemans dated June 5, 1917. Registration State: Wisconsin; Registration County: Douglas; Roll: 1674994; Draft Board: 2. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line].
  4. ^ a b c d e Bob Addie (January 20, 1979). "'Tuffy' Leemans Dies". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ The Oregana (University of Oregon yearbook), 1933, pp. 187, 254.
  6. ^ "Leemans Has Fine Record on Gridiron". The Hartford Daily Courant. December 20, 1935. p. 24 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Wellington Mara: A Giant" (PDF). The Coffin Corner. Pro Football Researchers. 1997. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  8. ^ "Herber Sets New Passing Records in Pro Football". Chicago Tribune. December 10, 1936. p. 26 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ a b "Leemans Signs Grid Contract". The Evening News. August 11, 1937. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Alphonse Leemans". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  11. ^ "Pro Football Not So Tough Says Leemans". Chicago Tribune. December 10, 1936. p. 26 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "1937 New York Giants Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  13. ^ "Leemans, Pro Gridder, Joins Brewers Quintet". Cumberland Sunday Times. December 12, 1937. p. 6 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ a b "Lazy Sunday turned into Day of Infamy". Longview News-Journal (from New York Times Service). December 7, 1980. p. 6 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ a b "Tuffy Leemans Day turned tragic in 1941". The Washington Times. December 5, 2005.
  16. ^ a b "Tuffy Leemans Is Rejected by Army". Journal and Courier. July 8, 1943. p. 19 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "Mel Hein, Leemans To Leave Pro Ranks". Arizona Republic. December 3, 1942. p. 14 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "Leemans to Play Again With Football Giants". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. October 8, 1943. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ "Leemans Put Giants on NFL Map". Asbury Park Press. January 24, 1979. p. C6 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ "Giants Appoint Assistant Coach". Arizona Republic. February 29, 1944. p. 9 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ "One-Minute Sport Page". Corsicana Daily Sun. August 22, 1945. p. 7 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ "Tuffy Leemans Chosen". The Cincinnati Enquirer. April 21, 1946. p. 26 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ ""Tuffy" Leemans Wed to Theodora Rinaldi". The Eau Claire Leader. June 13, 1937. p. 10 – via Newspapers.com.
  24. ^ "'Tuffy's Place' to close". The Gazette. July 31, 2002.
  25. ^ "Marshall, Leemans Rivals In Business". Cumberland Evening Times. December 18, 1939. p. 10 – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ "untitled". Press and Sun-Bulletin. February 21, 1948. p. 13.
  27. ^ "Tuffy Leemans Named Touchdown Club Prexy". Green Bay Press-Gazette. September 26, 1956. p. 23 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ "Hutson, Herber Head Selections For 1930s Team". Fremont (OH) News-Messenger. August 26, 1969. p. 11 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ "'Tuffy' Leemans Inducted Into Hall". Fort Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel. July 30, 1978. p. 8C.
  30. ^ "Tuffy Leemans Dies; Giants' Star Was 66". The New York Times. January 20, 1979.
  31. ^ "Alphonse "Tuffy" Leemans". Find-a-Grave.com. Retrieved October 3, 2017.

External links

1936 All-Pro Team

The 1936 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 1936 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the NFL coaches (NFL), the United Press (UP), Collyer's Eye (CE), and the Chicago Daily News (CDN).Four players were selected for the first team by all four selectors: Detroit Lions quarterback Dutch Clark; Boston Redskins halfback Cliff Battles; Chicago Bears end Bill Hewitt; and Green Bay Packers guard Lon Evans. Three others were selected for the first team by three selectors: Chicago Bears fullback Bronko Nagurski; Boston Redskins tackle Turk Edwards; and New York Giants center Mel Hein.

1936 NFL Draft

The 1936 National Football League Draft was the first draft of the National Football League (NFL). It took place on February 8, 1936, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The draft was instituted in an effort to end bidding wars among the league's teams by the arbitrary assignment of negotiating rights to amateur players. It was haphazardly decided that the last place team from the previous season would get the first selection, and the process would continue in reverse order of the standings. Under this structure the Philadelphia Eagles, who finished 1935 at 2–9, would select first.This was the only draft to have nine rounds; the number increased to ten for the 1937 draft. The first player ever drafted, Jay Berwanger, who had previously been awarded the initial Heisman Trophy, never played in the NFL. His rights were traded by the Philadelphia Eagles to the Chicago Bears, as the Eagles felt they would be unable to meet Berwanger's reported demand of $1000 per game. The Eagles received tackle Art Buss from the Bears in exchange for Berwanger's rights. George Halas was unable to convince Berwanger to sign with the Bears. Riley Smith, the second pick, was the first player drafted to play in the NFL.

1936 NFL season

The 1936 NFL season was the 17th regular season of the National Football League. For the first time since the league was founded, there were no team transactions; neither a club folded nor did a new one join the NFL. 1936 was also the first year in which all league teams played the same number of games. Since this season, the number of scheduled regular season games per team has been:

11 until 1942 and in 1946

10 from 1943 to 1945

12 from 1947 to 1960

14 from 1961 to 1977

16 since 1978The season ended when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Boston Redskins in the NFL Championship Game. For the only time in NFL history, the team with the home field advantage declined to play at their own stadium and instead elected to play at a neutral site. Due to poor attendance, the Redskins moved the game from Boston to the Polo Grounds in New York City.

1937 All-Pro Team

The 1937 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 1937 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the NFL coaches (NFL), the International News Service (INS), the United Press (UP), Collyer's Eye (CE), and the New York Daily News (NYDN).Four players were selected for the first team by all five selectors: Detroit Lions quarterback Dutch Clark; Green Bay Packers fullback Clarke Hinkle; Washington Redskins tackle Turk Edwards; and Chicago Bears guard George Musso. Three others were named to the first team by four selectors: Washington Redskins Sammy Baugh (NFL, INS, UP, NYDN; selected as a halfback); Chicago Cardinals end Gaynell Tinsley (NFL, UP, CE, NYDN); and Chicago Bears tackle Joe Stydahar (NFL, UP, CE, NYDN). Three more were selected by three selectors: Washington Redskins halfback Cliff Battles (NFL, INS, NYDN); Green Bay Packers end Don Hutson (INS, CE, NYDN); and New York Giants center Mel Hein (NFL, INS, NYDN).

1939 All-Pro Team

The 1939 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 1939 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the NFL coaches (NFL), Professional Football Writers Association (PFW), the United Press (UP), the International News Service (INS), Collyer's Eye (CE), and the New York Daily News (NYDN).Players displayed in bold were consensus first-team selections. Four players were selected for the first team by all six selectors: Chicago Bears fullback Bill Osmanski; Green Bay Packers end Don Hutson; Chicago Bears tackle Joe Stydahar; and Chicago Bears guard Dan Fortmann.

Arnold Galiffa

Arnold Anthony "Arnie" Galiffa (January 29, 1927 – September 5, 1978) was a quarterback for the National Football League and Canadian Football League. He won 11 varsity letters at West Point and served with distinction as an officer in the Korean War.

Ed Danowski

Edward Frank Danowski (September 30, 1911 – February 1, 1997) was an American football player who played quarterback and halfback in the National Football League (NFL). Danowski played for the New York Giants for seven seasons (1934–1939, 1941) and quarterbacked the team when they won the 1934 and 1938 NFL Championship Games. He played college football at Fordham University. He returned to Rose Hill as the head coach for the Rams from 1946 to 1954, amassing a record of 29–44–3 (.401). His 1949 squad reached #20 in the polls.He grew up in Aquebogue, his father, Anton, was a Polish immigrant. His son, John Danowski, is the head lacrosse coach at Duke University as well as the longtime coach of the Hofstra Pride, and his grandson, Matt Danowski, is second in Division I in total points in NCAA lacrosse history.

Eddie Miller (American football)

Edward Miller (February 17, 1916 – November 9, 2000) was an American football quarterback in the National Football League. He played for the New York Giants. He played college football for the New Mexico State Aggies.

Emery Nix

Kenneth Emery Nix (December 1, 1919 – December 6, 2005) was an American football quarterback in the National Football League. He played for the New York Giants. He played college football for the TCU Horned Frogs.

Jim Crocicchia

James Francis Crocicchia (born February 19, 1964) is a former professional American football quarterback in the National Football League. He was a replacement player with the New York Giants in 1987. In 1988, Crocicchia played for the New York Knights of the Arena Football League.

Jim Pixlee

James Ebenezzar "Possum Jim" Pixlee (March 29, 1889 – February 17, 1967) was an American football player and coach of football and basketball. He served as the head football coach at Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, now Oklahoma State University–Stillwater (1919–1920), Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri (1922–1928), and George Washington University (1929–1937), compiling a career college football record of 77–59–14. Pixlee was also the head basketball coach at Oklahoma A&M (1919–1921), Westminster (1922–1929), and George Washington (1930–1932), tallying a career college basketball mark of 90–50.

Pixlee attended the University of Missouri, where he lettered in football during the 1909, 1911, and 1912 seasons. He was head coach of the Oklahoma A&M Aggies for the 1919 and 1920 football seasons. During this period, the team won three of their 16 games. By 1929 Pixlee was director of athletics at Missouri's Westminster College.In 1929, Pixlee took over the head coaching position of the George Washington Colonials, starting with an 0–8 season. He went on to win more football games than any other coach in George Washington's history, leading the Colonials to records crowds and coaching Alphonse "Tuffy" Leemans, whom David Holt described as "perhaps GW's greatest athlete ever". Pixlee left that position in 1937.

He was married to Blossom Pixlee.

John Johnson (trainer)

John "Mr. J" Johnson (March 31, 1917 – February 28, 2016) was an American athletic trainer, formerly for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL).

He began working for the Giants in 1948, and retired in 2008, after the Giants won Super Bowl XLII. He worked on the sidelines for 874 regular season games and 34 post season games. In addition, he worked as an athletic trainer for Manhattan College. He died in New Jersey at the age of 98 in 2016.

Leemans

Leemans is a Dutch occupational surname derived from leenman, a feudal tenant or vassal. It is particularly common in Flanders. People with this surname include:

Anthonie Leemans (1631–1673), Dutch still life painter, brother of Johannes

Egide François Leemans (1839–1883). Belgian painter, draughtsman and engraver

Fernand Leemans (born 1925), Belgian figure skater

Jo Leemans (born 1927), Belgian singer

Johannes Leemans (1633–1688), Dutch still life painter and wine dealer, brother of Anthonie

Ken Leemans (born 1983), Belgian footballer

Marc Leemans (1961), Belgian trade unionist

Pieter Leemans (1897–1980), Belgian classical musician and composer

Tuffy Leemans (1912–1979), American football player

Victor Leemans (1901–1971), Belgian (Flemish) sociologist and politician

Ward Leemans (1926–1998), Belgian sociologist and politician

List of New York Giants starting quarterbacks

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

National Football League 1930s All-Decade Team

This is a list of all NFL players who had outstanding performances throughout the 1930s and have been compiled together into this fantasy group. The team was selected by voters of the Pro Football Hall of Fame retroactively in 1969 to mark the league’s 50th anniversary.

Tom Kennedy (American football)

Tom Kennedy (November 27, 1939 – March 15, 2006) was an American football quarterback. He played for the New York Giants in 1966.

Tony Sarausky

Anthony Olgrid Sarausky (April 7, 1913 – June 21, 1990) was an American football quarterback in the National Football League. He played for the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. He played college football for the Fordham Rams.

Travis Tidwell

Travis Vaughn Tidwell (February 5, 1929 – July 1, 2004) was an American football player and coach. Tidwell played high school football for Woodlawn High School. He played college football at Auburn University and then in the National Football League with the New York Giants. He was the Senior Bowl MVP in 1950. Tidwell led Auburn over a defeat of Alabama in 1949. Zipp Newman wrote "There has never been a sweeter Auburn victory in all the 58 years of football on the Plains than the Tigers 14-13 win over Alabama." Tidwell stood 5 foot 10 inches and weighed 185 pounds.

Tuffy

Tuffy is a given name or a family name.

Tuffy may refer to:

ArtsLil Tuffy, American rock poster artist and printmakerBusinessTuffys Australian brand for underwear

Tuffy Auto Service Centers, franchise of automotive service centersCharactersTuffy (Tom and Jerry), an alternative name of the character Nibbles from Tom and Jerry

Tuffy Smurf, a character from the comic book series, The SmurfsFirst name or nicknameTuffy Abell (1892–1956), American football player

Tuffy Conn (1892–1973), American football player

Tuffy Griffiths (1907–1968), American boxer

Tuffy Gosewisch (born 1983), American baseball player

Tuffy Knight (born 1936), Canadian football player

Tuffy Leemans (1912–1979), American football player

Tuffy Maul (1902–1974), American football player

Tuffy Rhodes (born 1968), American baseball player

Tuffy Stewart (1883–1934) was a Major League Baseball

Tuffy Stone, American chef and TV personality

Tuffy Thompson, American football playerFamily nameDan Tuffy, Australian-born musician, guitarist and vocalist

Joanna Tuffy (born 1965), Irish politicianSee alsoTuff (disambiguation)

Tuffy Leemans—championships, awards, and honors

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