Walt Kowalczyk

Walter Joseph Kowalczyk (April 17, 1935 – November 7, 2018) was an American football defensive back and fullback in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. He also played in the American Football League for the Oakland Raiders. He played college football at Michigan State University.

Walt Kowalczyk
No. 43, 35
Position:Fullback / Defensive back
Personal information
Born:April 17, 1935
Westfield, Massachusetts
Died:November 7, 2018 (aged 83)
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:208 lb (94 kg)
Career information
High school:Westfield (MA)
College:Michigan State
NFL Draft:1958 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:40
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Early years

Kowalczyk attended Westfield High School, where he earned four letters in football and baseball, three in basketball and two in track. In football and baseball he was named to the All-state team twice. He won the state 100-yard dash title twice. As a senior, he received the Harry Agganis Award as the best high school athlete in New England.[1]

He accepted a scholarship from Michigan State University, where he became a three-year starter at right halfback. As a sophomore, he was given the nickname "The Sprinting Blacksmith", after his efforts helped his team defeat UCLA in the 1956 Rose Bowl. He recorded 584 yards and 6 touchdowns in the season.

As a junior, he was limited with a serious ankle sprain he suffered during fall practice and only registered 128 yards and 2 touchdowns.

In 1957, he posted 545 rushing yards (5.4 yards average), 9 touchdowns (led the Big Ten Conference) and 7 receptions for 128 yards. He placed third in the Heisman Trophy voting, the highest place ever by a Michigan State player.[2] He finished his career with 1,257 rushing yards on 225 carries, 16 touchdowns, 10 receptions for 187 yards and one touchdown.

Professional career

Philadelphia Eagles

Kowalczyk was selected in the first round (6th overall) of the 1958 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a backup running back behind Clarence Peaks and Billy Ray Barnes. He also was a backup defensive back behind Tom Brookshier and Eddie Bell.

On July 24, 1960, he was traded to the Detroit Lions in exchange for Jerry Reichow.[3]

Dallas Cowboys

Kowalczyk spent six weeks with the Detroit Lions in training camp, before his rights were sold to the Dallas Cowboys. Although he initially refused to report to the team, he changed his mind after commissioner Pete Rozelle threatened to fine him.[4]

Although he was considered light for the position, he became the first starting fullback in franchise history (7 starts), while sharing playing time with Gene Babb (5 starts).[5] He finished with 50 carries for 156 yards (third on the team) and 14 receptions for 143 yards (fifth on the team). He was waived in on September 12, 1961.

Oakland Raiders

On September 19, 1961, he was signed as a free agent by the Oakland Raiders of the American Football League.[6] He retired after four games.

Personal life

Kowalczyk became a teacher at Michigan State University. He was a member of The Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C. National Intercollegiate All-American Football Players Honor Roll.

He lived in the Rochester, Michigan area, and spent his post-football years active in community activities (such as volunteering his time teaching Drivers Training classes). Kowalczyk died on November 7, 2018 at the age of 83.[7]


  1. ^ "Westfield High star Walt Kowalczyk to join Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  2. ^ "Teammates and the Heisman". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  3. ^ "Leading Everybody Happy with Lions Deal". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  4. ^ "MSU Backs To Join Cowboys". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  5. ^ "1960 Dallas Cowboys". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  6. ^ "Ex-Spartan Called UP". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  7. ^ https://www.mlive.com/spartans/index.ssf/2018/11/former_michigan_state_all-amer_9.html

External links

1956 Rose Bowl

The 1956 Rose Bowl game, played on January 2, 1956, was the 42nd Rose Bowl game. The Michigan State Spartans defeated the UCLA Bruins, 17–14. Michigan State halfback Walt Kowalczyk was named the Rose Bowl Player Of The Game. The game was played on January 2, because New Year's Day was a Sunday. It featured two of the most racially integrated college football teams of the day with six African American players for the Bruins and seven for the Spartans. This stood in stark contrast to the 1956 Sugar Bowl, where there was controversy over whether Bobby Grier from Pitt should be allowed to play and whether Georgia Tech should even play at all due to Georgia governor Marvin Griffin's opposition to integration. Only one month previous, Rosa Parks made her famous protest in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The 1956 Rose Bowl has the highest TV rating of all college bowl games, watched by 41.1% of all people in the US with TV sets.

1957 All-Big Ten Conference football team

The 1957 All-Big Ten Conference football team consists of American football players chosen by various organizations to the All-Big Ten Conference teams for the 1957 Big Ten Conference football season.

1957 Big Ten Conference football season

The 1957 Big Ten Conference football season was the 62nd 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 1957 NCAA University Division football season.

The 1957 Ohio State Buckeyes football team, under head coach Woody Hayes, won the conference championship with a 7-0 conference record (9–1 record overall), was ranked No. 1 in the final Coaches' Poll, and defeated Oregon in the 1958 Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes were ranked No.2 in the final AP Poll, but were also declared national champion by the FWAA poll. Ohio State back Don Clark led the conference with 737 rushing yards. Guard Aurealius Thomas was a first-team All-American.

The 1957 Michigan State Spartans football team, under head coach Duffy Daugherty, compiled an 8–1 record and was ranked No. 3 in the final AP and UPI polls. Michigan State back Walt Kowalczyk and center Dan Currie were selected as consensus first-team All-Americans. Kowalczyk led the conference with 54 points scored, and Currie was selected as the team's most valuable player.

The 1957 Iowa Hawkeyes football team, under head coach Forest Evashevski, finished third in the Big Ten with a 7–1–1 record and was ranked No. 8 in the final AP Poll. Iowa tackle Alex Karras was a consensus first-team All-American and won the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in college football. Quarterback Randy Duncan led the Big Ten with 1,124 passing yards and 1,183 total yards.

Michigan halfback Jim Pace won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the conference's most valuable player.

1957 College Football All-America Team

The 1957 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 1957. The seven selectors recognized by the NCAA as "official" for the 1957 season are (1) the Associated Press, (2) the United Press, (3) the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), (4) the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), (5) the International News Service (INS), (6) the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), and (7) the Sporting News. The ESPN College Football Encyclopedia lists the All-America Board (AAB) as an eighth official selector.

1957 Michigan State Spartans football team

The 1957 Michigan State Spartans football team represented Michigan State University in the 1957 Big Ten Conference football season. In their fourth season under head coach Duffy Daugherty, the Spartans compiled an 8–1 overall record (5–1 against Big Ten opponents), finished in second place in the Big Ten Conference, and were ranked #3 in both the final AP Poll and the final Coaches Poll. Michigan State was named national champion by Dunkel System, an NCAA-designated major selector.Six Spartans were selected as first-team players on the 1957 All-Big Ten Conference football team: quarterback Jim Ninowski (AP-1, UP-1); fullback Walt Kowalczyk (AP-1, UP-1); center Dan Currie (AP-1, UP-1); tackle Pat Burke (AP-1, UP-1); end Sam Williams (UP-1); and guard Ellison Kelly (UP-1).The 1957 Spartans won all three of their annual rivalry games. In the annual Indiana–Michigan State football rivalry game, the Spartans defeated the Hoosiers by a 54 to 0 score. In the Notre Dame rivalry game, the Spartans defeated the Fighting Irish by a 34 to 6 score. And, in the annual Michigan–Michigan State football rivalry game, the Spartans defeated the Wolverines by a 35 to 6 score.In non-conference play, the Spartans also defeated California, 19-0, and Kansas State, 27-9.

1957 NCAA University Division football season

The 1957 NCAA University Division football season saw two different national champions. Auburn University was ranked first in the AP writers' poll taken at season's end, while Ohio State University was first in the UPI coaches' poll. Auburn was ineligible for a bowl game, however, having been placed on probation indefinitely by the Southeastern Conference, after having paid two high school players $500 apiece.During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for the major college football teams in the University Division, later known as Division I-A. The NCAA did recognize a national champion based upon the final results of "wire service" (AP and UPI) polls. The extent of that recognition came in the form of acknowledgment in the annual NCAA Football Guide of the "unofficial" national champions. The AP poll in 1957 consisted of the votes of as many as 360 sportswriters. The UPI poll was taken of a panel of 35 coaches. In both cases, the voters would give their opinion of the ten best teams, and under a point system of 10 points for first place, 9 for second, etc., the "overall" ranking was determined. The top teams played on New Year's Day in the four major postseason bowl games: the Rose Bowl (near Los Angeles at Pasadena), the Sugar Bowl (New Orleans), the Orange Bowl (Miami), and the Cotton Bowl Classic (Dallas).

1957 in Michigan

Events from the year 1957 in Michigan.

The major stories of 1957 in Michigan included: (1) the November 1 opening of the Mackinac Bridge, (2) the adoption of new 10-year highway construction program, and (3) the sudden death of Detroit Mayor Albert Cobo on September 12.

1958 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1958 Philadelphia Eagles season was the franchise's 26th season in the National Football League (NFL). They failed to improve on their previous output of 4–8, winning only two games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season. In the offseason, Vince Lombardi was offered the Eagles head coaching position but he refused it. He opted to stay as the Offensive Coordinator of the New York Giants.

1959 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1959 Philadelphia Eagles season was the franchise's 27th season in the National Football League. They improved on their previous output of 2–9–1, winning seven games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the tenth consecutive season.

1960 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1960 Dallas Cowboys season was the inaugural season for the franchise in the National Football League (NFL). The team finished with no wins, 11 losses, and 1 tie, which placed them last in the Western Conference, and was the worst record in the NFL for that season, worse than Dallas' previous entry into the NFL, the Dallas Texans (who finished 1–11 in their lone season in 1952, then relocated to Baltimore as the Colts).

1961 Oakland Raiders season

The 1961 Oakland Raiders season was the team's second in the American Football League.

The Raiders tried to improve on their 6–8 record from 1960. The team failed to do so and finished last in the AFL West with a 2–12 record.

The team was based out of Oakland, but they played their home games at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.

The Raiders set an AFL record in 1961, posting a point differential of negative-221. The Raiders surrendered 36 rushing touchdowns, a pro football record.

Jerry Reichow

Garet Neal Reichow (born May 19, 1934) is a former professional American football player. A 6'-3", 220 lbs. tight end from the University of Iowa, Reichow was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round of the 1956 NFL Draft. He was one of two Minnesota Vikings (along with Hugh McElhenny) selected to the Pro Bowl after their inaugural 1961 season.

An All-Big Ten quarterback, Reichow starred at Iowa. He was the football team’s MVP as a senior and left school as its all-time leader in total offense. The Detroit Lions took notice and selected Reichow, who also played in the 1955 basketball Final Four for Iowa, in the fourth round. Reichow contributed to the Lions’ 1957 NFL title as a receiver and back-up quarterback for Tobin Rote, whom replaced the injured Bobby Layne as starting quarterback. Reichow would see relief duty at quarterback in the 1957 NFL Championship Game, when Rote left the game with the Lions leading 52-14. Three years later, Reichow was a member of the Eagles’ 1960 championship club.

On July 24, 1960, (Walt Kowalczyk) was traded to the Detroit Lions in exchange for Jerry Reichow.[1]

Reichow joined former teammate Norm Van Brocklin who became the Minnesota Vikings first head coach where he was key to quarterback Fran Tarkenton’s success in 1961. Reichow played wide receiver and proved to be the rookie’s favorite target, catching 50 passes for 859 yards and 11 touchdowns. (Reichow’s 11 TD receptions stood 34 years as a single-season team record until broken by Cris Carter in 1995.)

No. 89 followed his Pro Bowl season with 39 receptions before moving to tight end his final years in purple. Known as “Old Reliable” and considered one of the team’s toughest players, Reichow caught a combined 55 passes from his new position in 1963-64.

At the age of 31, and with the team stockpiling young receivers, Reichow’s playing career ended when Van Brocklin cut the highly respected veteran during the 1965 training camp and gave him a job scouting for the club.

Reichow’s opinions and keen eye for talent have helped shaped the Vikings for the majority of their 56 years. The former wide receiver and tight end has served in a variety of personnel roles during his five decades of dedication to the franchise. From scout to Director of Player Personnel to Director of Football Operations to Assistant General Manager for National Scouting to his current consultant role, which he assumed a few years ago, Reichow is one of the longest-serving employees in the NFL. His longevity and success in the fickle “Not For Long” league is all the more impressive considering his background when entering the personnel department in 1965. Jerry Reichow currently resides in Santa Fe, NM with his wife Carolyn Reichow.


Kowalczyk is the fifth most common surname in Poland (98,739 people in 2009). The name comes from the word "blacksmith".

List of Dallas Cowboys players

This is a complete list of American football players who have played for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). It includes players that have played at least one game in the NFL regular season. The Dallas Cowboys franchise was founded in 1960 as an expansion team. The team has earned the most postseason appearances (28, which includes another league record of 54 postseason games, winning 32 of them), the most appearances in the NFC Championship Game (14), and the 2nd most Super Bowl appearances (8). The Cowboys have played for 10 NFL Championships and have won five, all five being Super Bowls.

Rochester, Michigan

Rochester is a city on the north side of the Detroit Metropolitan Area, in Oakland County, in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 12,711 at the 2010 census.

Rochester Hills, Michigan

Rochester Hills (formerly Avon Township) is a city in northeast Oakland County in the U.S. state of Michigan, in the northern outskirts of the Metro Detroit area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 70,995.

The Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C.

The Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C., Inc. was founded in 1938 with the goals of "improving relationship between persons interested in the game of football; that there may be given encouragement for good, clean sport; that there may be a more perfect understanding among such persons; and, that there may be mutual benefits and pleasures derived from such association."

Westfield High School (Massachusetts)

Westfield High School (Westfield, Massachusetts) is a public, coeducational high school located in Westfield, Massachusetts founded in 1855. It serves as the public high school for students in grades 9 through 12, and has a student enrollment of 1,269 (2016-17).


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