Y. A. Tittle

Yelberton Abraham Tittle Jr. (October 24, 1926 – October 8, 2017), better known as Y. A. Tittle, was a professional American football quarterback. He played in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, and Baltimore Colts, after spending two seasons with the Colts in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC).[b] Known for his competitiveness, leadership, and striking profile, Tittle was the centerpiece of several prolific offenses throughout his seventeen-year professional career from 1948 to 1964.

Tittle played college football for Louisiana State University, where he was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) quarterback for the LSU Tigers football team. As a junior, he was named the most valuable player (MVP) of the infamous 1947 Cotton Bowl Classic—also known as the "Ice Bowl"—a scoreless tie between the Tigers and Arkansas Razorbacks in a snowstorm. After college, he was drafted in the 1947 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, but he instead chose to play in the AAFC for the Colts.

With the Colts, Tittle was named the AAFC Rookie of the Year in 1948 after leading the team to the AAFC playoffs. After consecutive one-win seasons, the Colts franchise folded, which allowed Tittle to be drafted in the 1951 NFL Draft by the 49ers. Through ten seasons in San Francisco, he was invited to four Pro Bowls, led the league in touchdown passes in 1955, and was named the NFL Player of the Year by the United Press in 1957. A groundbreaker, Tittle was part of the 49ers' famed Million Dollar Backfield, was the first professional football player featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and is credited with having coined "alley-oop" as a sports term.

Considered washed-up, the 34-year-old Tittle was traded to the Giants following the 1960 season. Over the next four seasons, he won several individual awards, twice set the league single-season record for touchdown passes, and led the Giants to three straight NFL championship games. Although he was never able to deliver a championship to the team, Tittle's time in New York is regarded among the glory years of the franchise.[3]

In his final season, Tittle was photographed bloodied and kneeling down in the end zone after a tackle by a defender left him helmetless. The photograph is considered one of the most iconic images in North American sports history. He retired as the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, attempts, completions, and games played. Tittle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, and his jersey number 14 is retired by the Giants.

Y. A. Tittle
refer to caption
Tittle c. 1960
No. 63, 64, 14
Position:Quarterback
Personal information
Born:October 24, 1926
Marshall, Texas
Died:October 8, 2017 (aged 90)
Stanford, California
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:192 lb (87 kg)
Career information
High school:Marshall (Marshall, Texas)
College:LSU
NFL Draft:1948 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL[a] statistics
TDINT:212–221
Passing yards:28,339
Completion percentage:55.5
Passer rating:73.6
Rushing touchdowns:33
Player stats at NFL.com

Early years and college career

Born and raised in Marshall, Texas, to Alma and Yelberton Abraham Tittle Sr., Tittle aspired to be a quarterback from a young age. He spent hours in his backyard throwing a football through a tire swing, emulating his neighbor and boyhood idol, Sammy Baugh. Tittle played high school football at Marshall High School. In his senior year the team posted an undefeated record and reached the state finals.[4]

After a recruiting battle between Louisiana State University and the University of Texas, Tittle chose to attend LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and play for the LSU Tigers.[5] He was part of a successful 1944 recruiting class under head coach Bernie Moore that included halfbacks Jim Cason, Dan Sandifer, and Ray Coates.[5] Freshmen were eligible to play on the varsity during World War II, so Tittle saw playing time immediately.[5] He later said the finest moment of his four years at LSU was beating Tulane as a freshman,[6] a game in which he set a school record with 238 passing yards.[7] It was one of two games the Tigers won that season.[6]

Moore started Tittle at tailback in the single-wing formation his first year, but moved him to quarterback in the T formation during his sophomore season.[8] As a junior in 1946, Tittle's three touchdown passes in a 41–27 rout of rival Tulane helped ensure LSU a spot in the Cotton Bowl Classic.[9] Known notoriously as the "Ice Bowl", the 1947 Cotton Bowl pitted LSU against the Arkansas Razorbacks in sub-freezing temperatures on an ice-covered field in Dallas, Texas. LSU moved the ball much better than the Razorbacks, but neither team was able to score, and the game ended in a 0–0 tie. Tittle and Arkansas end Alton Baldwin shared the game's MVP award.[10] Following the season, United Press International (UPI) placed Tittle on its All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) first-team.[11]

UPI again named Tittle its first-team All-SEC quarterback in 1947.[12] In Tittle's day of iron man football, he played on both offense and defense. While on defense during a 20–18 loss to SEC champion Ole Miss in his senior season, Tittle's belt buckle was torn off as he intercepted a pass from Charlie Conerly and broke a tackle. He ran down the sideline with one arm cradling the ball and the other holding up his pants. At the Ole Miss 20-yard line, as he attempted to stiff-arm a defender, Tittle's pants fell and he tripped and fell onto his face. The fall kept him from scoring the game-winning touchdown.[13][14]

In total, during his college career Tittle set school passing records with 162 completions out of 330 attempts for 2,525 yards and 23 touchdowns. He scored seven touchdowns himself as a runner.[7] His passing totals remained unbroken until Bert Jones surpassed them in the 1970s.[15]

Professional career

Tittle 1950 Bowman
Illustration of Tittle with the Colts

Baltimore Colts

Tittle was the sixth overall selection of the 1948 NFL Draft, taken by the Detroit Lions.[16] However, Tittle instead began his professional career with the Baltimore Colts of the All-America Football Conference in 1948. That season, already being described as a "passing ace",[17] he was unanimously recognized as the AAFC Rookie of the Year by UPI after passing for 2,739 yards and leading the Colts to the brink of an Eastern Division championship.[8] After a 1–11 win–loss record in 1949, the Colts joined the National Football League in 1950. The team again posted a single win against eleven losses, and the franchise folded after the season due to financial difficulties.[18] Players on the roster at the time of the fold were eligible to be drafted in the next NFL draft.[19]

San Francisco 49ers

Tittle was then drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1951 NFL Draft after the Colts folded. While many players at the time were unable to play immediately due to military duties, Tittle had received a class IV-F exemption due to physical ailments, so he was able to join the 49ers roster that season.[20] In 1951 and 1952, he shared time at quarterback with Frankie Albert. In 1953, his first full season as the 49ers' starter, he passed for 2,121 yards and twenty touchdowns and was invited to his first Pro Bowl.[21] San Francisco finished with a 9–3 regular season record, which was good enough for second in the Western Conference, and led the league in points scored.[22]

In 1954, the 49ers compiled their Million Dollar Backfield, which was composed of four future Hall of Famers: Tittle; fullbacks John Henry Johnson and Joe Perry; and halfback Hugh McElhenny.[23][24] "It made quarterbacking so easy because I just get in the huddle and call anything and you have three Hall of Fame running backs ready to carry the ball," Tittle reminisced in 2006.[23] The team had aspirations for a championship run, but injuries, including McElhenny's separated shoulder in the sixth game of the season, ended those hopes and the 49ers finished third in the Western Division.[24][25] Tittle starred in his second straight Pro Bowl appearance as he threw two touchdown passes, including one to 49ers teammate Billy Wilson, who was named the game's MVP.[26]

Tittle 1954 Bowman
Tittle on a 1954 trading card

Tittle became the first professional football player featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he appeared on its fifteenth issue dated November 22, 1954, donning his 49ers uniform and helmet featuring an acrylic face mask distinct to the time period.[24][27] The cover photo also shows a metal bracket on the side of Tittle's helmet which served to protect his face by preventing the helmet from caving in.[28] The 1954 cover was the first of four Sports Illustrated covers he graced during his career.[29]

Tittle led the NFL in touchdown passes for the first time in 1955, with 17, while also leading the league with 28 interceptions thrown.[4] When the 49ers hired Frankie Albert as head coach in 1956,[30] Tittle was pleased with the choice at first, figuring Albert would be a good mentor.[4] However, the team lost four of its first five games, and Albert replaced Tittle with rookie Earl Morrall. After a loss to the Los Angeles Rams brought San Francisco's record to 1–6, Tittle regained the starting role and the team finished undefeated with one tie through the season's final five games.[4][31]

In 1957, Tittle and receiver R. C. Owens devised a pass play in which Tittle tossed the ball high into the air and the 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Owens leapt to retrieve it, typically resulting in a long gain or a touchdown. Tittle dubbed the play the "alley-oop"—the first usage of the term in sports[32]—and it was highly successful when utilized.[33] The 49ers finished the regular season with an 8–4 record and hosted the Detroit Lions in the Western Conference playoff. Against the Lions Tittle passed for 248 yards and tossed three touchdown passes—one each to Owens, McElhenny, and Wilson—but Detroit overcame a twenty-point third quarter deficit to win 31–27.[34] For the season, Tittle had a league-leading 63.1 completion percentage, threw for 2,157 yards and thirteen touchdowns, and rushed for six more scores. He was deemed "pro player of the year" by a United Press poll of members of the National Football Writers Association.[35][36] Additionally, he was named to his first All-Pro team and invited to his third Pro Bowl.[37][38]

After a poor 1958 preseason by Tittle, Albert started John Brodie at quarterback for the 1958 season, a decision that proved unpopular with the fan base.[4] Tittle came in to relieve Brodie in a week six game against the Lions, with ten minutes left in the game and the 49ers down 21–17. His appearance "drew a roar of approval from the crowd of 59,213," after which he drove the team downfield and threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to McElhenny for the winning score.[39] A right knee ligament injury against the Colts in week nine ended Tittle's season, and San Francisco finished with a 7–5 record, followed by Albert's resignation as coach.[4] Tittle and Brodie continued to share time at quarterback over the next two seasons.[4] In his fourth and final Pro Bowl game with the 49ers in 1959, Tittle completed 13 of 17 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown.[40]

Under new head coach Red Hickey in 1960, the 49ers adopted the shotgun formation.[41] The first implementation of the shotgun was in week nine against the Colts, with Brodie at quarterback while Tittle nursed a groin injury. The 49ers scored a season-high thirty points, and with Brodie in the shotgun won three of their last four games to salvage a winning season at 7–5.[4] Though conflicted, Tittle decided to get into shape and prepare for the next season. He stated in his 2009 autobiography that at times he thought, "The hell with it. Quit this damned game. You have been at it too long anyway." But then another voice within him would say, "Come back for another year and show them you're still a good QB. Don't let them shotgun you out of football!"[4] However, after the first preseason game of 1961, Hickey informed Tittle he had been traded to the New York Giants.[4]

New York Giants

In mid-August 1961, the 49ers traded the 34-year-old Tittle to the New York Giants for second-year guard Lou Cordileone.[42] Cordileone, the 12th overall pick in the 1960 NFL Draft, was quoted as reacting "Me, even up for Y. A. Tittle? You're kidding,"[24] and later remarked that the Giants traded him for "a 42-year-old quarterback."[43] Tittle's view of Cordileone was much the same, stating his dismay that the 49ers did not get a "name ballplayer" in return.[4][43] He was also displeased with being traded to the East Coast, and said he would rather have been traded to the Los Angeles Rams.[43]

Already considered washed up,[44] Tittle was intended by the Giants to share quarterback duties with 40-year-old Charlie Conerly, who had been with the team since 1948.[45] The players at first remained loyal to Conerly, and treated Tittle with the cold shoulder.[46][47] Tittle missed the season opener due to a back injury sustained before the season.[48] His first game with New York came in week two, against the Steelers, in which he and Conerly each threw a touchdown pass in the Giants' 17–14 win.[49] He became the team's primary starter for the remainder of the season and led the revitalized Giants to first place in the Eastern Conference.[50] The Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) awarded Tittle its Jim Thorpe Trophy as the NFL's players' choice of MVP.[51][52] In the 1961 NFL Championship Game, the Giants were soundly defeated by Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, as they were shut-out 0–37.[53] Tittle completed six of twenty passes in the game and threw four interceptions.[54]

In January 1962, Tittle stated his intention to retire following the 1962 season.[55] After an off-season quarterback competition with Ralph Guglielmi,[45] Tittle played and started in a career-high 14 games. He tied an NFL record by throwing seven touchdown passes in a game on October 28, 1962, in a 49–34 win over the Washington Redskins.[56][57] Against the Dallas Cowboys in the regular season finale, Tittle threw six touchdown passes to set the single-season record with 33, which had been set the previous year by Sonny Jurgensen's 32.[58] He earned player of the year honors from the Washington D.C. Touchdown Club,[59] UPI,[36] and The Sporting News,[60] and finished just behind Green Bay's Jim Taylor in voting for the AP NFL Most Valuable Player Award.[61] The Giants again finished first in the Eastern Conference and faced the Packers in the 1962 NFL Championship Game. In frigid, windy conditions at Yankee Stadium and facing a constant pass rush from the Packers' front seven, Tittle completed only 18 of his 41 attempts in the game. The Packers won, 16–7, with New York's lone score coming on a blocked punt recovered in the end zone by Jim Collier.[62]

Tittle 1962 Topps
Tittle on a 1962 trading card

Tittle returned to the Giants in 1963 and, at age 37, supplanted his single-season passing touchdowns record by throwing 36.[4][63] He broke the record in the final game with three touchdowns against the Steelers, three days after being named NFL MVP by the AP.[64] The Giants led the league in scoring by a wide margin, and for the third time in as many years clinched the Eastern Conference title.[63] The Western champions were George Halas' Chicago Bears. The teams met in the 1963 NFL Championship Game at Wrigley Field. In the second quarter, Tittle injured his knee on a tackle by Larry Morris, and required a novocaine shot at halftime to continue playing. After holding a 10–7 halftime lead, The Giants were shutout in the second half, during which Tittle threw four interceptions. Playing through the knee injury, he completed 11 of 29 passes in the game for 147 yards, a touchdown, and five interceptions as the Bears won 14–10.[65][66]

The following year in 1964, Tittle's final season, the Giants went 2–10–2 (.214), the worst record in the 14-team league.[67] In the second game of the year, against Pittsburgh, he was blindsided by defensive end John Baker.[68] The tackle left Tittle with crushed cartilage in his ribs, a cracked sternum, and a concussion.[4] However, he played in every game the rest of the season, but was relegated to a backup role later in the year.[44] After throwing only ten touchdowns with 22 interceptions, he retired after the season at age 39, saying rookie quarterback Gary Wood not only "took my job away, but started to ask permission to date my daughter."[44][69] Over seventeen seasons as a professional, Tittle completed 2,427 out of 4,395 passes for 33,070 yards and 242 touchdowns, with 248 interceptions. He also rushed for 39 touchdowns.[70]

Career statistics

AAFC
Year Team G Passing Rushing
Cmp Att Pct Yds TD Int Rate Yds TD
1948 BAL 14 161 289 55.7 2,522 16 9 90.3 157 4
1949 BAL 11 148 289 51.2 2,209 14 18 66.8 89 2
Career 25 309 578 53.4 4,731 30 27 78.6 246 6
NFL
Year Team G Passing Rushing
Cmp Att Pct Yds TD Int Rate Yds TD
1950 BAL 12 161 315 51.1 1,884 8 19 52.9 77 2
1951 SF 12 63 114 55.3 808 8 9 68.2 18 1
1952 SF 12 106 208 51.0 1,407 11 12 66.3 −11 0
1953 SF 11 149 259 57.5 2,121 20 16 84.1 41 6
1954 SF 12 170 295 57.6 2,205 9 9 78.7 68 4
1955 SF 12 147 287 51.2 2,185 17 28 56.6 114 0
1956 SF 11 124 218 56.9 1,641 7 12 68.6 67 4
1957 SF 12 176 279 63.1 2,157 13 15 80.0 220 6
1958 SF 11 120 208 57.7 1,467 9 15 63.9 35 2
1959 SF 11 102 199 51.3 1,331 10 15 58.0 24 0
1960 SF 9 69 127 54.3 694 4 3 70.8 61 0
1961 NYG 13 163 285 57.2 2,272 17 12 85.3 85 3
1962 NYG 14 200 375 53.3 3,224 33 20 89.5 108 2
1963 NYG 13 221 367 60.2 3,145 36 14 104.8 99 2
1964 NYG 14 147 281 52.3 1,798 10 22 51.6 −7 1
Career 179 2,118 3,817 55.5 28,339 212 221 73.6 999 33

Profile and playing style

Tittle threw the ball from a sidearm, almost underhand position, something novel at those times, though it was common practice in earlier decades. It was this seemingly underhand style that drew the curiosity and admiration of many fans. In tandem with his baldness—for which he was frequently referred to as the "Bald Eagle"—he made for a very striking personality.[47][71] Despite his throwing motion, he had a very strong and accurate arm with a quick release.[72] His ability to read defenses made him one of the best screen passers in the NFL.[73][74] He was a perfectionist and highly competitive, and he expected the same of his teammates. He possessed rare leadership and game-planning skills, and played with great enthusiasm even in his later years. "Tittle has the attitude of a high school kid, with the brain of a computer," said Giants teammate Frank Gifford.[47] Baltimore Colts halfback Lenny Moore, when asked in 1963 to compare Tittle and Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas, said:

I played with Tittle in the Pro Bowl two years ago, and I discovered he's quite a guy ... He and John, however, are entirely different types ... Tittle is a sort of 'con man' with his players ... he comes into a huddle and 'suggests' that maybe this or that will work on account of something he saw happen on a previous play ... The way he puts it, you're convinced it's a good idea and maybe it will work. John, now, he's a take-charge guy ... He tells you what the other guy's going to do, what he's going to do, and what he wants you to do.[75]

Tittle's most productive years came when he was well beyond his athletic prime. On his ability to improve with age, he credited a feel for the game that came from his years of experience in the league.[76] "If you could learn it by studying movies, a good smart college quarterback could learn all you've got to learn in three weeks and then come in and be as good as the old heads," he told Sports Illustrated in 1963. "But they can't."[73]

Legacy

At the time of his retirement, Tittle held the following NFL records:[44][77]

  • Career passing yards (28,339)
  • Career passing touchdowns (212)
  • Career pass attempts (3,817)
  • Career pass completions (2,118)
  • Passing touchdowns in a season (36)
  • Passing touchdowns in a game (7)
  • Career total offense (29,338)
  • Games played (176)

Tittle was the fourth player to throw seven touchdown passes in a game, when he did so in 1962 against the Redskins. He followed Sid Luckman (1943), Adrian Burk (1954), and George Blanda (1961). The feat has since been equaled by four more players: Joe Kapp (1969), Peyton Manning (2013), Nick Foles (2013), and Drew Brees (2015).[57] Tittle, Manning and Foles did it without an interception. His 36 touchdown passes in 1963 set a record which stood for over two decades until it was surpassed by Dan Marino in 1984;[78] as of 2016 it remains a Giants franchise record.[79]

Despite record statistics and three straight championship game appearances, Tittle was never able to deliver a title to his team.[3][80] His record as a starter in postseason games was 0–4. He threw four touchdown passes against 14 interceptions and had a passer rating of 33.8 in his postseason career, far below his regular season passer rating of 74.3.[70] Seth Wickersham, writing for ESPN The Magazine in 2014, noted the dichotomy in the 1960s between two of New York's major sports franchises: "... Gifford, Huff and Tittle, a team of Hall of Famers known for losing championships as their peers on the Yankees—with whom they shared a stadium, a city, and many rounds of drinks—became renowned for winning them."[81] The Giants struggled after Tittle's retirement, posting only two winning seasons from 1964 to 1980.[82]

He made seven Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pro teams, and four times was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player or Player of the Year: in 1957[35] and 1962 by the UPI;[36] in 1961 by the NEA;[52] and in 1963 by the AP and NEA.[52][83] In a sports column in 1963, George Strickler for the Chicago Tribune remarked Tittle had "broken records that at one time appeared unassailable and he has been the hero of more second half rallies than Napoleon and the Harlem Globetrotters."[71] He was featured on four Sports Illustrated covers: three during his playing career and one shortly after retirement. His first was with the 49ers in 1954. With the Giants, he graced covers in November 1961,[84] and he was on the season preview issue for 1964; a two-page fold-out photo from the 1963 title game.[85][86] Tittle was on a fourth cover in August 1965.[87]

The trade of Tittle for Lou Cordileone is seen as one of the worst trades in 49ers history;[19][88] it is considered one of the best trades in Giants franchise history.[79][89] Cordileone played just one season in San Francisco.[88]

Famous photo

YA Tittle, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The photograph "immortalized Tittle in football lore as an image of the aging warrior who had finally fallen."[90]

A photo of a dazed Tittle in the end zone taken by Morris Berman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on September 20, 1964, is regarded among the most iconic images in the history of American sports and journalism.[91][92] Tittle, in his 17th and final season, was photographed helmet-less, bloodied and kneeling immediately after having been knocked to the ground by John Baker of the Pittsburgh Steelers and throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown at the old Pitt Stadium. He suffered a concussion and cracked sternum on the play, but went on to play the rest of the season.[93]

Post-Gazette editors declined to publish the photo, looking for "action shots" instead, but Berman entered the image into contests where it took on a life of its own, winning a National Headliner Award.[91] The photo was published in the October 2, 1964, issue of Life magazine.[94] It is regarded as having changed the way that photographers look at sports, having shown the power of capturing a moment of reaction. It became one of three photos to hang in the lobby of the National Press Photographers Association headquarters, alongside Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima and the Hindenburg disaster. A copy now hangs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[95]

After at first having failed to see the appeal of the image, Tittle eventually grew to embrace it, putting it on the back cover of his 2009 autobiography.[96] "That was the end of the road," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. "It was the end of my dream. It was over."[93] Pittsburgh player John Baker, who hit Tittle right before the picture was taken, ran for sheriff in his native Wake County, North Carolina in 1978, and used the photo as a campaign tool.[97] He was elected and went on to serve for 24 years.[98] Tittle also held a fundraiser to assist Baker in his bid for a fourth term in 1989.[99]

Honors

In recognition of his high school and college careers, respectively, Tittle was inducted to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1987[100] and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1972.[101]

Tittle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with its 1971 class, which included contemporaries Jim Brown, Norm Van Brocklin, the late Vince Lombardi, and former Giants teammate Andy Robustelli.[102] By virtue of his membership in the pro hall of fame, he was automatically inducted as a charter member of the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame in 2009.[103]

The Giants had originally retired the number 14 jersey in honor of Ward Cuff, but Tittle requested and was granted the jersey number by Giants owner Wellington Mara when he joined the team. It was retired again immediately following his retirement, and is now retired in honor of both players.[104] In 2010, Tittle became a charter member of the New York Giants Ring of Honor.[79][105]

Personal life

After his retirement, he rejoined the 49ers staff and served as an assistant coach before being hired by the Giants in 1970 as a quarterback mentor.[106] During his NFL career, Tittle worked as an insurance salesman in the off-season.[73][107] After retiring, he founded his own company, Y. A. Tittle Insurance & Financial Services.

Until his death, Tittle resided in Atherton, California. His wife Minnette died in 2012. They had three sons: Michael, Patrick and John, and a daughter, Dianne Tittle de Laet.[108] Their daughter is a harpist and poet, and in 1995 she published a biography of her father titled Giants & Heroes: A Daughter's Memories of Y. A. Tittle.[109]

In his later life, Tittle suffered from severe dementia which adversely affected his memory and limited his conversation to a handful of topics.[81] Tittle died on October 8, 2017, at a hospital in Stanford, California, of natural causes.[90]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Statistics and records accumulated in the All-America Football Conference are not recognized by the NFL.[1][2]
  2. ^ Not to be confused with the better-known Baltimore Colts of the NFL, founded in 1953

References

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  7. ^ a b Calhoun, Jim (1971). Louisiana Sports Record Book. Pelican Publishing. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-1-4556-0785-3. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
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  25. ^ "Shoulder Injuries Fell Stars, Reshuffle Pro Grid Standings". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. November 20, 1954. p. 9. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  26. ^ "West Defeats East 26–19 In All-Star Bowl". Gettysburg Times. Associated Press. January 17, 1955. p. 5. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
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  28. ^ Lukas, Paul. "The rich history of helmets". ESPN. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
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Further reading

  • Cavanaugh, Jack (2008). Giants Among Men: The Smartest Football Team There Ever Was. Random House. ISBN 1588366979.
  • De Laet, Dianne (1995). Giants & heroes: a daughter's memories of Y. A. Tittle. University of Michigan: Steerfoth Press.
  • Maiocco, Matt (2013). San Francisco 49ers: Where Have You Gone? Joe Montana, Y. A. Tittle, Steve Young, and Other 49ers Greats. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 161321572X.
  • Schwartz, Paul; Mara, Wellington (2011). Tales from the New York Giants Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Giants Stories Ever Told. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 1613210329.
  • Tittle, Y.A.; Clark, Kristine Setting (2009). Nothing Comes Easy. Triumph Books. ISBN 1-60078-210-8.

External links

1947 Cotton Bowl Classic

The 1947 Cotton Bowl Classic was a post-season college football bowl game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the LSU Tigers. Arkansas and LSU tied the game, later referred to as the Ice Bowl, 0–0. The two teams met again in the Cotton Bowl Classic in 1966.

1951 San Francisco 49ers season

The 1951 San Francisco 49ers season was the team's second season in the NFL and sixth overall. The team was coming off a 3–9–0 record in 1950.

The 49ers would win their first ever NFL road game on October 14 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, after losing their first 7 in the league. The Niners would be in playoff contention all year long, finishing 7–4–1, just a half game out of first place in the National Conference. Their biggest win of the season was a 44–17 victory over their California rivals, the Los Angeles Rams.

Frankie Albert and Y. A. Tittle would split time at quarterback, with Albert throwing for 1,116 yards, while Tittle would lead the club with 8 TD's and completing 55.3% of his passes. Joe Perry would once again lead the team in rushing with 677 yards and 3 TD's, and wide receiver Gordie Soltau would lead the club with 59 catches for 826 yards and 7 TD's.

1952 San Francisco 49ers season

The 1952 San Francisco 49ers season was the team's third season in the NFL and seventh season overall; they were coming off a 7–4–1 record in 1951.

The 49ers started the season by winning each of their first five games by at least 2 touchdowns, and had visions of playing in their first ever NFL Championship game. However, the 49ers lost five of their final 7 games to finish the year at 7–5–0, and in 3rd place in the NFC.

Y. A. Tittle emerged as the starting quarterback, as he havda completion rate of 51.0% along with 11 TDs and 1,407 yards. Frankie Albert also had some action, completing 55.0% of his passes, along with 8 TDs and 964 yards.

Joe Perry rushed for a team high 725 yards and 8 TDs, while Hugh McElhenny had 684 yards on 98 attempts (7.0 yards/carry), along with 6 rushing TDs, while he caught 26 passes for 367 yards and earned another three touchdowns. Gordie Soltau led the club with 55 receptions for 774 yards, and 7 TDs.

1953 San Francisco 49ers season

The 1953 San Francisco 49ers season was the team's fourth season in the NFL, and were coming off a 7–5–0 record in 1952.

The 49ers would play consistent football all season long, never losing consecutive games throughout the season en route to a franchise best 9–3–0 record. However, the 49ers would lose both games against the Detroit Lions, who finished the season 10–2–0 to win the Western Conference and earn a spot in the NFL Championship game.

Offensively, San Francisco was led by quarterback Y. A. Tittle, who threw for 2121 yards and 20 TD's while completing 57.5% of his passes. Running back Joe Perry had another great season, rushing for 1018 yards along with 10 TD's, while Hugh McElhenny rushed for 503 yards and 3 TD's, and caught 30 passes for 474 yards and 6 TD's. Wide receiver Billy Wilson would catch a team high 51 passes for 840 yards and 10 TD's.

1955 San Francisco 49ers season

The 1955 San Francisco 49ers season was the team's sixth season in the NFL, and were coming off a 7–4–1 record in 1954, finishing in 3rd place in the Western Conference.

San Francisco would replace head coach Buck Shaw, who had been the only head coach of the club. The new coach would be Red Strader, who had previously been the head coach of the New York Yanks from 1950–1951, where he had a record of 8–14–2 in his 2 seasons there.

The 49ers started the year with 2 losses at home, but would rebound with 2 road victories and sat with a .500 record after 4 games. San Francisco would split their next 2 games at home and have a 3–3 record. The team would then fall into a slump, and lose their next 5 games, before winning their final game of the season, and finish the season with a 4–8–0 record, their worst season since the team's first season in the NFL in 1950, when they finished 3–9–0.

Offensively, Y. A. Tittle threw for 2185 yards, completing 51.2% of his passes, and had a league-high 17 touchdown passes. However, Tittle had 28 passes that were intercepted. Billy Wilson was Tittle's favorite target, as he had a team high 53 receptions for 831 yards and seven touchdowns. Joe Perry led the club by rushing for 701 yards, while Dickie Moegle rushed for a team-high five touchdowns.

1956 San Francisco 49ers season

The 1956 San Francisco 49ers season was the team's seventh season in the National Football League (NFL), and was coming off a 4–8–0 record, finishing in 5th place in the Western Conference.

San Francisco brought in a new head coach for the second straight season, as Red Strader was replaced with former 49ers quarterback Frankie Albert, who played with the team from their AAFC days in 1946 until 1952.

The Niners got off to a rough start, winning only 1 of their first 7 games to sit in last place in the Western Conference. San Francisco went unbeaten in their final 5 games, and finished the year with a 5–6–1, and in 3rd place in the Conference.

Offensively, Y. A. Tittle threw for a team-high 1,641 yards and 7 touchdowns, and had 56.9% of his passes completed. Hugh McElhenny rushed for a team-best 916 yards and 8 touchdowns, while Billy Wilson caught a club-high 60 receptions for 889 yards, along with 5 touchdowns. Bob St. Clair blocked ten Field Goal attempts.

1958 San Francisco 49ers season

The 1958 San Francisco 49ers season was the team's ninth in the NFL. The team had an 8–4 record the previous season. During a four-game road trip, the 49ers only won one game and finished with a 6–6 record, 4th place in the NFL Western Division. Each of the team's quarterbacks, Y. A. Tittle and John Brodie, started six of the twelve games and ended the season with similar statistics.

1962 New York Giants season

The 1962 New York Giants season was the franchise's 38th season in the National Football League.

Giants quarterback Y. A. Tittle had a breakout season in 1962. Said Cold Hard Football Facts, "It's safe to call Tittle a late bloomer. He enjoyed various degrees of success in his first 14 seasons with three teams in two different pro football leagues. But then in 1962, at the age of 36 and under second-year head coach Allie Sherman, Tittle exploded for a record 33 TD passes to lead the Giants to a 12–2 record."

1963 New York Giants season

The 1963 New York Giants season was the franchise's 39th season in the National Football League. The Giants won their third consecutive NFL Eastern Conference title with an 11–3 record, their sixth in eight years, but again lost the NFL championship game. This loss was to the Chicago Bears, 14–10 at Wrigley Field, in the Giants' final post-season appearance until 1981.

Giants quarterback Y. A. Tittle produced one of the greatest passing seasons in NFL history. Tittle had had a breakout season the previous year, but according to Cold Hard Football Facts, "[h]e was even better in 1963, breaking his own record set the year before with 36 TD passes while also leading the league in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating. Tittle's G-Men scored a league-leading 32.0 [points-per-game] and he lifted his team to an epic title-game showdown with the Bears, who possessed what was easily the league's best defense in 1963 (10.3 [points-per-game])."

Alley-oop (American football)

The alley-oop is an American football play in which the quarterback throws the ball high into the air, and another player jumps up and catches it. The play was developed in 1957 by San Francisco 49ers players Y. A. Tittle and R. C. Owens. The play was named after V. T. Hamlin's comic strip character Alley Oop; Owens himself was also known as "Alley Oop". It was highly successful when utilized due to Owens' 6 ft 3 in height and ability to out-leap defenders.

Tittle said of the play: "With the Alley-Oop now considered to be a legitimate weapon, the only defense against it was a defensive back who could outleap R.C. – and at that time, no such animal existed in the NFL."According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the usage of the term in football predates its usage in basketball by two years, with the football counterpart also inspiring the play in basketball.

Hal Ledyard

Harold "Hal" Ledyard (July 7, 1931 – April 21, 1973) was a professional gridiron football player in the National Football League and Canadian Football League.

After backing up future Pro Football Hall of Famer Y. A. Tittle in 1953, Ledyard joined the United States Army, where he played quarterback for the Fort Jackson base football team in 1955. Ledyard joined the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1956 and spent three seasons as the team's starting quarterback before being replaced by Frank Tripucka before the 1959 season. Ledyard signed with the Toronto Argonauts in 1959, but was waived before the season began.After not being signed during the 1960 football season, Ledyard returned to the CFL in 1961 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, splitting playing time with Dick Thornton and future Canadian Football Hall of Famer Ken Ploen. During his time in Winnipeg, Ledyard was known as "The best relief pitcher in football" due to his success relieving Ploen. He was a part of the Blue Bomber teams that won the 49th and 50th Grey Cups.

Hal Ledyard is the father of retired professional hockey player Grant Ledyard.

Ledyard died April 21, 1973 in a drowning accident at Big Sur.

Jim Cason

James Allnut Cason Jr. (July 25, 1927 – November 24, 2013) was a professional American football halfback who played eight seasons in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and the National Football League (NFL), mainly for the San Francisco 49ers. He was selected for two Pro Bowls. He also started one game at quarterback in 1954 after Y. A. Tittle broke his left hand. However, Cason was relieved by Tittle in the fourth quarter of the game.He died November 24, 2013 in Harlingen, Texas.

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 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.

List of San Francisco 49ers starting quarterbacks

These quarterbacks have started at least one game for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. They are listed in order of the date of each player's first start at quarterback for the 49ers.

Lou Cordileone

Louis Anthony Cordileone (born August 4, 1937) is a former American football offensive lineman, primarily guard, who played six seasons in the National Football League.He is best-known for being traded from the New York Giants to the San Francisco 49ers for quarterback Y. A. Tittle. Cordileone played college football at Clemson and was drafted in the first round (twelfth overall) of the 1960 NFL Draft. In 2013 Cordileone starred in the TV Land reality show Forever Young.

Million Dollar Backfield (San Francisco 49ers)

The Million Dollar Backfield was a National Football League (NFL) offensive backfield of the San Francisco 49ers from 1954 to 1956. Featuring quarterback Y. A. Tittle, halfbacks Hugh McElhenny and John Henry Johnson, and fullback Joe Perry, the backfield was also referred to as the "Fabulous Foursome" and "Fearsome Foursome" by sportswriters. Formed well before players earned six-figure salaries, the unit was named as such for its offensive prowess, and compiled record offensive statistics. It is regarded as one of the best backfields compiled in NFL history, and is the only full house backfield to have all four of its members enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ward Cuff

Ward Lloyd Cuff (August 12, 1913 – December 24, 2002) was an American football halfback and placekicker in the National Football League (NFL) for the New York Giants, Chicago Cardinals, and Green Bay Packers. He played college football at Marquette University and was drafted in the fourth round of the 1937 NFL Draft.

As a fullback at Marquette, Cuff played in the first Cotton Bowl game, in 1937, losing to TCU. He was also Marquette's heavyweight boxing champion and held the school record in the javelin throw. Cuff played for the Giants from 1937 to 1945, won the NFL championship in 1938, and became the team's career scoring leader with 319 points before being traded to the Cardinals. He played one season with the Cardinals and one with the Packers. He led the NFL in field goals made four times. After his NFL career, Cuff coached high school football in Green Bay, was an assistant coach for the Oregon State Beavers football team, and later worked for The Boeing Company.His number 14 was retired by the Giants, although owner Wellington Mara gave Y. A. Tittle permission to wear it during his time with the Giants from 1961 to 1964. It was retired again in honor of both players.

Legend
Led the league
Bold Career high
Y. A. Tittle—awards and honors

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