Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Berwanger book surprises: Subs can't speak and reform-school boys win wrestling matches

JAY BERWANGER won college football's first HEISMAN TROPHY.
The star running back also hailed from my current city of residence, DUBUQUE, IOWA, and went to the same elementary and middle schools as our girls -- albeit about 80 years before.
Here are three surprising facts I've learned while reading "FIRST HEISMAN: THE LIFE OF JAY BERWANGER," by local author (and our newspaper editor) BRIAN COOPER:
1. In addition to winning the first Heisman Trophy, Berwanger was the first pick in the first NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE draft. The University of Chicago product turned down the pros for a more lucrative career in sales.
2. Substitutes were prohibited from speaking for their first play upon entering a game during football of the 1920s. The rule aimed to thwart the relaying of messages from the sideline. (Now: Radio receivers in NFL players' helmets!)
3. Also a top prep wrestler, Berwanger once lost a district championship match to a wrestler from the Eldora State Training School -- Iowa's juvenile justice institution.


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