George Ratterman

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George Ratterman
GeorgeRatterman1952Bowman.jpg
Date of birth: November 12, 1926
Place of birth: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Date of death: November 3, 2007 (aged 80)
Place of death: Centennial, Colorado, United States
Career information
Position(s): Quarterback
College: Notre Dame
NFL Draft: 1948 / Round: 16 / Pick 139
(By the Boston Yanks)
Organizations
As player:
1947-1949
1950-1951
1951
1952-1956
Buffalo Bills (AAFC)
New York Yanks
Montreal Alouettes
Cleveland Browns
Career stats
Playing stats at DatabaseFootball.com

George William Ratterman (November 12, 1926 – November 3, 2007) was an American Football player in the All-America Football Conference and the National Football League.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1944.[1] He played college football at the University of Notre Dame from 1944 through 1946, primarily as a backup to quarterbacks Frank Dancewicz and Johnny Lujack. He was the last of only four students in Notre Dame history to earn letters in four different sports (football, basketball, baseball, tennis). Legendary football coach Frank Leahy called him "the greatest all-around athlete in the history of Notre Dame."

Professional football career[edit]

He played professional football with the Buffalo Bills of the AAFC from 1947 to 1949, when the league merged with the NFL. In his first year, 1947, at the age of 20, Ratterman threw 22 touchdown passes, setting a professional football rookie record that stood for more than twenty years. He continued his career with the New York Yanks of the NFL in 1950 and 1951, the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in 1951 and finished with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL from 1952 through 1956. He led the NFL in TD passes in 1950 while playing for New York. In 1956, he became the Browns' starting quarterback, succeeding Otto Graham, and was first player in the history of football to wear a radio receiver in his helmet, which allowed Cleveland Coach Paul Brown to call plays using a microphone instead of sending in messenger players for each play. Ratterman was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, October 8, 1956. A leg injury on October 21, 1956, ended his football career.

Post-playing career activities[edit]

General counsel for the American Football League Players Association[edit]

He earned his law degree in 1956 and was admitted to practice in Ohio and Kentucky. He acted as general counsel for the American Football League Players Association in the mid-1960s, when Jack Kemp was the president of the union.

Campaign for sheriff of Campbell County, Kentucky[edit]

On May 9, 1961, while campaigning as a candidate for sheriff of Campbell County, Kentucky, he was drugged with chloral hydrate and put in bed with stripper April Flowers in an attempt to blackmail him and force him to drop from the race. The plot was uncovered, and publicity from the botched frame-up attempt catapulted him and his party to victory in the election. While sheriff, with cooperation from federal agents and personal interest of then-U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, he was able to rid the county, and particularly the city of Newport, of gambling, prostitution and vice businesses that had dominated the area since the Civil War.

Confessions of a Gypsy Quarterback[edit]

He is the author of a book, Confessions of a Gypsy Quarterback, Coward-McCann, 1962, containing hilarious anecdotes of his experiences and hi-jinks in professional football. In the foreword, Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham says Ratterman was the "best natural clown and comic I ever saw in professional football." In one story, during a game while Ratterman was in a game for the Browns and stern Coach Brown was sending in the plays from the bench using his messenger guard system, Ratterman told the guard who came in with the play call to "go back and get another one" because Ratterman "didn't like that play." The guard, a rookie named Joe Skibinski, obediently turned to run back to the bench and Coach Brown before Ratterman and other players stopped him.

He was an unsuccessful candidate for county judge and United States Congress in the 1960s.

Broadcasting career[edit]

He worked as a color commentator on TV and radio broadcasts of AFL and NFL football games for ABC-TV (1960-1964) and NBC-TV (1965-1973). He was frequently paired with Jack Buck and Charlie Jones on broadcast teams.

Death[edit]

Ratterman died in Centennial, Colorado, on November 3, 2007, from complications of Alzheimer's Disease.[2] He and his wife of 59 years, Anne, had ten children.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Welcome to the St. Xavier Athletic Hall of Fame". St. Xavier High School. Retrieved 2007-02-08. [dead link]
  2. ^ Goldstein, Richard (November 10, 2007). "George Ratterman, Football Star and Sheriff, Dies at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 

External links[edit]

The Great Kentucky Scandal by Bill Davidson Look Magazine, October 24, 1961, [1]

Preceded by
Al Dekdebrun
Buffalo Bills (AAFC) Starting Quarterbacks
1947 – 1949
Succeeded by
Franchise Ends