Cowan during his Indiana University career
|No. 17, 80|
|Date of birth:||January 2, 1923|
|Place of birth:||Fort Wayne, Indiana|
|Date of death:||January 20, 2004(aged 81)|
|Place of death:||Fort Wayne, Indiana|
|Height:||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight:||185 lb (84 kg)|
|High school:||Fort Wayne (IN) North Side|
|NFL Draft:||1945 / Round: 12 / Pick: 111|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Robert George Cowan (January 2, 1923 – January 20, 2004) was an American football halfback who played three seasons in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) between 1947 and 1949. Cowan played for the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Colts.
Cowan was a standout track and football athlete at his Fort Wayne, Indiana high school. He attended Indiana University and starred as a halfback for two years, interrupted by service in the Army Air Force during World War II. Cowan joined the Browns in 1947, when the team won the AAFC championship. Cleveland won all of its games in 1948 and beat the Buffalo Bills in the championship game. Cowan was sent to the Colts for the 1949 season, but he was slowed by a knee injury and left the game a year later. He became a high school principal in Fort Wayne after his playing career.
High school and college career
Cowan grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana and was a star athlete at the city's North Side High School. He failed to place first just once in the 220-yard dash during his high school track career. Cowan came in second in his only loss at a state track meet in his sophomore year. He had times of 9.9 seconds in the 100-yard dash, under 22 seconds in the 220 and 49 seconds in the 440. Cowan's football team lost only twice in four years at North Side. The team went unbeaten in his senior year, and Cowan broke a state high school scoring record with 155 points playing as a right halfback.
Cowan attended Indiana University starting in 1941. He became the football team's starting right halfback in the middle of the following year, his sophomore season. Cowan also played basketball at Indiana, and was spotted during a state tournament in 1941 by Blanton Collier, who went on to become an assistant coach for the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC).
Cowan joined the Army Air Force in 1943 and served in World War II as part of the ground crew at various military bases and at Okinawa. He played in 1944 for the service basketball team at a Salt Lake City, Utah base called the Air Base Wings. After the war, he returned to Indiana and played part of the 1946 season at right halfback. His best game for Indiana came against the Rose Bowl champion Illinois, when he caught a pass for a 37-yard touchdown and helped set up a second touchdown with a run as the Hoosiers won by seven points.
Professional football career
Cowan was selected by the Chicago Cardinals in the 1945 NFL Draft. The war delayed his professional career, however, and he signed in 1947 with the Browns, who selected him in the AAFC player draft. Cowan won a spot on the roster alongside fellow Fort Wayne native and Indiana graduate Bill Boedeker. The Browns finished the season with a 12–1–1 record and won the AAFC championship game against the New York Yankees. After the season, he returned to Indiana to finish his final semester and get a degree.
Cowan returned to the Browns in 1948. The team won all of its games that year, beating the Buffalo Bills in the championship game. Cowan, however, lost his job as the starting right halfback late in the season to Dub Jones. He was sent to the Baltimore Colts before the 1949 season. Bothered by a knee injury, Cowan left football after a year in Baltimore.
Later life and death
- Sauerbrei, Harold (August 3, 1947). "Paul Brown Finds Out About Cowan". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Bowling Green, O. p. 19.
- "Air Base Courtiers Expect Much Trouble With Utes Saturday Night". The Deseret News. February 10, 1944. p. 10. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- Piascik 2007, p. 81.
- Piascik 2007, p. 121.
- Sauerbrei, Harold (November 8, 1948). "Browns Subdue Colts, 28-7; Twelfth Straight League Victory Sets Record". Cleveland Plain Dealer. p. 21.
- Hickey, William (December 3, 1965). "This Sporting Life". Cleveland Plain Dealer. p. 37.
- "Bob Cowan NFL Football Statistics". Pro Football Reference. Archived from the original on October 7, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- ""United States Social Security Death Index," Robert G Cowan, 2004". Familysearch.org. Archived from the original on October 7, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012.