|Date of birth||May 9, 1922|
|Place of birth||Los Angeles, California|
|Date of death||February 6, 2010(aged 87)|
|Place of death||Mount Holly Township, New Jersey|
|NFL draft||1947 / Round: 20 / Pick 181
(By the Green Bay Packers)
|1949||New York Yankees (AAFC)|
|1950–1951||New York Yanks|
|Career highlights and awards|
Bradford Sterling Ecklund (May 9, 1922 – February 6, 2010 ) was a center in the AAFC and in the National Football League. He was chosen twice (1950, 1951) to play in the Pro Bowl. He was born in Los Angeles and died in Mount Holly Township, New Jersey.
As a senior in high school at Milwaukie, Oregon, Ecklund was named to the Metro all-star team at fullback. He was a four-sport star—in baseball, track, basketball, and football—and was drafted by the Philadelphia Athletics, but turned down baseball for a scholarship at Oregon.
He never played for a team—frosh, varsity, military or Oregon—that he wasn't named captain of. And he never played in a league where he wasn't named on the all-conference team—at fullback in high school, in college or as a professional.
Ecklund matriculated at Oregon in 1941, expecting to play fullback. But the Webfoots were loaded in the backfield, and weak up front. Coach Tex Oliver moved the massive Ecklund to center during fall camp. By the first game, at Stanford, he was first string. He started every game, but flunked out of school.
When World War II erupted, Ecklund joined the Marine Corps, and took up boxing for fun. He became the Marine Corps Golden Gloves champion. He played for the Naval Air Station football team in Jacksonville, Florida for two years, before being dispatched for overseas duty at Okinawa.
He learned what it meant to be a member of team in the South Pacific, fighting in interminable battles from island to island. "I was in the second wave," he said in 1993. "It was the guys in the first wave who got their butts shot up."
The man one sportswriter called "the indestructible giant" returned to Oregon in '46, and picked up where he left off. "By being four years in the service, they forgave me" for flunking out, he said. "When I came back, I never made less than a B average. I'd matured and realized what I almost lost."
In the next three years, playing both sides of the line, he averaged over 50 minutes per game. He was All-PCC in 1946, 1947 and 1948. On Oregon's 1948 team, Ecklund played all 60 minutes of five games—Stanford, USC, Michigan, St Mary's and Washington—and was only knocked out of one game all year, when an Idaho player kicked him in the head 4 minutes into the 3rd quarter. He graduated from Oregon in 1949 with degrees in health and physical education.
He passed up a contract offer from the Green Bay Packers, choosing to join the upstart All-America Football Conference's New York Yankees for more money. He stayed with the team after the AAFC-NFL merger, through its sale and relocation to Dallas, then signed with the Baltimore Colts. In 1953, Ecklund was named the most valuable offensive lineman of the Colts, an honor for which he received all of $100. Having achieved that career milestone, he quit the team and returned to Oregon to coach high school football.
Ecklund was an assistant to Len Casanova's late-1950s Oregon teams, then jumped to the NFL in 1960, where Tom Landry gave him his first coaching gig with the new Dallas Cowboys. He moved to the new Atlanta team in 1966, where he coached under his former Oregon teammate Norm Van Brocklin, and later coached at New Orleans, Philadelphia and Chicago.
A member of the Screen Actors Guild, having earned a role in the movie North Dallas Forty, Ecklund also did some acting in TV commercials and appearances as John Wayne's look-alike while residing in Los Angeles.
Ecklund retired from coaching in 1979, and spent most of the rest of his working life as a substitute teacher in the Philadelphia area as well as the Southern California area in the 1981 specifically in Orange, California.
In 1999, Brad Ecklund was named University of Oregon "Lineman of the Century."
Ecklund was a charter member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.
- "Brad Ecklund '49". University of Oregon Alumni Association. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
- Vargas, Claudia. "Brad Ecklund, former NFL player, coach", The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 10, 2010. Accessed February 28, 2011. "Brad Ecklund, 87, of Vincentown, a former NCAA and NFL football player who coached the Eagles' offensive line in the 1970s, died Saturday of congestive heart failure at Samaritan Hospice in Mount Holly."