Chicago College All-Star Game
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The Chicago Charities College All-Star Game was a preseason American football game played annually (except in 1974) from 1934 to 1976 between the National Football League champions and a team of star college seniors from the previous year. It was also known as the College All-Star Football Classic. After the AFL-NFL Championship was introduced, including for the two seasons before the "Super Bowl" designation was officially adopted and the remaining two seasons before the NFL/AFL merger, the Super Bowl winner was the professional team involved, regardless of which league the team represented. Thus, the New York Jets played in the 1969 edition, although still an AFL team. The second game in 1935 involved the hometown Chicago Bears, runner-up in 1934, instead of the defending champion New York Giants.
History of the game
The game was the idea of Arch Ward, the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and the driving force behind baseball's All-Star Game. The game originally was a benefit for Chicago-area charities and was always played at Soldier Field, with the exception of two years during World War II (1943 and 1944) when it was held at Northwestern University's Dyche Stadium in Evanston.
The Chicago game was one of several "pro vs. rookie" college all-star games held across the United States in its early years (the 1939 season featured seven such games, all of which the NFL teams won in shutouts, and the season prior featured eight, with some of the collegiate players playing in multiple games); Chicago's game had the benefit of being the highest profile, with the NFL champions facing the best college graduates from across the country (as opposed to the regional games that were held elsewhere). Because of this, the game survived far longer than its contemporaries.
The inaugural game in 1934, played before a crowd of 79,432 on August 31, was a scoreless tie between the all-stars and the Chicago Bears. The following year, in a game that included University of Michigan graduate and future president Gerald Ford, the Bears won 5–0. The first all-star team to win was the 1937 squad, coached by Gus Dorais, which won 6–0 over Curly Lambeau's Green Bay Packers. The only score came on a 47-yard touchdown pass from future Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh to Gaynell Tinsley. Baugh's Washington Redskins lost to the All-Stars the next year; he did not play due to injury.
In the 1940s, the games were competitive affairs that attracted large crowds to Soldier Field. The college all-stars had the benefit of being fully integrated, since the NFL's league-wide color barrier did not apply to the squad; as such, black players such as Kenny Washington (who played in the 1940 contest) were allowed to play in the game. As the talent level of pro football improved (and the NFL itself integrated), the pros came to dominate the series. The all-stars last won consecutive games in 1946 and 1947 but won just four of the final 29 games. The Philadelphia Eagles fell in 1950, the Cleveland Browns in 1955, and the Detroit Lions in 1958. The last all-star win came in 1963, when a college team coached by legendary quarterback Otto Graham beat Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, 20–17. In 1949, Ward, who by this time had founded the competing All-America Football Conference, attempted to have that league's champion (the perennially winning Browns) play that year's game instead of the NFL, but the NFL strong-armed the Tribune board into overruling him and renewing its agreement with the NFL.
By the 1970s, enthusiasm for the game started to erode. Additionally, NFL coaches had become increasingly reluctant to let their new draftees play in the exhibition. Not only would they miss part of training camp, but the draftees would have been at considerable risk for injury (as early as 1949, these concerns had been raised, after Dick Rifenburg suffered a career-ending injury practicing for the game, effectively ending his professional career before it began and prompting Rifenburg's move into broadcasting). A player's strike forced the cancellation of the 1974 game; although the league went forward with the rest of its preseason, they needed access to as many rookies as possible for replacement players (both to replace the striking veterans and the players who defected to the World Football League) and could not spare any for the college all-stars.
The finale took place in 1976 during a downpour at Soldier Field on July 23. Despite featuring stars such as Chuck Muncie, Mike Pruitt, Lee Roy Selmon, and Jackie Slater, the all-stars were hopelessly outmatched by the Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of Super Bowl X. The star quarterback for the College All-Stars was Steeler draft pick Mike Kruczek, out of Boston College. Late in the third quarter, with the Steelers leading 24–0, high winds prompted all-star coach Ara Parseghian to call time out. Fans began pouring out onto the field and sliding on the turf. With the rain getting harder, the officials ordered both teams to their locker rooms. All attempts to clear the field failed; the fans even tore down the goalposts. However, by this time the rain had become so heavy that the field would have been unplayable even if order had been restored. Finally, at 11:01 pm NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and the Tribune announced that the game had been called. The news was greeted with jeers, and numerous brawls broke out on the flooded field before order was finally restored. Joe Washington of Oklahoma was selected MVP of this final College All-Star game.
Chicago Tribune Charities had every intention of staging a 1977 game. However, with coaches increasingly unwilling to let their high draft picks play and insurance costs on the rise due to higher player salaries, the Tribune announced on December 21, 1976, that the game would be discontinued.
In the 42 College All-Star Games, the defending pro champions won 31, the All-Stars won nine, and two were ties, giving the collegians a .238 winning percentage.
One aspect of the College All-Star Game was later revived. The concept of the league champion playing in the first game of the season was adopted in 2004 for the National Football League Kickoff game; in that game, the first game of the regular season is hosted by the defending Super Bowl champion.
The game raised over $4 million for charity over the course of its 42-game run.
|Date played||Winning team||Losing team||Attendance|
|August 31, 1934||College All-Stars||0||Chicago Bears||0||79,432|
|August 29, 1935||Chicago Bears||5||College All-Stars||0||77,450|
|September 2, 1936||College All-Stars||7||Detroit Lions||7||76,000|
|September 1, 1937||College All-Stars||6||Green Bay Packers||0||84,560|
|August 31, 1938||College All-Stars||28||Washington Redskins||16||74,250|
|August 30, 1939||New York Giants||9||College All-Stars||0||81,456|
|August 29, 1940||Green Bay Packers||45||College All-Stars||28||84,567|
|August 28, 1941||Chicago Bears||37||College All-Stars||13||98,203|
|August 28, 1942||Chicago Bears||21||College All-Stars||0||101,103|
|August 28, 1943||College All-Stars||27||Washington Redskins||7||48,437|
|August 30, 1944||Chicago Bears||24||College All-Stars||21||49,246|
|August 30, 1945||Green Bay Packers||19||College All-Stars||7||92,753|
|August 23, 1946||College All-Stars||16||Los Angeles Rams||0||97,380|
|August 23, 1947||College All-Stars||16||Chicago Bears||0||105,840|
|August 22, 1948||Chicago Cardinals||28||College All-Stars||0||101,220|
|August 22, 1949||Philadelphia Eagles||38||College All-Stars||0||93,780|
|August 11, 1950||College All-Stars||17||Philadelphia Eagles||7||88,885|
|August 17, 1951||Cleveland Browns||33||College All-Stars||0||92,180|
|August 15, 1952||Los Angeles Rams||10||College All-Stars||7||88,316|
|August 14, 1953||Detroit Lions||24||College All-Stars||10||93,818|
|August 13, 1954||Detroit Lions||31||College All-Stars||6||93,470|
|August 12, 1955||College All-Stars||30||Cleveland Browns||27||75,000|
|August 10, 1956||Cleveland Browns||26||College All-Stars||0||75,000|
|August 9, 1957||New York Giants||22||College All-Stars||12||75,000|
|August 15, 1958||College All-Stars||35||Detroit Lions||19||70,000|
|August 14, 1959||Baltimore Colts||29||College All-Stars||0||70,000|
|August 12, 1960||Baltimore Colts||32||College All-Stars||7||70,000|
|August 4, 1961||Philadelphia Eagles||28||College All-Stars||14||66,000|
|August 3, 1962||Green Bay Packers||42||College All-Stars||20||65,000|
|August 2, 1963||College All-Stars||20||Green Bay Packers||17||65,000|
|August 7, 1964||Chicago Bears||28||College All-Stars||17||65,000|
|August 6, 1965||Cleveland Browns||24||College All-Stars||16||68,000|
|August 5, 1966||Green Bay Packers||38||College All-Stars||0||72,000|
|August 4, 1967||Green Bay Packers||27||College All-Stars||0||70,934|
|August 2, 1968||Green Bay Packers||34||College All-Stars||17||69,917|
|August 1, 1969||New York Jets||26||College All-Stars||24||74,208|
|July 31, 1970||Kansas City Chiefs||24||College All-Stars||3||69,940|
|July 30, 1971||Baltimore Colts||24||College All-Stars||17||52,289|
|July 28, 1972||Dallas Cowboys||20||College All-Stars||7||54,162|
|July 27, 1973||Miami Dolphins||14||College All-Stars||3||54,103|
|July 26, 1974||Canceled due to 1974 NFL strike
Game was originally scheduled between the Miami Dolphins and College All-Stars
|August 1, 1975||Pittsburgh Steelers||21||College All-Stars||14||54,562|
|July 23, 19761||Pittsburgh Steelers||24||College All-Stars||0||52,095|
The Most Valuable Player award was given from 1938 through 1973 and was always awarded to a player on the College All-Stars
|1938||Cecil Isbell||Running back||Purdue|
|1939||Bill Osmanski||Running back||Holy Cross|
|1940||Ambrose Schindler||Running back||USC|
|1941||George Franck||Running back||Minnesota|
|1942||Bruce Smith||Running back||Minnesota|
|1943||Pat Harder||Running back||Wisconsin|
|1944||Glenn Dobbs||Running back||Tulsa|
|1946||Elroy Hirsch||Running back||Wisconsin|
|1947||Claude Young||Running back||Illinois|
|1948||Jay Rodemeyer||Running back||Kentucky|
|1949||Bill Fischer||Offensive lineman||Notre Dame|
|1950||Charlie Justice||Running back||North Carolina|
|1954||Carlton Massey||Defensive end||Texas|
|1955||Ralph Guglielmi||Quarterback||Notre Dame|
|1958||Bobby Mitchell||Halfback/Wide receiver||Illinois|
|Jim Ninowski||Quarterback||Michigan State|
|1959||Bob Ptacek||Running back||Michigan|
|1963||Ron Vander Kelen||Quarterback||Wisconsin|
|1964||Charley Taylor||Wide receiver||Arizona State|
|1965||John Huarte||Quarterback||Notre Dame|
|1967||Charles Smith||Defensive end||Michigan State|
|1968||Larry Csonka||Running back||Syracuse|
|1970||Bruce Taylor||Defensive back||Boston University|
|1971||Richard Harris||Defensive end||Grambling State|
|1973||Ray Guy||Punter||Southern Mississippi|
- Pro Bowl, the AFC-NFC all-star game
- Playoff Bowl, another discontinued annual NFL game
- Pro Football Hall of Fame Game
- Grogan, John (2000). "The College All-Star Football Classic" (PDF). The Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 22 (2). Archived (PDF) from the original on January 30, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
- Kuechle, Oliver E. (September 2, 1937). "Sam Baugh's pass, stalwart defense give Stars 6-0 victory over Packers". Milwaukee Journal. p. 5-part 2.
- "Isbell sparks rally as All-Stars beat Redskins in second half". Milwaukee Journal. September 1, 1938. p. 6-part 2.
- Kuechle, Oliver E. (August 12, 1950). "College stars spring startling upset". Milwaukee Journal. p. 6.
- "All-Stars beat Browns 30-27". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. August 13, 1955. p. 7.
- Johnson, Chuck (August 16, 1958). "Grid All-Stars slay inept Detroit Lions". Milwaukee Journal. p. 12.
- Lea, Bud (August 3, 1963). "All-Stars upset Packers". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2-part 2.
- The NFL's Official Encyclopedic History of Professional Football, 1977: The AAFC, pgs. 245-251
- Harmon, Pat (1949-08-10). "Short-Sighted Pros". Cedar Rapids Gazette.
- "Rampaging fans, rain shorten all-star game". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. July 24, 1976. p. 3B.
- Shepard, Terry (July 24, 1976). "Rain and fans do in players". Milwaukee Journal. p. 10.
- "Game ended by Tribune". Milwaukee Journal. December 22, 1976. p. 10-part 2.
- "College All-Star Game: A Charity Dies". Evening Independent. Chicago Tribune. December 22, 1967. p. 1-C. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
- The History of the Chicago Charities College All-Star Game
- Hibner, John C. (1986). "The Death of an All-star Game" (PDF). The Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association (1986 PFRA Annual). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
- List of game results from Hickok Sports.