Hirsch from 1944
Date of birth:
June 17, 1923
Place of birth: Wausau, Wisconsin
Date of death: January 28, 2004
Place of death: Madison, Wisconsin
6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
190 lb (86 kg)
1945 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 1957
Rushing TDs: 3
Player stats at
Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch (June 17, 1923 – January 28, 2004) was an American football running back and receiver for the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Rockets, nicknamed for his unusual running style.
Early life [ edit ]
Hirsch was born in
Wausau, Wisconsin to German-Norwegian parents. He developed his running style running cross legged over four square cement sidewalk blocks in his home town. [1 ] Hirsch played for legendary coach [2 ] Win Brockmeyer during his time at Wausau High School.
Hirsch played his first college season with the
University of Wisconsin Badgers (UW) in 1942. His nickname was permanently affixed to him by sportswriter Chicago Daily News Francis J. Powers who, upon witnessing him play for the Badgers against the Great Lakes Naval Station in 1942, wrote "His crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions, all at the same time; he looked like a demented duck." [3 ]
His commitment to the
United States Navy V-12 program in United States Marine Corps required him to transfer to the University of Michigan. He played two intercollegiate football seasons for the Michigan Wolverines where during the 1943-44 year he earned the distinction of being the only athlete at the school to letter in four sports (football, basketball, track and baseball) in a single year. He was inducted into the [4 ] College Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
Hirsch was drafted by the
Chicago Rockets of the All-America Football Conference, where he played from 1946 to 1948, in three injury-prone seasons. After the Rockets and the AAFC merged with the NFL, he joined the Los Angeles Rams through 1957, where he gained his fame.
Clark Shaughnessy made Hirsch the first full-time "flanker" in NFL history, splitting the talented receiver outside from his previous halfback position. Additionally, he was one of the first to sport the molded plastic helmet that is the industry standard today. Coach Shaughnessy fitted it for him as a precaution because he was injured when first joining the Rams. When playing for Chicago in an All-America game against the Cleveland Browns, Hirsch was tackled so badly that his right knee ligaments were torn. He also suffered a fractured skull above his right ear. [5 ]
Hirsch was key to the Los Angeles Rams 1951
NFL championship season, with a record 1,495 yards receiving, a record that stood for 19 years. He also had 66 catches, and 17 touchdowns that same year in 12 games. [2 ]
Later years [ edit ]
Hirsch served as the
Director of Athletics for the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1969 to 1987. Within four years, he had raised home attendance at football games from 43,000 to 70,000. During his tenure as athletic director, the number of sports offered by the UW athletics department doubled and the Badgers won national titles in ice hockey, men's and women's crew, and men's and women's cross country. [4 ]
Hirsch died of natural causes at an
assisted living home in Madison, Wisconsin on January 28, 2004. [2 ]
Hirsch was inducted into the
Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968 with a career 387 receptions, 7,029 yards, and 60 touchdowns. He had earlier been elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1964.
He was named to the NFL all-time all-star team.
In 1999, he was ranked number 89 on
list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. The Sporting News'
He was elected to the
University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1984.
The University of Wisconsin retired his number 40. It was added to the facade of
Camp Randall Stadium on October 28, 2006.
For his contribution to sports in Los Angeles, he was honored with a
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum "Court of Honor" plaque by the Coliseum commissioners.
Each spring since 1981, the
Crazylegs Classic, an 8-kilometer race leading through downtown Madison and the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, has been held in his honor. Proceeds benefit the University of Wisconsin Athletics Department. [6 ]
In popular culture [ edit ]
Hirsch starred in the eponymous
film of his life in 1953, . He also starred in the movies Crazylegs and Unchained , a 1957 Zero Hour! airline disaster movie.
He guest-starred as himself in the April 8, 1965, episode of
along with The Munsters Leo Durocher.
References [ edit ]
^  "Elroy was born in Wausau on June 17, 1923. His adoptive parents, Otto and Mayme Hirsch were German–Norwegians, his father a worker in a local iron works."
^ a b c Wallace, William N. (January 29, 2004). "Crazylegs Hirsch, 80, Rams' Big-Play Receiver, Is Dead". New York Times . Retrieved . May 24, 2015
^ Anderson, Dave (2005). University of Wisconsin Football. Arcadia Publishing. p. 61.
^ a b Ross, J. R. (January 31, 2004). "Elroy 'Crazy Legs' Hirsch; Rams player had running style". The Boston Globe . Retrieved . 2009-09-25
^ Michael MacCambridge, "America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation", p. 64.
^ "Crazylegs Classic" . Retrieved . 2009-09-25
External links [ edit ]
Pete Rozelle, George Halas, Art Rooney 1979:
Paul Brown, Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski 1980:
Don Shula, Wellington Mara, Dominic Olejniczak, Pro Football Hall of Fame 1981:
Lamar Hunt, Tom Landry 1982:
William Bidwill, Alex Wojciechowicz, Bud Grant 1983:
F. William Harder, LeRoy Neiman 1985:
George P. Marshall, Weeb Ewbank 1986:
Howard Cosell, Vince Lombardi, Vic Maitland 1987:
Ray Scott, Steve Sabol, Ed Sabol, Bert Bell 1988:
Raymond Berry 1989:
Tex Schramm 1990:
Bill Dudley, Ollie Matson, Steve Van Buren 1991:
Hugh McElhenny 1992: Chuck Bednarik, Art Modell 1993:
Elroy Hirsch, Marion Motley 1994:
Sid Luckman, Sammy Baugh 1995:
Otto Graham, Chuck Noll 1996:
Johnny Unitas, Curt Gowdy 1997:
Pat Summerall, Ralph Wilson 1998:
Jim Brown, Al Davis 1999:
Bobby Mitchell, Paul Tagliabue 2000:
Len Dawson, Deacon Jones 2001:
Mike McCormack, Mel Renfro 2002:
Mel Blount, Jim Otto, Jim Tunney 2003:
Tom Flores, Willie Davis 2004:
Dick Vermeil, Val Pinchbeck, Don Weiss 2005:
Larry Wilson, Joe Greene 2007:
Sonny Jurgensen, Jack Youngblood 2008:
Eric Dickerson, John Madden, Alex Spanos