|Date of birth:||August 22, 1909|
|Place of birth:||Redding, California|
|Date of death:||January 31, 1992(aged 82)|
|Place of death:||San Clemente, California|
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||225 lb (102 kg)|
|High school:||Burlington (WA)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Melvin Jack Hein (August 22, 1909 – January 31, 1992) was an American football player for the New York Giants. Hein played fifteen seasons for the Giants (1931–45) and never missed a down due to injury. He is the first player and only offensive lineman to win the NFL MVP award (1938) and he helped the Giants win the championship that season.
Hein was part of the first inductee class into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. In 1969, he was named the center on the NFL 50th Anniversary Team, and was named to the 75th Anniversary Team in 1994. In 1999, despite 55 years having passed since his last game, he was ranked number 74 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
Born in Redding, California, Mel Hein was raised in Burlington, Washington, and played high school football for the Burlington Tigers (now Burlington-Edison High School), where he played center and defensive line positions. In his senior season in 1926, Hein earned the Skagit County Football MVP, the highest award for a prep player in the Skagit Valley in those days, and was also named to the all-state team. It has been said he is the first professional athlete to hail from the state of Washington. Hein is known for wearing jersey number 7 in college and the pros, but it is unknown what jersey number he wore in high school, if any. Hein is also a charter member of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA). He also excelled in basketball for the Tigers as a center.
A consensus pick as the greatest center in football, Hein was the first player to have his famous No. 7 retired at Washington State University. An All-American pick following the 1930 season, Hein helped lead the Cougars to an undefeated record that year and into the 1931 Rose Bowl game against Alabama. WSU lost that game 24–0, but WSU's record in Hein's three varsity seasons was 26–6 (.813). Hein was an All-America selection as a senior in 1930 and was an All-West Coast pick after having been named to the All-Coast second team as a junior. At WSU, he also played center during his junior year on the Cougar basketball team.
Hein signed a contract with the New York Giants, married his college sweetheart, and packed all of their belongings into a 1929 Ford and drove from Pullman to New York. He played for 15 years as a center and a defensive lineman. Hein was an All-NFL Center 1933–1940. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton as a charter member in the summer of 1963. Hein was also inducted as a charter member into the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978, and was the first alumni athlete inducted into the new Burlington-Edison High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006. Add to all of these, his membership into the Washington State Sports Hall of Fame and the Inland Empire Sports Hall of Fame. His jersey number 7 was retired by his college and professional teams, the WSU Cougars and New York Giants.
Eight times an All-Pro center, Hein was the NFL's MVP in 1938 – as a center in his eighth year in the league. The Giants' great No. 7 was the center of two NFL Championship teams—in 1934 (NYG 30, Chicago 13) and again in 1938 (NYG 23, Green Bay 17). Hein was a member of five losing teams in the NFL Championship,—1933, 1935, 1939, 1941, and 1944.
Hein had planned to retire after a dozen years in the NFL and become the head coach at Union College in Schenectady, New York. When the football program went on hiatus due to World War II, Hein returned to the Giants on weekends for three more seasons and retired after the 1945 season.
Following his playing days, Hein coached a year at Union in 1946, then was an assistant with the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1947 and 1948, and the New York Yankees in 1949, their final season. In 1950, he coached the line for the Los Angeles Rams and then had a long run as an assistant coach at the University of Southern California during the 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1969, Hein was voted one of the 11 all-time best professional and collegiate football players in a vote conducted in conjunction with professional football's Centennial celebration.
The Washington State University Board of Regents honored Hein May 14, 1983, with its Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest award bestowed a Cougar alum. Hein is also a charter member of The College Hall of Fame, one of two WSU Cougars honored by the National Football Foundation.
- Missildine, Harry (October 10, 1976). "The all-time Cougar – Mel Hein". Spokesman-Review. p. 1, sports.
- "Alabama swamps Cougars under in Rose Bowl game 24–0". Palm Beach Post. Associated Press. January 2, 1931. p. 3.
- "Mel Hein signs contract to play pro football with New York Giants this year". Spokane Daily Chronicle. May 30, 1931. p. 12.
- "Mel Hein to wed Pullman co-ed". Spokane Daily Chronicle. August 15, 1931. p. 12.
- "Changes in pro football for better says Mel Hein". Spokesman-Review. November 20, 1966. p. 2, sports.
- Gottehrer. pg. 86
- "Mel Hein to coach Union". Deseret News. Associated Press. June 22, 1942. p. 9.
- Anderson, Dave (February 3, 1992). "Hein a Giant figure in football's history". Spokane Chronicle. (New York Times). p. C1.
- "Mel Hein plans to quit pro football". The Daily Times (Beaver, Pennsylvania). United Press. January 10, 1946. p. 8.
- "Mel Hein new line coach of Los Angeles Rams". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. March 4, 1950. p. 8.