Football - 1951 Bowman HOF: Secretariat Image Gallery
Thomas Jesse Fears (December 3, 1922 - January 4, 2000) (WR/E) became the first true wide receiver when he lined up on the line of scrimmage but away from the tackle. The Los Angeles Rams took the two-time All-American from UCLA as a defensive back in the 11th round of the 1945 NFL Draft and converted him into an offensive threat at the wide receiver/flanker position when he joined the team in 1948. Fears spent three years in the military during World War II before joining the Rams, where he played his entire career (1948-1956). Tom took the NFL by storm as he led the league in receptions in his first three seasons (1948-1950) as well as leading the league in receiving yards (1,116) in his third season and second consecutive campaign with over 1,000 yards. The 1950 season proved to be his finest as he averaged 93.0 yards per game and was rewarded with selections to the NFL Pro Bowl and the NFL All-Pro First Team. Fears helped lead the Rams to the 1951 NFL League Championship over the Cleveland Browns scoring the game winning touchdown on a 13-yard reception followed by a 60 yards run to score. Tom Fears finished his playing career with 5,397 receiving yards, 400 receptions and 38 receiving touchdowns. He had 5,412 all-purpose yards, 249 points on 39 all-purpose TDs, 12 extra points and one field goal while intercepting two passes and recovering one fumble. Following his playing career, Fears served as a coach for five different teams and was the head coach of the New Orleans Saints from 1967-1970. He compiled an NFL head coaching record of 13-34-2 in 49 games. Tom Fears was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976.
Yelberton Abraham “Y.A.” Tittle (October 24, 1926 - October 8, 2017) (QB) is represented in one of the most iconic images in the history of the national Football League, kneeling in the end zone after a thunderous hit by John Baker of the Pittsburgh Steelers that concussed the quarterback and fractured his sternum. Tittle played college ball at Louisiana State University where he led the Tigers to the 1947 Cotton Bowl Classic and was named the game’s MVP. The soon-to-be defunct Baltimore Colts of the All-America Football Conference in the 1948 NFL Draft. He played for the Colts (1948-1949), joined the new Baltimore Colts of the NFL (1950), and then joined the San Francisco 49ers for the next ten seasons (1951-1960). Tittle was named the 1957 NFL Most Valuable Player as he led the league in completions (176) and completion percentage (63.1) and amassed 2,157 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. Y.A. led the NFL once in passing attempts, twice in completions and three times in touchdown passes including back-to-back 30+ touchdowns performances in 1962 and 1963. Tittle fought throughout his career for the starting quarterback position, with Frankie Albert and John Brodie in San Francisco and Charlie Conerly with the New York Giants. He was named the NFL’s MVP on three more occasions (1961-1963). He was a three-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and was named to seven NFL All-Pro First Teams. When he joined New York to finish his career (1961-1964) he led the Giants to three consecutive NFL League Championship games (1961-1963). Y.A. retired after the 1964 season with 33,070 passing yards, 2,427 completions in 4,395 attempts and 242 touchdowns. In all, Tittle scored 234 points on 39 rushing touchdowns and threw 248 interceptions. Y.A. Tittle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
Samuel Adrian “Slingin’ Sammy” Baugh (March 17, 1914 - December 17, 2008) (QB/DB/P) signed a contract to play for the St. Louis Cardinals, straight out of Texas Christian University, but eventually quit baseball in favor if football due to his position on the Cardinals depth chart. Slingin’ Sammy was a two-time All-American in 1935 and 1936 and the Washington Redskins drafted him as the sixth pick overall in the first round of the 1937 NFL Draft. Baugh redefined the quarterback position by utilizing the forward pass and setting an NFL record in his rookie season with 91 completions in 218 attempts, for a league leading 1,127 yards. He earned his first of seven All-Pro selections during that 1937 campaign and drove his Washington Redskins team to the NFA Championship over the Chicago Bears. Sammy set an NFL rookie playoff passing record against the Bears with 355 yards. He led the Redskins to four more championship games (1940, 1942, 1943, 1945) capturing league title in 1942 and 1943. Sammy was a five-time All-Star selection, was elected to the 1951 Pro Bowl and named the NFL Player of the Year in 1947 and 1948. At the time of his retirement, Baugh had set 13 NFL records, two of which still stand – most seasons leading he league in passing (6) (shared with Steve Young) and most seasons leading the league in lowest interception percentage (5). Sammy retired after the 1952 seasons with 21,886 career yards, 1,693 completions in 2,995 attempts while adding 187 touchdowns and 203 interceptions. Sammy Baugh was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. Sammy spent time coaching in the American Football League after retiring from playing and could also be found acting on the big screen in 1941 in the serial King of the Texas Rangers.
Peter Louis Pihos (October 22, 1923 - August 16, 2011) (E/DE) was one of the greatest two-way players in the history of the game and most certainly during his era when the practice of playing both sides of the ball was the norm. Pihos helped Indiana University to a 9-0-1 record in 1945 en route to the 1945 Big Ten Championship. The Philadelphia Eagles took the All-American in the fifth round of the 1945 NFL Draft, but could not join the team until he fulfilled his military obligation. After his service in 1947, he immediately made an impact on the team and in his first season in Philadelphia, the Eagles reached the NFL championship game. He blocked a key punt in the division playoff game against the Steelers to help the Eagles rout Pittsburgh 21-0. Though Philadelphia lost the 1947 NFL Championship to the Chicago Cardinals, they avenged that loss in 1948 beating the Cardinals to capture their first of two consecutive league titles. Not blessed with super speed, Pihos possessed excellent hands and was elusive and agile making him one of the league best receivers during his nine-year career in Philadelphia (1947-1955). Three times, Pete led the NFL in receptions, twice in receiving yards and average yards per game and once in touchdowns. Pete Pihos was named to six NFL Pro Bowls and was an All-NFL First Team selection five times. Pete Pihos retired after the 1955 seasons with 5,619 receiving yards, 373 receptions and 61 receiving touchdowns in 107 games. In total, he scored 378 points on 63 TDs; with the addition of one fumble recovery returned for a touchdown and a punt return touchdown. Pete Pihos was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1966.
Louis Roy “Lou” Groza (January 25, 1924 - November 29, 2000) (K/OT/DT/C) was the last member from the original Cleveland Browns team of the All-America Football Conference when he retired in 1967. After playing one season for Ohio State University, Groza was drafted into the United States Army. Upon his discharge from the service, Lou joined the Cleveland Browns of the AAFC playing both sides of the ball as offensive tackle and placekicker. Groza played offensive tackle and placekicker for 14 seasons (1946-1959) with the Browns and briefly retired for a season before returning to Cleveland as strictly a places kicker for the remainder of his career (1961-1967. Lou Groza led the NFL in field goals made six times, field goal attempts six times, extra point attempts twice and extra points made three times. Dubbed “The Toe” for his unique kicking style, Groza frequently led his team in scoring. In the 1950 NFL League Championship game, Lou kicked a field goal with 30 seconds remaining to beat the Los Angeles Rams. Lou Groza played in 13 championship games in his career, capturing the league titles in THE four consecutive AAFC League title games (1946-1949) and four NFL League Championships (1950, 1954, 1955, 1964). Lou was named to nine NFL Pro Bowl appearances and was selected to four NFL All-Pro First Teams. Groza finished his career with 1,608 total points on 810 extra points, 264 field goals, and one touchdown in 268 games. Lou Groza was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
Fletcher Joseph “Joe” Perry (January 22, 1927 - April 25, 2011) (FB) was a member of San Francisco’s “Million Dollar Backfield,” of which all four players (Y.A. Tittle, John Henry Johnson, Hugh McElhenny) were enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Playing alongside future teammate McElhenny at Compton Junior College, Perry helped lead the Tartars to two consecutive national championships in 1946 and 1947. In 1948, Perry joined the 49ers at the fullback position bringing a powerful element not yet seen in the NFL. His incredible speed, elusiveness and durability made him a weapon that the Niners would utilize the fullest for years to come, spanning three decades. Perry played 16 years in the NFL with the 49ers (1948-1960, 1963) and the Baltimore Colts (1961-1962). “The Jet,” as he was called, led the NFL three times in rushing and was the first player in history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in two straight seasons. He also led the league three times in rushing touchdowns, twice in rushing attempts and yards from scrimmage and once in total TDs (rushing and receiving). In 1954, Joe was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player on the back of 1,018 rushing yards, 192 rushing attempts and ten touchdowns. Perry received three NFL Pro Bowl selections and was twice named to the NFL’s All-Pro First Team. Joe Perry finished his career as the all-time leading rusher with 9,723 yards, 1,929 rushing attempts and 71 rushing touchdowns. In all, he scored 513 points on 84 touchdowns, six extra points and one field goal. Joe Perry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969.