New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Football

Harold Weekes

Harold Weekes (College football.  Born, Oyster Bay, NY, Apr. 2, 1880; died, New York, NY, July 25, 1950.)  A 145-pound lightning bolt from Morristown (N.J.) School, Harold Weekes hit the college football scene like a shot in 1899 when Columbia resumed intercollegiate competition after an eight-year absence.  One of the major upsets of that season was the Lions’ 5-0 victory over Yale.  Weekes scored the game’s only touchdown with a 55-yard sprint in the second half.  The loss marked the first shutout defeat by Yale except at the hands of the other “Big Three” teams – Harvard and Princeton.  Weekes was an expert at hurdling over the opposing line, often aided by his backfield mate and later coach, Bill Morley, until the practice was outlawed at least partly because of his success at the dangerous maneuver.  In Columbia’s 22-0 win over Dartmouth in 1899, Weekes dazzled the Hanover Indians with an 80-yard run, and against Carlisle the following year, he scored on runs of 80 and 60 yards in a 17-6 Lions win.  Weekes was the first Columbia player to earn Walter Camp all-America recognition, making the third team in 1899.  His exploits earned him second team all-America honors in 1900 and a first team place in 1901.  Columbia was 23-11-1 in those three seasons and Weekes was the captain of the 1902 team that was 6-4-1.  Harold Hathaway Weekes was later a successful stockbroker with a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

Russ Warren

Russ Warren (Football.  Born, Burlington, VT, June 18, 1939.)  Clearly a man not easily discouraged, Dr. Russell F. Warren did not make the cut with the Football Giants in 1962 but returned 22 years later as the team physician.  Warren was a standout halfback on the Columbia team that shared the Ivy League championship in 1961.  During his three-year varsity career at Columbia (1959-61), he gained 895 yards rushing (just a shade under four yards a carry).  Warren also caught 21 passes for 273 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.  He ran 43 yards for a game-clinching score against the Lions’ arch-nemesis, Dartmouth, and a three-yarder the next week against Penn in the win that ensured a tie for the league title.  He was also an outfielder on the Lions’ baseball team.  Warren then went to Upstate Medical School for his M.D. and did a two-year tour as a Naval medical officer.  He is considered one of the top surgeons in New York as surgeon-in-chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery for Cornell Medical Center.  He joined the Giants medical staff in 1984.

Joe Walton

Joe Walton (Pro football.  Born, Beaver Falls, PA, Dec. 15, 1935.)  One of only a handful of men to coach both the Giants and the Jets, Joe Walton was a player and assistant coach for the Giants and then an assistant (1981-82) and head coach (1983-89) for the Jets.  Walton was an all-America end of the University of Pittsburgh who was drafted by Washington, where he played for four seasons (1957-60).  He came to the Giants in a six-player deal in July 1961.  In three seasons as a tight end for the Giants, Walton had 95 receptions for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns.  After a brief radio career, he became a Giants scout in 1967 and an assistant coach in 1969 under Alex Webster (q.v.).  In 1974, Walton went to Washington (where his father Frank had played) as an assistant, becoming offensive coordinator in 1978.  Walt Michaels (q.v.) brought him to the Jets in 1981 and he succeeded Michaels as head coach Feb. 10, 1983, the day after Michaels announced his retirement.  Walton was 53-57-1 in seven seasons as head coach (with playoff appearances in 1985 and 1986) before new general manager Dick Steinberg dismissed him three days after the final game of the 1989 season.

Ray Walsh

Ray Walsh (Pro football.  Born, New York, NY, Mar. 18, 1916; died, White Plains, NY, Aug. 6, 1998.)  A skilled jack-of-all-trades, Raymond J. Walsh served the Football Giants from 1947-91 in a wide range of positions.  Walsh was a scout, publicist, business manager, and negotiator.  He was active in the lease negotiation and planning that brought the Giants to New Jersey in 1976.  Walsh was a No. 1 singles player for the Fordham tennis team and graduated magna cum laude in 1937 before going to Fordham Law School.

Frank Umont

Frank Umont (Pro football, baseball.  Born Staten Island, NY, Nov. 17, 1917; died, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Jan. 20, 1991.)  Even without the benefit of college, Frank William Umont was good enough to be a lineman with the wartime Football Giants (1943-45).  In 1944, the 5’11”, 220-pound Umont was also employed as a blocking fullback.  One of his teammates on the Giants was Hank Soar (q.v.), who helped him with some coaching work and encouraged him to be a baseball umpire.  Umont started in 1950 (in the Western Carolina League), advanced to the Piedmont League and then the American Association.  He umpired in the A.L. for 20 seasons (1954-73).

Emlen Tunnell

Emlen Tunnell (Pro football.  Born, Bryn Mawr, PA, Mar. 29, 1925; died, Pleasantville, NY, July 23, 1975.)  One of the premier defensive backs in the history of pro football, Emlen Lewis Tunnell came undrafted out of the University of Iowa in 1948.  He had to plead with the Giants for a tryout.  With the N.F.L. then locked in a struggle with the rival All-America Football Conference, the Giants decided they had nothing to lose, and thereby gained one of the great pass defenders in league annals.  Tunnell was also a punt returner and returned kickoffs during the early part of his 11-year career with the club.  During that time, Tunnell set a Giants record with 74 career pass interceptions, which he returned for 1,240 yards and four touchdowns.  He became part of the four-deep back setup on coach Steve Owen’s “umbrella defense” with Tom Landry, Harmon Rowe, and Otto Schnellbacher.  This was a mobile defense alignment designed primarily to stop Otto Graham and the Cleveland Browns’ passing attack.  Tunnell set another Giants record in 1953 when he returned 38 punts, and finished his career with 257 for 2,199 yards and five touchdowns.  He also handled 46 kickoff returns.  Tunnell was a key part of the Giants team that won the 1956 N.F.L. championship and the 1958 Eastern division titlists who lost the fabled overtime game to the Baltimore Colts at Yankee Stadium.  He played the final three years (1959-61) of his 14-season career with Green Bay.  In 1969, in connection with the N.F.L.’s celebration of its 50th anniversary, he was named the league’s all-time safety.  He was also the first black player to play for the Giants, and the first to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Arnold Tucker

Arnold Tucker (College football.  Born, Calhoun Falls, SC, Jan. 5, 1924.)  During the years 1944-46, there were few better playing assignments in college football than quarterbacking the West Point teams featuring Glenn Davis (q.v.) and Doc Blanchard (q.v.) as the running backs.  As it happened, that assignment fell to young Arnold Tucker.  Over the course of those three seasons, Army won 27 of 28 games and played a scoreless tie with Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium.  Most of the attention fell on Blanchard and Davis but, in 1946, Tucker made several all-America teams and was chosen the Sullivan Award winner as the outstanding amateur athlete in the U.S.  He served in the U.S. Army until 1974, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.  He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

Eddie Tryon

Eddie Tryon (Pro football.  Born, Medford, MA, July 25, 1900; died, St. Petersburg, FL, May 1, 1982.)  As a four-year letterman who captain the unbeaten Colgate team of 1925 (7-0-2), Joseph Edward Tryon was a major name for the embryonic Football Yankees of 1926.  Tryon scored 111 points with 15 touchdowns as a college senior, earning all-America recognition.  He was in a pro backfield with Illinois’ celebrated Red Grange (q.v.) and Columbia’s captain George Pease (q.v.).  In the event, Tryon didn’t disappoint, leading the A.F.L. in scoring (72 points) on nine touchdowns, 12 extra points, and two field goals.  When the Yankees moved to the N.F.L. in 1927, he tied for the league lead in touchdowns (six) and scored 44 points, tops on the team.  In those two seasons, Tryon scored 15 touchdowns to Grange’s nine.  He then decided that he had had enough of pro football and went into business.

Dan Topping

Dan Topping (Baseball, pro football.  Born, Grennwich, CT, June 11, 1912; died, Miami, FL, May 18, 1974.)  Grandson of a former president of Republic Steel on his father’s side and a tin millionaire on his mother’s, Daniel Reid Topping was an above-average amateur golfer, owner of two pro football teams, and an owner of the Yankees for 22 years.  Topping played football, golf, baseball, and hockey at various times during his school years at The Hun and Penn.  It was in golf that he made his only serious athletic impression, reaching the quarterfinals of the British Amateur in 1935 and playing in the U.S. Amateur three times.  Topping started his business career at Bankers Trust in 1930, briefly ran an advertising agency, and, in 1934, bought the N.F.L. Brooklyn Football Dodgers.  He owned the club for 11 years (1934-44), hiring famed coach Dr. John B. Sutherland in 1940 (for the then-huge salary of $17,500) and beating the Football Giants on Pearl Harbor Day (Dec. 7, 1941) at the Polo Grounds.  His pro sports ownership was then mixed with a 42-month hitch in the Marines during World War II (26 months in the Pacific Theater).  In 1945, Topping announced that his Brooklyn team was leaving the N.F.L. to join the new, rival league then being formed.  Earlier that year, he had joined the triumvirate that bought the Yankees from the Ruppert estate (Jan. 25).  Topping, construction magnate Del Webb, and baseball executive Larry MacPhail paid $2.8 million for the team and Yankee Stadium.  The N.F.L. stripped his team of its players but Topping joined the All-America Football Conference anyway, placing the Football Yankees in the Stadium (1946-49).  The football team made the playoffs three times in four years and twice lost the league title game to the Cleveland Browns.  It was for the Football Yankees public-address position that Topping hired Bob Sheppard (1949), who later became famous as the baseball Yankees p.a. announcer for almost 60 years.  Topping’s baseball teams were much more effective, winning 14 American League pennants and nine World Series in his first 17 years as president after MacPhail was bought out following the 1947 Series.  He sold most of his interest to C.B.S. (for $11.2 million) in 1964 and the balance two years later when he resigned as president.  Earlier, Topping and Webb had sold Yankee Stadium (1953).  Lean, handsome, and always tanned, Topping led an active personal life.  He was married six times (including to actress Arline Judge in 1937, Olympic figure skating champion Sonja Henie in 1940 and actress Kay Sutton in 1947).  Five of the marriages ended in divorce, but he had nine children.  Topping summed up his feelings when he said, “Being in sports is the only way you can work and enjoy yourself while working.”  He also once observed, “Friends are the guys who are still around when you’re not winning.”  Topping also served on the boards of several companies, including Madison Square Garden.

Y.A. Tittle

Y.A. Tittle (Pro football.  Born, Marshall, TX, Oct. 24, 1926.)  As a star at Louisiana State from 1944-47 and for 12 seasons of pro football, Yelverton Abraham Tittle was one of the standout quarterbacks in the sport.  In 1961, he joined the New York Giants in a trade for tackle Lou Cordileone.  Over the next four years, Tittle was to pass for over 300 yards in nine games, accumulating a staggering 10,439 yards passing and 96 touchdowns in those four seasons as the Giants won three straight division championships.  Tittle threw for 33 touchdowns in 1962 and for an N.F.L.-record 36 in 1963, helping the Giants into the championship game both seasons.  On Oct. 28, 1962, he passed for 505 yards against the Washington Redskins in Yankee Stadium, completing 12 straight passes at one point in the game and throwing for seven touchdowns.  Three of those touchdown passes went to Joe Walton (q.v.) and two more to his favorite receiver, Del Shofner.  Chosen the N.F.L. Player of the Year in 1961, Tittle retired after the 1964 season, ending a colorful 17-year career that saw him star with the Baltimore Colts and San Francisco 49ers before joining the Giants.

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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