Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chicago Sun-Times: Red Grange, "best of the best"

For the last 25 weeks, the Chicago Sun-Times has been counting down the "Top 25 Athletes in Chicago History." According to Sun Times writer Neil Hayes, who has been writing the excellent series, "we left it up to our panel of current and former Sun-Times writers and editors to define 'greatness.' The result was a Top 25 that featured nine football players, eight basketball players, four baseball greats, two swimmers, a hockey player and a track star."

Red Grange was voted the greatest athlete in Chicago history by the panel. The Grange article--No. 1: Red Grange | A 'GHOST' TOWN | Illinois legend who put pro football on map with Bears is best of the best--appears in today's paper.

(I am quoted.)

Here is an excerpt:

He's considered among the greatest football players in history, but Red Grange never was able to explain what made him great. The former Illinois and Bears superstar is perhaps the person most responsible for football as we know it today, but he never could articulate what separated him from the rest.

''I can't take much credit for what I did, running with a football, because I don't know what I did,'' Grange told sportswriter W.C. Heinz. ''Nobody ever taught me, and I can't teach anybody. You can teach a man how to block or tackle or kick or pass. The ability to run with a ball is something you have or you haven't. If you can't explain it, how can you take credit for it?''

Red Grange was perhaps the greatest single attraction football has ever known. People flocked to see him play.

Grange was perhaps the greatest single attraction the game has ever known. He was one of four athletes (Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey and Bobby Jones being the others) who made the 1920s roar. Not long after leaving his hometown of Wheaton, the former ice man became an American obsession whom people flocked to see. Not only was he perhaps the greatest player in college history, but he almost single-handedly transformed pro football into a spectator sport.

Almost a quarter-century after he retired, the spector of the ''Galloping Ghost'' still looms large over the game. For those reasons, Grange was voted the Greatest Athlete in Chicago History by a Sun-Times panel.

''If you were to draw a line through the mud of American history and find one man who could be considered the founding father of our football culture, it would be Red Grange,'' said Gary Andrew Poole, author of The Galloping Ghost: Red Grange, an American Football Legend...

To read the rest of the article, click here.


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