Draft Memories: Charley Trippi

To be drafted into the National Football League is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thousands of players have experienced that joyful moment since the college draft was instituted by the NFL in 1936. However, only a select number of these drafted players excelled on the NFL gridiron to the point that earned them a bust in Canton. Over the years, Profootballhof.com has sat down and asked some Hall of Famers to relive their draft day.

Charley Trippi
"Bargaining Power"

The Chicago Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers played as a merged team in 1944. Having finished in last place the teams alternated first and second in the 1945 NFL Draft. The Cardinals chose first overall and quickly selected halfback Charley Trippi from the University of Georgia.

At the time, Charley was in the service.

“When I was discharged from the service, I returned to Georgia to finish work toward a college degree,” the Class of 1968 inductee recalled for profootballhof.com. 

He also has had some college football eligibility remaining. By the time he finished his senior year for the Bulldogs Charley had been drafted again. This time, it was the New York Yankees of the rival All-America Football Conference, who had taken the All-America as a special draft pick in the 1947 AAFC Draft.

“The draft by both teams put me in a good negotiating position,” said Trippi. “It was (in) my best interest to join the Chicago Cardinals which made me a good four-year offer which included a bonus.”

Trippi joined the Cardinals in 1947 and led the team to its first NFL championship since 1925. He went on to star for nine years with Chicago as a player and then as a backfield coach for five seasons.

Hall of Famers Taken in the 1945 NFL Draft
 Charley Trippi, HB, Chicago Cardinals - 1st round (1st overall)
 Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch, HB-E, Cleveland Rams - 1st round (5th overall)

 Pete Pihos, E, Philadelphia Eagles - 5th round (41st overall)
 Tom Fears, E, Cleveland Rams - 11th round (103rd overall)
 Arnie Weinmeister, E, Brooklyn Tigers - 17th round (166th overall)