John McNally still had a year of college eligibility remaining when he decided to take a shot at pro football. To protect his eligibility, he needed an alias, a common practice in the 1920s. He and a friend passed a theater where the movie, Blood and Sand, was playing. Suddenly, McNally exclaimed to his friend: "That's it. You be Sand. I'll be Blood." So "Johnny Blood" it was, through 14 seasons in the NFL.
At 6-1 and 188-pound “Blood” was unbelievably fast, a superb running back and possibly the finest receiver in the National Football League at that time. He could throw passes and punt with the best.
On defense he was a ball hawk and a deadly tackler. He played on five NFL teams in 14 seasons but his best years came with the Green Bay Packers, with whom he was a major contributor to four championship teams in 1929, 1930, 1931, and 1936.
His off-the-field antics, however, constantly drew attention away from his exceptional playing skills. A talented youngster, Johnny graduated from high school at 14, an age when he was small and immature and could not compete athletically.
At St John's College, however, he began to grow and his natural athletic talents burst into full bloom. He was the basketball team captain and a letter winner in three other sports – football, baseball and track – in his junior year.
Some say McNally clung so fiercely to boyhood he that never grew up, at least not until after his pro football days which ended when he was coach with the 1939 Pittsburgh Pirates. He didn't marry until he was in his mid-forties and it was his wife Marguerite, who described him most accurately. "'Even when Johnny does the expected," she said, "he does it in an unexpected way."