CLIFF BATTLES

CLIFF BATTLES

Class of 1968
Halfback >>> 6-1, 195
(West Virginia Wesleyan)
1932 Boston Braves, 1933-1936 Boston Redskins, 1937 Washington Redskins

Clifford Franklin Battles. . .Phi Beta Kappa scholar, triple-threat grid star at West Virginia Wesleyan. . .NFL rushing champ, 1932, 1937. . . All-NFL choice, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937. . . Six-year career rushing - 3,511 yards. . .First to gain over 200 yards in one game, 1933. . .Scored three spectacular TDs in division-clinching win over Giants, 1937 . . .Retired after 1937 season when salary was frozen at $3,000. . .Born May 1, 1910, in Akron, Ohio. . .Died April 28, 1981, at age of 70.

Cliff Battles, a sensational running back from West Virginia Wesleyan College won the National Football League rushing title in 1932 as a rookie with the Boston Braves. The next year the Braves were renamed the Redskins and Battles became the first player ever to rush for more than 200 yards in a game. He accomplished in the feat on October 8, 1933 in a game against the New York Giants as he rushed 16 times for 215 yards, and scored one touchdown.

In 1937 Redskins George Preston Marshall moved his team from Boston to Washington. He brought Battles, the NFL's premier running back, with him and quickly added a sensational rookie passer, Sammy Baugh. It didn't seem out of the question that the Battles-Baugh ground and air threat would make the Redskins championship contenders for years to come. For the 1937 season, Baugh and Battles combined their talents just as everyone had anticipated. On the season’s final day, Battles scored three touchdowns to power the Redskins to a 49-14 win over the New York Giants for the Eastern Division title. Against the Chicago Bears a week later, Battles scored the first touchdown in a 28-21 victory that gave the Redskins their first NFL championship.

Battles was again the league’s leading rusher and he won all-league honors for the fifth time in six years. In just six seasons, Battles totaled 3,511 yards rushing – really big numbers for that era – and Redskins fans looked forward to more of the same in the upcoming seasons. With Battles carrying the ball and Baugh tossing it, championships seemed assured.

But it was not to be. Inexplicably, Marshall, who had paid Battles $3,000 a year, starting with his rookie campaign, refused to consider a raise, even though Cliff clearly was a star player with much fan appeal. After the season, the exasperated Battles accepted a $4,000 job as an assistant coach at Columbia University. The Redskins won only one more championship during Baugh’s long and storied career. Loyal Redskins fans were left to wonder, “what might have been” if Marshall had only given Battles a raise.

Year Team
G
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
1932 Boston
8
148
576
3.9
3
4
60
15.0
1
1933 Boston
12
136
737
5.4
3
11
185
16.8
0
1934 Boston
12
96
480
5.0
6
5
95
19.0
1
1935 Boston
7
67
230
3.4
1
3
22
7.3
0
1936 Boston
11
176
614
3.5
5
6
103
17.2
1
1937 Washington
10
216
874
4.0
5
9
81
9.0
1
Career Total
60
839
3,511
4.2
23
38
546
14.4
4
Additional Career : Passing: 157-44-590, 1 TD, 15 Int; Scoring: 31 TDs, 0-1 FG, 1-1 XP; Punt Return TDs: 2; Kickoff Return TD: 1; Interception TD: 1

Full Name: Clifford Franklin Battles

Birthdate: May 1, 1910

Birthplace: Akron, Ohio

High School: Kenmore (Akron, OH)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: Unknown

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 3, 1968

Presenter: Edwards Bennett Williams, President, Redskins

Other Members of Class of 1968: Art Donovan, Elroy Hirsch, Wayne Millner, Marion Motley, Charley Trippi, Alex Wojciechowicz

Pro Career: 6 seasons, 60 games

Drafted: Battles played prior to the NFL Draft being implemented.

Uniform Number: 20

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