Class of 1965
Guard >>> 6-0, 210
1936-1943 Chicago Bears

Daniel John Fortmann. . .Bears' No. 9 pick in first NFL draft, 1936. . . At 20, became youngest starter in NFL. . .60-minute line leader, battering-ram blocker. . .Deadly tackler, genius at diagnosing enemy plays. . .First- or second-team All-NFL every season of his career. . .Phi Beta Kappa scholar at Colgate. . . Earned medical degree while playing in NFL. . . Born April 11, 1916, in Pearl River, New York. . .Died May 23, 1995, at age of 79.

Legend has it that George Halas, the owner-founder of the Chicago Bears selected Colgate guard Danny Fortmann as his team’s ninth and final pick in the 1936 National Football League Draft because he liked his name. It was the league’s first draft and not nearly as sophisticated as today’s version.

On the surface, it appeared at first that Halas had made a mistake. At 6’ and weighing 210 pounds, Fortmann who was just 19 years old when he was drafted, appeared to be too small for line play in the NFL. A Phi Beta Kappa scholar, he definitely didn’t possess the usual credentials for someone who was supposed to knock down enemy ball carriers or lead the interference.

By the time his rookie season started, Danny had turned 20 but was still the youngest starter in the NFL. He had determination and talent, however, and soon was excelling as a little man in a big man's game.

On offense, he called signals for the linemen and was a battering-ram blocker. On defense, he was a genius at diagnosing enemy plays and a deadly tackler. For seven seasons, Fortmann and Chicago's No. 1 pick in the historic 1936 draft, tackle Joe Stydahar, were a formidable combination on the left side of the powerful Bears line.

The Bears were a dominant team during Fortmann's career. From 1936 to 1943, the “Monsters of the Midway” won three NFL championships and took divisional titles on two other occasions, and Fortmann was the top man at his position in pro football. He earned first- or second-team All-NFL honors all eight years of his career.

Typical of his hard work and desire to excel, Fortmann continued his education while playing for the Bears and graduated in 1940 from the University of Chicago Medical School.

1936 Chicago Bears
1937 Chicago Bears
1938 Chicago Bears
1939 Chicago Bears
1940 Chicago Bears
1941 Chicago Bears
1942 Chicago Bears
1943 Chicago Bears
Career Total
Additional Career Statistics: Interceptions: 8-54; Fumble Recoveries for TD: 1
Full Name: Daniel John Fortmann

Birthdate: April 11, 1916

Birthplace: Pearl River, New York

Died: May 23, 1995

High School:
Pearl River (N.Y.)

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame:
Sept. 12, 1965

Andy Kerr, Colgate Head Coach

Other Members of Class of 1965: Guy Chamberlin, John "Paddy" Driscoll, Otto Graham, Sid Luckman, Steve Van Buren, Bob Waterfield

Pro Career: 8 seasons, 86 games

Drafted: 9th round (78th player overall) in 1936 by Chicago Bears

Uniform Number: 21

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