In a crucial game midway into the 1951 NFL season, the Los Angeles Rams found themselves trailing the Chicago Bears, 14-0, and deep in a hole on their own 9-yard line. Quarterback Bob Waterfield faked a handoff, stepped back a few paces and threw far downfield. Elroy Hirsch took off at the snap and was running full-throttle at midfield. Waterfield's pass was over his head but Elroy gathered in the ball on his fingertips and raced for a 91-yard touchdown. The Rams went on to an important 42-17 victory. It was a patented "Elroy Hirsch special," a sizzling shocker that was repeated 17 times that year.
Besides his 91-yard bomb, Elroy had numerous other long-yardage touchdowns as he established a new league record at the time of 1,495 yards receiving. It wasn' t just the number of long-gainers but the way he did the job that set Hirsch apart from all others. "Crazylegs" had a unique running style that made him famous. When running downfield, his muscular legs seemed to gyrate in six different directions at once.
Pro football success did not come easily to Hirsch, even though he was an All-America halfback at both Wisconsin and Michigan before he joined the Chicago Rockets of the new All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1946. Hirsch described his three seasons in Chicago as "frightful."
When his AAFC contract expired, Hirsch happily joined the Rams. After a year spent mostly on the bench in 1949, Elroy was shifted to end. Not familiar with playing end, he initially struggled. However, hard work eventually paid off and, a year later, he became a primary contributor to the Rams' impressive march to the NFL title. Many observers insisted “Crazylegs” was the best end ever but Hirsch modestly downgraded his own case. "I'm just a busted-down, retreaded halfback who happened to get lucky."