Halfback George McAfee at 6-0 and 178 pounds did not have the physique of the average pro football player, even in the 1940’s when he starred for the Chicago Bears. Even Bears founder and coach George Halas, who signed the the Duke All-America after he was the No.2 overall pick in the 1940 draft, wondered if he had made the right decision.
From the start, however, McAfee established himself as an explosive game breaker, the kind of back that was a threat to go all the way every time he had the ball. In his first exhibition game, George returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown with just seconds remaining to defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the 1940 regular-season opener, he ran back a kickoff 93 yards and threw a touchdown pass in a 41-10 Bears victory over arch-rival Green Bay.
In the historic 73-0 rout of the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship Game, McAfee contributed a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown. Eventually, to be compared to McAfee by Halas was considered the highest compliment.
McAfee's pro career was not particularly long – limited to just eight years before and after World War II service. While his career statistics are not overwhelming, they do show that he did just about everything a player could do with a football. He was a breakaway runner, a dangerous pass receiver, and one of history’s best kick-return specialists as evidenced by his record-breaking 12.78-yard average on 112 punt returns.
George also played defense and recorded 25 interceptions during his career. George, whether running wide or up the middle, either as a pass receiver or a decoy, was known as "One-Play McAfee," and a constant headache to the opposition. McAfee also pioneered the use of low-cut shoes, which he believed improved his speed and elusiveness.