Clyde "Bulldog” Turner excelled as a premier center and linebacker for the Chicago Bears for 13 seasons. Yet had it not been for a fortunate set of circumstances while he was still a college player at Hardin-Simmons University, he might never have had the chance to play in the National Football League.
Pro football scouting was in the early stages in the late 1930s. Most teams relied on football magazines with their traditional pre-season All-America selections. Players from little-known colleges simply weren't included. Yet not one but two NFL teams eagerly sought Turner.
A Hardin-Simmons fan tipped off Frank Korch, a Bears scout, about Turner's abilities during his junior season. After watching Turner, Korch convinced coach George Halas the Bears should draft him. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions were so sure they had convinced Turner to turn down offers from other NFL teams they didn’t even bother to draft him.
For the Bears, acquiring Turner in the first round of the 1940 draft proved to be a masterstroke. For both, the 1940 season marked the beginning of a period of dominance of their particular specialties, the Bears in winning championships and Turner in becoming the best all-round center in pro football. As a linebacker who was blessed with halfback speed, Turner, in 1942, led the league in interceptions with eight.
On offense, he was a flawless snapper and an exceptional blocker who could also play guard or tackle. Never was his versatility more evident than in 1944 when he was asked to fill in as a ball carrier in an emergency situation. He consistently ground out long gains, including a 48-yard touchdown romp. Three years later against Washington, Turner came up with what he called the favorite play of his career, a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown.