Tony Canadeo from little-known Gonzaga University was an unsung ninth-round choice of the Green Bay Packers in 1941 but it wasn't long before he earned the reputation of being a budding superstar who could – and would – do anything on a football field.
He played offense and defense, ran with the ball, threw passes, caught passes, returned punts and kickoffs, punted and intercepted passes. In 11 years, he rushed for 4,197 yards, passed for 1,642 yards, recorded 69 receptions for 579 yards, gained 513 yards on punt returns, 1,736 on kickoff returns, and scored 186 points.
Altogether the versatile Canadeo gained 8,667 multi-purpose yards. Putting it another way, he accounted for almost 75 yards in each of the 116 games he played. Add to that, he also intercepted 9 passes and punted 45 times during his remarkable career. Green Bay from 1941 through 1944 was one of pro football's premiere football teams. During that period, Tony initially served as an understudy to veteran quarterback Cecil lsbell. Then in 1943, he became the Packers' No. 1 passer. That year he was also named to the official All-NFL team. In 1945,World War II interrupted Canadeo's pro career.
When he returned from the Army in 1946, the Packers no longer were contenders and Canadeo’s role was significantly different. For his final seven seasons in the league, Tony became a heavy-duty running back and, predictably, came through with flying colors. In 1949, he became only the third player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. He won All-NFL acclaim for a second time.
Small by pro standards, Canadeo was neither particularly fast nor elusive. Because he was prematurely gray, he was popularly known as "The Gray Ghost of Gonzaga." But Tony employed the attributes of most great athletes – determination, courage and tenacity – to attain Hall of Fame stature.
Full Name: Anthony Robert Canadeo
Birthdate: May 5, 1919
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Died: November 29, 2003
High School: Steinmetz (Chicago, IL)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 12, 1974
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 27, 1974
Presenter: Richard O. Bourguignon, VP, Packers
Other Members of Class of 1974: Bill George, Lou Groza, Dick "Night Train" Lane
Pro Career: 11 seasons, 116 games
Drafted: 9th round (77th overall) by Green Bay Packers
Uniform Number: 3