Mel Hein, a fixture at center for the New York Giants for 15 seasons, was one of the most durable players in NFL history. In the early days, there was no platoon football and players went 60 minutes every game. Yet he called for a timeout just once in his career—for hasty repairs to a broken nose in 1941.
Even in his final campaign at the age of 36, Mel was still playing every game from the first kickoff to the final gun. Mel combined great stamina, a cool head, mental alertness and simply superior ability to become an exceptional star.
He was named first-team All-NFL center eight straight years from 1933 through 1940. He also earned second team All-NFL recognition five other times. In 1938, he was named the league's most valuable player, a rare honor for a center. He was the team captain for 10 seasons.
"Cappy" could do everything expected of a center and a linebacker and quite a bit more. Mel was one of the few NFL stars who had the speed and agility to contain Green Bay's premier receiver, Don Hutson, by bottling him up on the sidelines so he could not maneuver into the open. Although Mel was thoroughly aggressive and coldly ferocious when it came to blocking and tackling, he was a gentleman player. He rarely lost his temper.
Hein led Washington State to a Rose Bowl bid in 1930 and was named to Grantland Rice's All-America team. Yet Mel had to write to three NFL teams offering his services in 1931. Providence bit first, offering $135 a game. Hein signed and mailed the Steam Roller contract. Then he learned that he could get $150 from the Giants so he hastily wired the Providence postmaster, described the letter he had sent and asked him to return it. Fortunately for the Giants, the first contract was returned and Hein destroyed it.