Bill Hewitt is most often remembered for his stubborn refusal to wear a helmet. He finally donned headgear in his final NFL season but only because new NFL rules left him no choice. While an interesting sidelight, this should not overshadow the fact that Hewitt was one of the finest two-way ends ever to play football at any level.
Bill was a terror on offense but absolutely peerless on defense. An "iron-man" performer who averaged more than 50 minutes playing time each game, Hewitt had a zest for competition and a record for making the biggest plays in the toughest situations. He was always conjuring up new gimmicks to foil the opposition.
One of his special plays called for a jump pass from fullback Bronko Nagurski. Hewitt would in turn lateral to another end, Bill Karr, racing toward the goal line. It was this play that gave the Bears a victory in the NFL's first championship game in 1933, a 23-21 win over the New York Giants.
On defense, Hewitt became the first player to make the masses take their eyes off the football just to watch him stymie the opponent. Because he had a jet-propulsion start at the snap of the ball, the fans tabbed him "The Offside Kid," because they couldn't fathom anyone reacting so quickly without being offside.
Equally impressive was his tackling and his uncanny knack of diagnosing enemy plays. Hewitt was the first to admit he wasn't much of a player either in high school or at the University of Michigan. Once he reached the NFL, it was a different story. He was named all-league as a rookie by one major publication and repeated the honor in 1933, 1934,1936,1937, and 1938. The last two times he was selected as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
William Ernest Hewitt
October 8, 1909
Bay City, Michigan
Central (Bay City, Mich.)
January 14, 1947
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame:
January 16, 1971
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame:
July 31, 1971 (represented by his daughter, Mary Ellen Cocozza)
Upton Bell, GM, Patriots
Other Members of Class of 1971: Jim Brown
, Frank "Bruiser" Kinard
, Vince Lombardi
, Andy Robustelli
, Y.A. Tittle
, Norm Van Brocklin
9 seasons, 101 games
Hewitt played prior to the NFL Draft being implemented.