BILL GEORGE

BILL GEORGE

Class of 1974
Linebacker >>> 6-2, 237
(Wake Forest)
1952-1965 Chicago Bears, 1966 Los Angeles Rams

William J. George. . .Bears' No. 2 future draft choice, 1951. . .One of first great middle linebackers. . .Called Bears' defensive signals eight years. . . Exceptionally astute strategist, on-the-field innovator. . .All-NFL eight years. . . Played in eight straight Pro Bowls, 1955-1962. . . Career record: 18 interceptions, 19 opponents' fumbles recovered. . .Born October 27, 1929, in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. . . Died September 30, 1982, at age of 52.

Bill George was the Chicago Bears’ second-round draft pick in 1951. He began his pro football career the following year as a middle guard in the then-standard five-man defensive front. Two years later, in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, George made a now historic move that permanently changed defensive strategy in the National Football League.

On passing plays, George’s job was to bump the center and then drop back. George, noting the Eagles success at completing short passes just over his head, decided to skip the center bump and drop back immediately. Two plays later he caught the first of his 18 pro interceptions. While no one can swear which middle guard in a five-man line first dropped back to play middle linebacker and create the classic 4-3 defense, George is the most popular choice.

Certainly he was the first to star at the middle linebacker position. It was his ability to diagnose and react quickly that led the Bears to believe he could move that step or two backwards and become a super middle linebacker – a demanding position requiring sometimes pass rushing and sometimes pass defense, along with sure tackling, the speed to move from sideline to sideline, the agility to avoid blockers, and a keen sense of anticipation.

During the 1950’s and early 1960’s, the Bears were known for their outstanding defensive teams and George was a major part reason for their fame. A ferocious all-out player, he was named All-NFL choice eight times – seven consecutive seasons (1955-1961) and then an eighth in 1963 when he was the leader of the defensive that figured in the Bears 14-10 championship win over the New York Giants.

He was also selected to play in eight consecutive Pro Bowls, 1955-1962. In addition to his eighteen career interceptions, George also recovered nineteen fumbles, and in 1954 scored 25 points on thirteen PATs and four field goals.

Year
Team
G
Int
Yds.
Avg.
TD
FumRec.
Yds.
TD
1952 Chicago Bears
12
0
0
0.0
0
3
0
0
1953 Chicago Bears
12
0
0
0.0
0
0
0
0
1954 Chicago Bears
12
2
9
4.5
0
0
0
0
1955 Chicago Bears
12
2
13
6.5
0
2
0
0
1956 Chicago Bears
12
2
9
4.5
0
3
0
0
1957 Chicago Bears
12
0
0
0.0
0
1
0
0
1958 Chicago Bears
12
1
5
5.0
0
4
0
0
1959 Chicago Bears
12
2
20
10.0
0
1
0
0
1960 Chicago
12
1
12
12.0
0
0
0
0
1961 Chicago
14
3
18
6.0
0
2
0
0
1962 Chicago
13
2
26
13.0
0
0
0
0
1963 Chicago
14
1
4
4.0
0
0
0
0
1964 Chicago
8
2
28
14.0
0
1
0
0
1965 Chicago
2
0
0
0.0
0
0
0
0
1966 Los Angeles
14
0
0
0.0
0
2
0
0
Career Total
173
18
144
8.0
0
19
0
0
Additional Career Statistics: Scoring: 4-8 FG, 14-15 XP

Full Name: William J. George

Birthdate: October 27, 1929

Birthplace: Waynesburg, Pennsylvania

High School: Waynesburg (PA)

Died: September 30, 1982

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 12,1974

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 27, 1974

Presenter: Edward W. McCaskey, VP/Treasurer, Bears

Other Members of Class of 1974: Tony Canadeo, Lou Groza, Dick "Night Train" Lane

Pro Career: 15 seasons, 173 games

Drafted: 2nd round (23 player overall) in 1951 by Chicago Bears

Uniform Number: 61, (72)

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