Who was George Buksar?
A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday.
George Buksar passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 84. Who was George? He was a man who walked into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the late 1980s. At first we thought he was just an enthusiastic fan who loved to research football.
Over the years he became a good friend of the Hall. He attended nearly every special event we held and he rarely came alone. George arranged and paid for trips to the events for all sorts of groups ranging from disadvantaged youths to veterans from V.A. hospitals. He would buy bunches of tickets to the Hall of Fame, to our Enshrinement, and to the annual NFL/Hall of Fame Game. He’d sometimes stop by and drop off food for the staff as a way of thanking us for what we do. Each Christmas, he’d be sure to visit and give special collector ornaments to several of us at the Hall of Fame.
Here's a shot of George (fourth from left) with former Dallas Cowboy Chad Hennings and veterans during our 2007 Veteran's Day Celebration.
George served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, attended Purdue, and then graduated from the University of San Francisco. From there he embarked on a successful career in business much of it spent working for IBM. He also served later in life as the sales manager for Industrial Valves in Cleveland. But this blog is about a job that George moonlighted at during the late 1940s and early 1950s after graduating from the University of San Francisco.
That job? A pro football player. Yes, George was a pro football player. He competed during a time when the NFL didn’t provide a salary that could fully support a man and his family. He was a decent sized fullback/linebacker at 6’0” and just over 200 pounds. He got his first chance at pro ball with the Chicago Hornets of the rival All-America Football Conference in 1949. When that league folded, George signed on with the Baltimore Colts in 1950 before playing two final seasons with the Washington Redskins in 1951-52. In fact, during part of his time with Washington he roomed with the team’s star, quarterback Sammy Baugh. In all, George registered 7 interceptions which he returned for 99 yards. Six of those picks came in his one season with the Colts.
George is one of the more than 21,000 men who’ve played in the NFL. It was a fraternity that he was proud to be a part. And, he never lost his connection to the sport. Over the years, George shared so many stories from his playing days with us. He provided a flavorful account of a truly unique time in pro football history. His stories were seldom about him rather they described the many colorful characters from a bygone era.
And, in his travels for work, George always went out of his way to reach out to any NFL alum who might be in the area where he was passing through. George also spent countless hours calling former NFL players who were ailing in their later years. He figured a phone call and some conversation would cheer them up.
George loved football and he loved the Hall of Fame. He will be missed.
Our condolences go out to his wife Marilyn and his entire family.
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