Just as Doug Flutie received much acclaim in the 1990s, another diminutive Heisman Trophy winner set the pro football scene on fire in 1939. A highly acclaimed passer from Texas Christian, Davey O'Brien stood 5'7" and weighed 151 pounds.
As the temperatures rose into the 90s, Davey O'Brien received his Eagles helmet prior to his first practice as a pro. It turns out that the players dressed in full uniforms for the benefit of the photographers on hand. After photos were taken, the players practiced in shorts.
(Photo: Pro Football Hall of Fame)
O'Brien was born in Dallas Texas on June 22, 1917 and attended Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas. He entered TCU in 1935 and served as a backup to Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh as a sophomore. As a junior, he earned All-SWC honors and in 1938 directed the team to a national championship. For his efforts, he was named the winner of the Heisman Trophy.
The following year, the Philadelphia Eagles selected O'Brien as the fourth player overall in the 1939 draft. He earned a reported $12,000 bonus and quickly earned his keep. He led the NFL in passing yards as a rookie. In 1940, he again led the league in several passing categories including attempts and completions. Following his second season, O'Brien retired to join the FBI.
In his brief, two-year professional career, O'Brien completed 223 of 478 passes for 2,614 yards, and 11 touchdowns. He also played as a defensive back and punter. He intercepted four passes for 92 yards and punted nine times for an average of 40.7 yards per kick.
O'Brien entered the Texas oil business following a ten-year career with the FBI. He died November 18, 1977 in Fort Worth Texas.