HOF Artifact of the Week

HOF Artifact of the Week

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This game ball was used by the Los Angeles Rams to defeat the College All-Stars 10-7 at Soldier Field in the 1952 edition of the annual Chicago Tribune College All-Star Game. The Chicago College All-Star Game was developed by Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward and Chicago Bears owner George Halas.

In 1934 Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly was looking for a sports spectacle to help promote the city’s “Century of Progress” exposition. In response, Halas and Ward developed the College All-Star Game which would pit the NFL Champion versus the nation’s best college football graduates in an exhibition game before the start of the season. Proceeds from the game would go to charity.

The first College All-Star Game debuted on August 31, 1934 with the defending NFL Champion Chicago Bears and the College All-Stars ending in a tie (0-0). Despite the score the game was wildly successful with 79,432 fans attending the game. This crowd was nearly three times larger than the group of fans that saw the 1933 NFL Championship Game (26,000) between the Bears and the New York Giants. The series initially brought a lot of attention and notoriety to the NFL. When the series started, college football was much more popular than the NFL.

By the 1960s and early 1970s the College All-Star Game had become a more lopsided affair and attendance suffered. The last victory for the College All-Stars occurred in 1963. One negative of the series was that any high round draft choices that agreed to play in the exhibition reported late to their NFL teams because they had to practice with their All-Star teammates in Chicago.

By the 1970s many NFL teams were refusing to let their high round draft picks play in the game. The final College All-Star Game was played on July 23, 1976 when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the College All-Stars 24-0. The following year the Chicago Tribune decided to not renew the contract with the NFL for the game citing difficulties in recruiting and high insurance premiums for the players.

Our weekly artifacts and other unique items are featured daily in our docent presentations for visitors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Plan your visit to the Hall to learn more about the collection in our archives.

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