NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1930s
The National Football League's All-Decade Teams have been determined by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee selected the All-Decade Team of the 1930s retroactively in 1969 in celebration of the NFL’s first 50 seasons.
By the 1930s, a solid foundation had been put into place for the NFL to grow. The decade saw the league adopt major rule changes, divide into divisions, and establish a championship game. The league also began to showcase the talents of its many stars. The first Pro Bowl game was played in 1939.
Coverage of the NFL increased in newspapers across the country. The Green Bay Post Gazette helped recognize players’ accomplishments by picking All-Pro teams in 1930 and 1931. Starting in 1932 and continuing through the early ‘40s, the NFL’s official All-Pro teams were picked annually by the coaches in the league.
Comparing players of this decade, especially as the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee had to do some thirty years later, was made a bit easier by the fact that the NFL began compiling official statistics starting in 1932.
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Pro Career: 1932-36 Chicago Bears; 1937-39 Philadelphia Eagles; 1943 Phil-Pitt. HOF: 1971
Hewitt’s best athletic qualities were his speed and quickness which helped him use trick plays to give his opponents fits. As good as he was on offense; this two-way star was nearly flawless on defense. He earned the nickname “Offside Kid” because of how quickly he attacked after a ball was snapped. Hewitt is the first player in NFL history to earn All-NFL honors with two different teams.
Pro Career: 1935-1945 Green Bay Packers. HOF: 1963
Arguably no player dominated in the NFL like Hutson did during his 11-year career. He was the league’s first player to rack up large receiving stats. He retired holding 18 different NFL records including an incredible 488 catches and 99 TDs. It took decades and multiple players to break his league marks. Hutson also excelled as a defensive halfback and kicker.
College: Notre Dame
Pro Career: 1936-1941, 1945 Boston/Washington Redskins. HOF: 1968
Millner, who retired as the team’s all-time leader in receptions, helped the Redskins to four division crowns during his career. He had two long touchdown catches, 55 and 78 yards, in the Redskins’ win over the Chicago Bears in the 1937 NFL Championship Game. Lesser known is the great blocking ability that Millner demonstrated during his Hall of Fame career.
College: Louisiana State
Pro Career: 1937-1938, 1940 Chicago Cardinals
He only played three seasons in the NFL and just two in the 1930s. Yet, his performance was so spectacular that he warranted inclusion on the All-Decade Team. As a rookie, he set the NFL record with 675 yards receiving that came on 36 catches. A 95-yard TD reception that year was also a new league mark. He followed his rookie season by hauling in 41 catches for 516 yards in 1938. He was named first-team All-Pro both years.
Pro Career: 1931-38 Portsmouth Spartans/Detroit Lions
Despite his monstrous size for this era (6’2”, 238 pounds), Christensen was noted as one of the fastest players in the NFL. He earned first- or second-team All-Pro honors six straights seasons from 1931 to 1936. With Christensen helping lead the way, the Lions led the NFL in rushing three straight years, 1936-38.
College: Santa Clara
Pro Career: 1938-1947 New York Giants
Although his finest years came in the 1940s, this star lineman from the West Coast made an immediate impact with the Giants. As a rookie his contributions helped the Giants win the championship with a 23-17 win over the Green Bay Packers. By his second season he was gaining attention as one of the NFL’s best left tackles.
GLEN (TURK) EDWARDS
College: Washington State
Pro Career: 1932-1940 Boston Braves/Boston Redskins/Washington Redskins. HOF: 1969
A highly-touted Rose Bowl star from Washington State, Edwards was a huge catch for Boston who outbid the New York Giants and Portsmouth Spartans for his services. One of the league’s biggest players at 255 pounds, he was an excellent blocker on offense and a devastating tackler on defense. He was named official All-Pro his first two seasons and again in 1936 and 1937.
Pro Career: 1935-37 Brooklyn Dodgers; 1937-1942, 1946 Green Bay Packers
A teammate of Don Hutson at Alabama, Lee again joined his college teammate when he landed with the Packers after two-plus seasons as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was regarded as one of the premier lineman in the NFL during his career.
College: West Virginia
Pro Career: 1936-1942, 1945-46 Chicago Bears. HOF: 1967
A dominant force of “Monsters of the Midway” Chicago Bears team of this era, Stydahar began his NFL career by earning All-Pro honors six straight times. A two-way player, he was especially effective on the offensive line where he showcased his unusual strength and size combined with speed.
GROVER (OX) EMERSON
Pro Career: 1931-37 Portsmouth Spartans/Detroit Lions; 1938 Brooklyn Dodgers
Emerson quickly established himself as one of the NFL’s elite guards. He earned All-Pro six straight seasons from 1932-37. He played in the memorable 1932 indoor playoff game against the Chicago Bears that determined that year's champion. He nearly stopped the Bears’ Bronko Nagurski on a disputed game-winning TD pass early in the fourth quarter.
Pro Career: 1936-1943 Chicago Bears. HOF: 1965
Fortmann, a very smart player who earned a medical degree after his NFL career, excelled as a two-way star for George Halas’s Chicago Bears. He teamed with fellow Hall of Famer Joe Stydahar on the left side of the Bears line to make for one of the NFL’s most formidable tandems. Fortmann was named first- or second-team All-Pro each of his eight seasons.
CHARLES (BUCKETS) GOLDENBERG
Pro Career: 1933-45 Green Bay Packers
A native of Milwaukee, “Buckets” Goldenberg picked the Green Bay Packers over the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants when he turned pro in 1933. For the next 13 seasons, Goldenberg was a mainstay of Curly Lambeau’s dominant teams. In all, Goldenberg earned All-Pro recognition five times during his career.
College: San Francisco
Pro Career: 1936-1942, 1946 Green Bay Packers
Letlow was the first-ever draft pick of the Packers who made his mark on defense. His finest year came in 1938 when he was named to the NFL’s Official All-Pro team. He played in four NFL championship games including the Packers victories in 1936 and 1939. World War II interrupted his career but he returned for one last season in 1946.
College: Washington State
Pro Career: 1931-1945 New York Giants. HOF: 1963
Hein was a dominant two-way star for the New York Giants for 15 seasons and was most noted for his flawless ability to snap the football, run block as well as protect his quarterback. He also starred at linebacker on defense. He was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1938, a rare honor for someone at his position. In all, he was named All-Pro eight times during his career.
College: Oregon State; Minnesota
Pro Career: 1935-37, 1940-41 Green Bay Packers
Svendsen was a key contributor to the Packers’ championship team in 1936. He left pro football after three seasons to coach a high school team before he returned to play two final seasons with the Packers. Aside from being one of the NFL’s dominant centers, the 6’4” Svendsen also played well at linebacker for Green Bay.
EARL (DUTCH) CLARK
College: Colorado College
Pro Career: 1931-32, 1934-38 Portsmouth Spartans/Detroit Lions. HOF: 1963
He quarterbacked the Lions offense by calling the plays but it was his role as the team’s star runner that gained him his greatest fame. He was the main contributor to a team season rushing yardage record set in 1936 that stood for nearly four decades. An All-NFL pick six times, he had a knack for finding the end zone and led the league in scoring three times. Clark was also the NFL’s last dropkicking specialist.
College: Wisconsin, Regis
Pro Career: 1930-1940 Green Bay Packers; 1944-45 New York Giants. HOF: 1966
Herber’s first pass in the NFL as a 20-year-old rookie was for a touchdown. Known for his long throws, Herber led the NFL in passing three times and amassed more than 8,000 yards and threw an astonishing 81 touchdowns. He returned to the NFL after a three-year retirement due to a man shortage caused by World War II and led the Giants to the 1944 NFL Championship Game.
Pro Career: 1938-1942 Green Bay Packers
An argument could be made that Isbell would be better suited for the All-Decade Team of the ‘40s since he led the NFL in passing yardage and TDs in each of the final two seasons of his career (1941 and 1942). He set the NFL's single-season TD pass record with 24 in his final year. But, his all-around versatility during his first two seasons is what first earned him recognition. Isbell was named first- or second-team All-NFL each year during his brief five-season career.
College: West Virginia Wesleyan
Pro Career: 1932-37 Boston Braves/Boston Redskins/Washington Redskins. HOF: 1968
Battles was the first player in NFL history to rush for 200 yards in a game when gained 215 yards on 16 carries against the New York Giants on Oct. 8, 1933. He led the NFL in rushing twice and was voted All-NFL five times. Two memorable performances came in 1937 when he scored three TDs including a 73-yard run and a 76-yard interception return. A week later in the 1937 NFL Championship Game he ran for 43 yards on the game's first play and later scored the first TD in the Redskins win.
JOHNNY (BLOOD) McNALLY
College: Notre Dame, St. John’s of Minnesota
Pro Career: 1925-26 Milwaukee Badgers; 1926-27 Duluth Eskimos; 1928 Pottsville Maroons; 1929-1933, 1935-36 Green Bay Packers; 1934, 1937-38 Pittsburgh Pirates. HOF: 1963
McNally was truly one of the NFL’s most colorful personalities off the field and had a style of play on the field that matched his flamboyant lifestyle. He possessed great breakaway speed as a runner and receiver. He was also an awesome player on the defensive side of ball and known mostly for his great tackling ability. He bounced between five different NFL teams. His best years came with the Packers.
Pro Career: 1934-37 Chicago Bears; 1938-39 Brooklyn Dodgers; 1940 Green Bay Packers
As a rookie with the Chicago Bears in 1934, Feathers became the NFL’s first 1,000-yard rusher. He averaged an incredible 8.4 yards per carry that season to total 1,004 yards which shattered the league record. He also scored a league-leading 8 TDs. He was named first-team All-NFL that season and was accorded second-team All-NFL honors two seasons later.
ALPHONSE (TUFFY) LEEMANS
College: Oregon, George Washington
Pro Career: 1936-1943 New York Giants. HOF: 1978
Leemans began his NFL career by leading the NFL in rushing as a rookie and was the only first-year player to make the official All-NFL team in 1936. As his career progressed he became the anchor of a Giants team that won three division titles and the 1938 NFL championship. He played both halfback and fullback and also was proficient at throwing the ball. He had 25 TD passes to go with his 17 career rushing touchdowns.
College: New York
Pro Career: 1929-1932 Staten Island Stapletons; 1933-35, 1939, 1944-47 New York Giants; 1936-37 New York Yanks (AFL). HOF: 1967
Strong excelled in nearly every facet of football. He was the hero of the famous 1934 NFL Championship Game when he had two TDs, two extra points, and a field goal to lead the Giants to victory. In all, he was named All-NFL four times and scored 484 career points.
Pro Career: 1932-1941 Green Bay Packers. HOF: 1964
Hinkle was a punishing tackler from his linebacker position but it was as a fullback where he earned his legendary status. The 200-pound fullback pounded opponents for 3,860 career yards which was the most ever at the time of his retirement. He also handled placekicking and punting duties for Green Bay.
Pro Career: 1930-37, 1943 Chicago Bears. HOF: 1963
Nagurski was as tough as they came. His legend as a terrorizing runner and bone-jarring tackler grew quickly around the NFL. He threw the game-winning TD in the 1932 playoff game and a pair of TD passes in the 1933 title game. In all, he was named All-NFL five times and amassed an impressive 4,000 career rushing yards.
NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1940s
PART THREE OF A SERIES. In leading up the announcement of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s during Pro Bowl week, Profootballhof.com examines the previous eight All-Decade Teams. The 1940s team no doubt included SAMMY BAUGH, the Washington Redskins QB who revolutionized the NFL with his passing game. Find out more about all of the members of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1940s.
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