Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1969 celebrates 55-year anniversary

Hall of Famers Published on : 7/6/2024
The seventh class enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame reached Canton, Ohio, on Sept. 13, 1969. This class included four revolutionary players and an exceptional coach.

Celebrating the 55-year anniversary of their enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame are the friends and families of tackle ALBERT GLEN “TURK” EDWARDS, coach EARLE “GREASY” NEALE, two-way tackle LEO NOMELLINI, fullback JOE “THE JET” PERRY and defensive tackle ERNIE STAUTNER.

One of the first great linemen in the NFL, Edwards began his nine-season career with the Boston Braves, later known as the Washington Redskins. He signed with the Braves for $150 dollars per game in 1932, a hefty sum amid The Great Depression. Called the “Rock of Gibraltar,” at 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, Edwards was enormous by 1930s standards. Benefitting from his overwhelming strength and power, the franchise won the NFL’s East Division crown in their last year (1936) and claimed its first NFL championship the following year as the Redskins. Edwards’ career earned him a spot on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1930s.

Neale coached the Philadelphia Eagles for 10 seasons. Hired in 1941, he immediately studied the previous year’s NFL championship, a 73-0 beating of the Redskins by the Chicago Bears. Neale became the first head coach to imitate the Bears’ T-formation, and arguably the first to improve it. He developed the “Eagle Defense,” later spawning into a league favorite 4-3 defense. From 1944-49, Neale’s Eagles finished first or second three times each in the NFL East Division. He took Philadelphia to the NFL championship twice, in 1948 and 1949, becoming the only team to win back-to-back titles by shutting out opponents. Neale’s 66-44-5 record still ranks among the best for the franchise, with his coaching mark standing until 2004.

Tagged “indestructible,” Nomellini played 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, never missing a game and retiring at the age of 39. Nicknamed “The Lion,” Nomellini joined the 49ers in its first NFL season after playing in the All-America Football Conference, becoming the team’s first pick in the NFL Draft. His streak of 174 consecutive regular-season games played became even more impressive, as in a time when two-way players was phasing out, he was one of the few players to receive All-NFL recognition on both sides of the ball. In addition to his six All-NFL honors, Nomellini was selected to 10 Pro Bowls and named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1950s and its 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Another standout for the San Francisco 49ers, Perry made history as the team’s first African-American player. Scouted while playing for the Alameda Naval Air Station Hellcats, Perry joined the All-America Football Conference with the 49ers upon his discharge in 1948. San Francisco joined the NFL in 1950, and Perry became a part of one of the greatest offenses of the mid-1950s, dubbed the “Million Dollar Backfield,” alongside Hall of Famers Y.A. TITTLE, HUGH McELHENNY and JOHN HENRY JOHNSON. Perry became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons (1953 and 1954). Playing 14 seasons with the 49ers and two with the Baltimore Colts, Perry accumulated 513 career points and 9,723 rushing yards.

One of the toughest competitors to play the game, Stautner missed only six games in his 14 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1950 to 1963. He became a fixture at defensive tackle, serving as a major force on one of the NFL’s most punishing defenses. During his career, Stautner found himself in the record books twice – with three career safeties and 23 fumble recoveries, tying for first and placing third, respectively, at the time of his retirement. Stautner’s determination and competitiveness earned him nine first-or second-team All-NFL honors, nine Pro Bowl selections and the distinction of becoming the first player to see his number (70) retired by the Steelers, who have bestowed that honor only two other times – for Hall of Famers JOE GREENE (75) and FRANCO HARRIS (32).

2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame anniversary classes