Benny Friedman New York Giants & Brooklyn Dodgers & Cleveland Bulldogs (NFL) & Detroit Wolverines
"Every passer has a little computer in his head. In a split second he has to determine the direction the receiver is going, the distance he’s away from the passer, and the speed he is traveling. With all that data in his mind he must then throw the pass.”
Benny Friedman, a two-time All-America quarterback at Michigan, played with the Cleveland Bulldogs (1927), Detroit Wolverines (1928), New York Giants (1929-1931), and the Brooklyn Dodgers (1932-1934). When he turned pro, the college football sensation was greeted with fanfare that was exceeded only by the media attention given future Hall of Fame halfback Red Grange when he turned pro in 1925. A versatile player and field general, Friedman could run, kick, and most importantly pass the ball better than any player who preceded him and for many years better than those who followed him.
During his first four pro seasons, Friedman’s play was nothing short of remarkable, earning him first-team All-NFL honors each season. Although official statistics were not kept, he is believed to have completed more than half his passes, at a time when 35 percent was considered a very good performance. From 1927 through 1930 Benny tossed 11, nine, 20, and 13 touchdown passes, leading the league each year. In 1928, he led the league in both rushing touchdowns and touchdown passes; no other player has ever accomplished that. His 20 touchdown passes in 1929, including four in one game, were both NFL records for years.
Following the 1928 season New York Giants owner Tim Mara purchased the Detroit franchise just to secure the services of Friedman. Mara’s decision was based not only on the quarterback’s league-leading performances, but also on his all-important gate appeal. He proved to be an asset in both categories, not only for the Giants, but for the emerging pro league as well. Although very durable, a knee injury coupled with the rigors of serving as an assistant coach at Yale, Friedman’s productivity dropped in 1931. Still the player-coach managed to earn third-team All-NFL honors that year and second-team All-NFL honors in 1933.