U / G
Class of 1965
First- or second-team All-NFL selections
"The experiences you gain on the football field can be carried over in many other aspects of life. Teamwork is something that’s important in both professions. A surgical team must work together. I learned a lot about teamwork playing football with the Bears.”
Legend has it that George Halas, the owner-founder of the Chicago Bears selected Colgate guard Danny Fortmann as his team’s ninth and final pick in the 1936 National Football League Draft because he liked his name. It was the league’s first draft and not nearly as sophisticated as today’s version.
On the surface, it appeared at first that Halas had made a mistake. At 6’ and weighing 210 pounds, Fortmann who was just 19 years old when he was drafted, appeared to be too small for line play in the NFL. A Phi Beta Kappa scholar, he definitely didn’t possess the usual credentials for someone who was supposed to knock down enemy ball carriers or lead the interference.
By the time his rookie season started, Danny had turned 20 but was still the youngest starter in the NFL. He had determination and talent, however, and soon was excelling as a little man in a big man's game.
On offense, he called signals for the linemen and was a battering-ram blocker. On defense, he was a genius at diagnosing enemy plays and a deadly tackler. For seven seasons, Fortmann and Chicago's No. 1 pick in the historic 1936 draft, tackle Joe Stydahar, were a formidable combination on the left side of the powerful Bears line.
The Bears were a dominant team during Fortmann's career. From 1936 to 1943, the “Monsters of the Midway” won three NFL championships and took divisional titles on two other occasions, and Fortmann was the top man at his position in pro football. He earned first- or second-team All-NFL honors all eight years of his career.
Typical of his hard work and desire to excel, Fortmann continued his education while playing for the Bears and graduated in 1940 from the University of Chicago Medical School.
|Additional Career Statistics: Interceptions: 8-54; Fumble Recoveries for TD: 1|
Full Name: Daniel John Fortmann
Birthdate: April 11, 1916
Birthplace: Pearl River, New York
Died: May 23, 1995
High School: Pearl River (N.Y.)
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: Sept. 12, 1965
Presenter: Andy Kerr, Colgate Head Coach
Other Members of Class of 1965: Guy Chamberlin, John "Paddy" Driscoll, Otto Graham, Sid Luckman, Steve Van Buren, Bob Waterfield
Pro Career: 8 seasons, 86 games
Drafted: 9th round (78th player overall) in 1936 by Chicago Bears
Uniform Number: 21
Dan Fortmann Enshrinement Speech 1965
Presenter: Andy Kerr
Ladies and gentlemen. I feel it a real pleasure to present today and welcome into the National Football Hall of Fame, a Colgate boy, Danny Fortmann. Danny is Colgate's outstanding lineman of all-time. Danny came to Colgate at the age of sixteen. He played his three years of varsity football and finished at nineteen. I told him today I thought he ought to best be starting. He played in the East-West game, and at the end of the game Dick Himmey and I who were co-coaches said they thought he was the greatest guard that ever played in the game. Afterwards he went on to the Bears where for eight years, he was an all-league guard. It I s a great privilege for me to present a great football player, a real scholar because he was a Phi Beta Kappa in college, which is the highest academic rating you can get, a great citizen, and a great surgeon. Congratulations Danny.
I want to thank you very much Andy. Andy said I started as one of the youngest men that he was associated with in football and I can say that I've aged a bit since then. I certainly appreciate everything Andy has done for me in the past, and I appreciate him being my presenter. This is the outstanding honor that anyone could get in the game of pro football. I want to thank my dear friend and pro coach George Halas, and everyone connected with the National Football Hall of Fame. Thank you very much.