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"Football helped me to get into business. I’ve met many fine people. Football changed my life a lot, an awful lot. It was good to me.”
(Notre Dame)...6'3'', 240...George Leo Connor ... All-American at both Holy Cross, Notre Dame ... New York Giants' No. 1 draft pick, 1946 ... Rights traded to Boston Yanks and then to Bears ... All-NFL at three positions - offensive tackle, defensive tackle, linebacker ... All-NFL five years ... Two-way performer throughout career ... First of big, fast, agile linebackers ... Exceptional at diagnosing enemy plays ... Played in four Pro Bowl games, 1950-1953 ... Born January 21, 1925, in Chicago, Illinois ... Died March 31, 2003, at age of 78.
George Connor earned All-America honors three times, once at Holy Cross in 1943 and then at Notre Dame in 1946 and 1947. During his eight-year career (1948-1955) with the Bears, he was named to the All-NFL team at three different positions — offensive tackle, defensive tackle, and linebacker. In 1952 and 1953, he was named all-league on both the offensive and defensive teams by different wire services.
Although George is remembered as one of the finest of the post-World War II tackles, it was as a linebacker that he made his biggest mark in the pro football world. And it was the sheer necessity of a desperate situation for the Chicago Bears that prompted George's switch to a linebacker position.
The Philadelphia Eagles were running roughshod over the NFL in 1949 and one end sweep with two guards and the fullback leading Steve Van Buren around the flank had been particularly successful. The Bears coaching staff hit upon the idea of moving a big, fast, and agile man like the 6-3, 240-pound Connor into a linebacker’s slot to try to stop the play. The move was made, the experiment was successful, the Eagles were beaten and Connor became a linebacker for keeps.
That didn't mean, however, that he was a one-way specialist. He continued to play offensive tackle, winning All-NFL acclaim on both offense and defense. George was always one of the smartest men on the field wherever he played. He seemingly instinctively knew about keys – the tips that the movements of certain offensive players will provide to the alert defender as to which way the play if going – long before keys became the vogue.
Connor always played the game hard and clean and with exceptional effectiveness and he might have continued in a starring role for many years had not a knee injury cut short his career after the 1955 season.
Full Name: George Leo Connor
Birthdate: January 21, 1925
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Died: March 31, 2003
High School: De La Salle (Chicago, IL)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 11, 1975
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 2, 1975
Presenter: George Halas, Connor's Coach with Bears
Other Members of Class of 1975: Roosevelt Brown, Dante Lavelli, Lenny Moore
Pro Career: 8 seasons, 90 games
Drafted: 1st round (5th overall) by New York Giants
Uniform Number: 71, (81)
George Connor Enshrinement Speech 1975
Presenter: George Halas
Thank you, thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. This day is something special for four exceptional big-league football players who have had many memorable days in the past, but none quite as special or memorable as today when these four will be inducted as the 1975 enshrinees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. My presence on this day makes it something special for me personally. It is my privilege to do the formal honor of doing the presentation to one of the four National Football League's great, George Connor, who brings the Chicago Bears membership in the Hall of Fame up to 15 or exactly the old player limitation we had back in the mid-1920s. As one of the 17 charter members of the Bears, I still remember my own induction day of September 7, 1963 when this great facility was dedicated. I felt emotion non like anything in my athletic career. A thrill that took precedent over any that I have ever experienced since. So, I can understand and share with these all-time pro greats, the overwhelming sense of ecstasy that is there this day - their day. The element recognition of the greatness of the sport that they chose as a career. I am proud of George Connor and grateful as well of his competitive contribution to the Bears, to me and maybe to others to. He seems to be physically as massive today as he was in his eight NFL seasons. He towered 6'3” and hasn't shrunk over these years. He came in at 240 lbs, playing weight and I'll leave it up to him on whether he has added any poundage. He has and still has a measurement of 53'' expanded from normal. The site of this solid muscular athlete in action was inspired by the late sportswriter Grandland Rice to observe. Connor was the closest thing to the Greek God Apolo, not bad.
Well, I still have some notes from the time it appeared in print and sent to me by more than a few of Chicago’s Irish/ American friends from the south side of Chicago. These topped Grandland Rice by pointing out that history shows after Connor’s were teams of Ireland. Some strong leaders such as Connor and Moore who rained in the early century. Such strong leaders as Connor and McNeff one of his successors, not to mentions the fabulous Con and of the 100 pounds, he3 lost only 10. Virtually all of these defeats were close decisions.
Take these remarks as I did check their genealogy. I had Ed McCaskey and Virginia go over to Ireland to check the facts and they did, and they went to Ireland in May of ’73. They went to Gallowrey County, County of Courts, they went to Kildare and Kilonie to verify these facts. So, you see George Connor came from Scotland. There was real flesh and blood not just legendary. He was one of football's last iron men, the 60-minute players that went all the way on offense and defense. Five times he was chosen all NFL, three of those times he had a very rare distinction of being picked on offense and defense. Tackle- on offense and best linebacker on defense for two seasons and defensive tackle are one season. It would rather be difficult for me to go on without saying where he excelled. I would rather have three like him, but I feel fortunate we had one Connor for eight seasons. He was Chicago born and bred, but she had a lot of growing to do from the tiny acorn to a mighty oak. he was a premature birth and weighed only three pounds. As a freshman at Unifell High School in Chicago he weighed 135 pounds and was 5’4”, but three years later he was 6’2” at 215. His collegiate days were divided. 1st at Holy Cross during World War II when he was an all American. We at the bears were fortunate that George insisted that he played Pro Football in Chicago, his hometown, even though he was drafted by the Boston Yanks. We traded Mike Donalon, an all NFL player, originally from Temple, for the negotiation rights for George and he did sign with us.
His career was shortened by at least five seasons, when by a knee injury in the preseason of 1954. He managed a part time service in that season. But in 1955, he came back for the best NFL season. Thundering the training camp of 1956, he came up to me and said “coach I can't do the job anymore. It's my me again and I don't want to be a hanger on”. So many games in individual plays in sequences come to mind when I think of George Connor And I just can't isolate any as his greatest performances. He was just simply great all the way. Going to heroics and completely at these inefficient in that role. George Connor, I bid you welcome to the Pro Football Hall of Fame where you deservedly join other bears as well as other immortals from other times. Thank you.
Fellow Enshrinees, members of the Board of Directors, former enshrines, honored guests and friends. I certainly want to thank my coach, George Halas, and you might have wondered what I just whispered to the old man as we used to call him. I said, “coach I wish you would have said those things many years before we signed the contract.” I do want to thank Ed McCaskey for being my presenter last night. George Halas was busy in Chicago and flew down this morning. I tell you that this is a great drill for an Irishman from the city of Chicago. The morning of the Super Bowl in New Orleans and how-to God, Dick Gallagher ever found me, we were in the Tamernacle Motor Hotel and I dare anyone in the audience to ever stay there and if you go to New Orleans don't stay there. But Gallagher Found me. He called me and said “George I have great news for you, you've been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I was elated a dream come true. And I tell you what, in the past month since early in January, I never realized what could happen to a man's life on a selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. 14 other bears are in this Hall led by the great George Halas. And I want to pay special tribute to George Halas, one of the founding fathers of the NFL as the story goes on the steps of a running board in an auto mobile agency I believe in 1920 the NFL was formed and what a man George Halas has been over the years as a pioneer of the NFL and thank God he was here to be my presenter and thank God there is a George Halas and we have the NFL and we have the NFL in Canton, Ohio. George…
The last number of months. Of course, I played in the early days and we didn't have reruns. But they have reruns now and I have done some work in television and I know what one is. The last four and five months have been a rerun. I want to tell you it has been a rerun of my life. I have been so fortunate to hear from former friends and teachers and coaches and Dave Conlin from the Chicago Tribune has said that George Connor has had more parties before going to the Hall of Fame in Canton that all his relatives are broke. And I will tell you something beautiful, my lovely wife Sue comes from a non-athletic family and it has been tough for her to understand all these parties. She thought I should be out working selling corrugated boxes. But I always try to combine them both.
I would like to sum up my thoughts in that I am lucky man. I am lucky to be with Lenny, Rosie and Dante and for the last three or four days we have been like Blood Brothers, we have been together. We have all experienced the same things that Joe Stydahar told me, and Danny Fortmann told me, you don't really know what is going to happen to you until you get to Canton, Ohio. I go over here late Tuesday night, couldn't go to sleep period I got up Thursday night and Wednesday night I couldn't go to sleep period well, last night I did get a little sleep, but really my thoughts are we are so lucky to be here. And I think we are here for one reason. Number one, we came as George Halas sent some great stock, we had some great parents and I think that is the start of any family. We had great friends, great teachers through grade school, high school and college. We had great friends in growing up. With great coaches in grade school, high school and college. I great coaches all the way in Holy Cross and Notre Dame and frankly had George Halas with the Bears and I do have to have make a special mention of my line coach of the bears Hunk Anderson who to me was one of the greatest defensive coaches.
But I think there is more that makes up a football player then God given gifts which we Were given. I think there are other things and that is your family and your friends. And I'm so proud of my family here, they are all lined up over here and I'm so proud of friends that traveled, and they will be my friends for the rest of my life. And these are not fellows I played with period they're fellows I played against and people I've met in my whole life. So, to sum it up, I would just like to say that I thank God for my God given athletic talent, I think my friends and my coaches and my teammates all along the line for the encouragement and the support they have given me. A particular thanks to my mother for nursing me as an incubator baby. Some people say they left me in too long and that is what happened to my LG feed. But mother gave me my inspiration. Except with high honors in the name of the Connor family and in the name of my coaches, friends and teammates particularly I only wish that my late father, Dr. Charles Conner and my late brother, Chuck, could be here today and accept this high award in their name. Thank you.