Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve Its History, Promote Its Values & Celebrate Excellence Everywhere
"Courage is a mysterious quality, touching at times the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, the wise and the fools in a bewildering method of selection.”
(Washington of St. Louis)...6'0'', 175...James Gleason Conzelman. . .Multi-talented athlete, editor, executive, songwriter, orator. . .Began NFL career with Staleys, 1920. . .Player-coach of four NFL teams in the 1920s, including 1928 champion Providence. . .Player-coach-owner of Detroit team, 1925-1926. . .Knee injury ended 10-year playing career, 1929. . .Coached Cardinals to 1947 NFL, 1948 division crowns. . . Born March 6, 1898, in St. Louis, Missouri. . .Died July 31, 1970, at age of 72.
While Jimmy Conzelman was a success at most of his endeavors, which included stints as a newspaper publisher, playwright, author, orator, and actor, it was primarily as a football player and coach that he excelled.
A halfback at Washington University in St. Louis, he began his post-college career as a member of the Great Lakes Navy team that won the 1919 Rose Bowl. One of his Great Lakes teammates was George Halas, who recruited him for his 1920 Decatur Staleys team in the newly formed American Professional Football Association, which later changed its name to the National Football League.
After one season with the Staleys, Conzelman moved on to the Rock Island Independents where he began his career as a player-coach. He stayed with the Independents through seven games of the 1922 season before jumping to the Milwaukee Badgers for the remainder of the season and the 1923 season. Offered an NFL franchise in Detroit in 1925 for a reported $100 investment, Conzelman became an NFL owner. Although the team was fairly successful on the field (8-2-2 in 1925 and 4-6-2 in 1926) the team received little support from the Motor City fans.
Eventually he returned the franchise back to the league and in 1927 joined the Providence Steam Roller as the player-coach. Quarterback Conzelman suffered a knee injury in 1928, but coach Conzelman led the team to an 8-1-2 record and the NFL title. Conzelman left Providence in 1930 wanting to try his hand at other careers. But, in 1940, the popular Irishman was lured back into the NFL with the Chicago Cardinals. He helped the team stay strong during the challenging World War II years before leaving to work in major league baseball. In 1946, Conzelman returned to the Cardinals. The following year his Cards won the NFL title and in 1948 a second straight division title.
Full Name: James Gleason Conzelman
Birthdate: March 6, 1898
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri
Died: July 31, 1970
High School: McKinley (St. Louis, MO)
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: Sept. 6, 1964
Presenter: Justice Williams O. Douglas, United States Supreme Court
Other Members of Class of 1964: Ed Healey, Clarke Hinkle, Link Lyman, Mike Michalske, Art Rooney, George Trafton
Pro Career: 10 seasons, 102 games
Drafted: Conzelman played prior to the NFL Draft being implemented.
Uniform Number: 1
Jimmy Conzelman Enshrinement Speech 1964
Presenter: Mr. Justice William O. Douglas
Mr. Chairman and friends. It is a high honor and a great privilege to present this award to James Conzelman. Jimmy was a player of distinction and renown, he was a coach of great ability, he was owner of a major football franchise, and he has been a football protagonist par excellence. Jimmy is, I think, our fore most after dinner speaker the country over. And he has used that platform to tell the story of football to millions of people. And Jimmy is a citizen of distinction contributing greatly to civic and state affairs. And he is an old, old friend and to be here and take part in this ceremony is a highlight of my life. I am bursting with pride Jimmy, as I give you this award.
Mr. Justice Douglas, ladies and gentlemen. This is a happy fulfillment after our years in the National Professional Football League, and certainly to those of us who love the game and date back to its origin, or close to it. This has to be the greatest thrill we have ever experienced. Now football is a body contact game, requiring no more courage, no more deftness, no more expenditure of physical exertion than many other sports. Still it has certain special demands, which those who played were happy to meet. My one regret is that so many of those who starred in the game and built the game in those difficult early years are no longer with us. Jim Thorpe, Pete Henry, Steve Owen, and many, many more. Those of us who are being inducted today are deeply grateful to the people of Canton, Ohio who made possible The Professional Football Hall of Fame, and who are giving us a day to remember. Thank you.