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Tag: football

10 Football Facts Featuring U.S. Presidents

Today’s guest post comes from Susan K. Donius, Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives.

President Obama is an avid football fan, an interest shared by many of his predecessors in the White House. As young men, several future Presidents played football in high school and college. Other Presidents have enthusiastically assumed the role of First Fan by hosting football teams, viewing parties, and sports writers at the White House. In fact, the history of modern American football is full of Presidential cameo appearances, both on and off the field. With the big game this weekend, here are ten football facts featuring U.S. Presidents.

We’ve also put together a gallery of football-related images from the holdings of the Presidential Libraries of the National Archives.

ONE: William J. Clinton hosted Super Bowl parties at the White House. President Clinton invited friends and family to watch the Super Bowl from the Family Theater at the White House in 1993, 1994, 1997, and 2000. The Clintons’ Super Bowl party was held at Camp David in 1999.

TWO: George H. W. Bush was the first President to perform the Super Bowl coin toss in person. On February 3, 2002, former President Bush went onto the field of the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans to conduct the coin toss for Super Bowl XXXVI. It was the … [ Read all ]

Did Knute Rockne ever box Dwight D. Eisenhower?

Today’s post comes from Christopher Abraham at the Eisenhower Presidential Library. He answers a question each week on Facebook. This week’s Ask an Archivist query comes from Kansas.

“Did Knute Rockne ever box Dwight D. Eisenhower? I heard that this took place in Abilene, Kansas, around 1913.” – Anonymous

We have heard this story before. The legend goes that Rockne, who would later gain fame as a football coach for Notre Dame, traveled the country as an exhibition boxer and took on a young Dwight D. Eisenhower in Abilene. Rockne then attempted to convince him to become a professional boxer.

Unfortunately for presidential and sports historians, this event never took place.

This photograph shows Cadet Eisenhower kicking a football at West Point while NOT being coached by Knute Rockne (Eisenhower Presidential Library).

In a 1947 letter to his former aide Harry Butcher, Eisenhower wrote “There is no truth whatsoever in the story about Knute Rockne trying to interest me in a professional boxer’s career. The people who got that story started took two or three little different incidents, put them all together into a single story, and came up with some weird and wonderful ideas.”

Ann Whitman, the president’s personal secretary, wrote in 1956 that, “the President says there is not a word of truth in this–-and that he never met Knute Rockne until … [ Read all ]

Archives Spotlight: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum

Happy American Archives Month! Throughout October, we’re running a series of “spotlights” on the many locations that make up the National Archives. Have you done research at a Presidential Library?

Unlike the other Presidential Libraries, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library—located in Ann Arbor, Michigan—is geographically separate from the museum, which is in Grand Rapids.

Despite the 130 miles separating these two locations, they form a single institution and share one director, as well as artifacts, documents, and other exhibit materials.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor.

The library focuses on analysis and interpretation of history and policy. Ford and his cabinet’s 1974–77 Presidential papers make up the core of the 25-million-page textual collection and the 500,000-item audiovisual collection. Located on the North Campus of the University of Michigan, it features regular temporary exhibits that pull from the library’s collections.

Like all the Presidential Libraries and National Archives locations, the Ford Library is also a great resource for researchers. There are several oral history and artifact collections, extensive textual material, and some audiovisual materials. Research grants are also available: The Gerald R. Ford Scholar Award is given annually in honor of Robert Teeter, and multiple research travel grants are awarded throughout the year to defray travel, living, and photocopy expenses for researchers.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.

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Green Bay Packer, Detroit Lion, or US President?

“]Gerald Ford, Jr. out on the football field at the University of Michigan, 1933 [GRF-WHPO-H0035(03)]

Gerald Ford, Jr. out on the football field at the University of Michigan, 1933 [GRF-WHPO-H0035(03)

These days, the average NFL player receives about $1.2 million a year, not a bad paycheck for throwing around the old pigskin. After all, that’s three times what the President makes (though he does get free limo rides), and plenty more than your average blogger does (sigh).

But in 1935, playing football wasn’t the glitzy well-funded enterprise it is today. That’s the year the Green Bay Packers went looking for a center, and found future President Gerald Ford. They offered President Ford $110 bucks a game.  Over the course of a season—14 games—that means Ford would’ve squirreled away $1,540, about $24,000 bucks in 2011 dollars, if he had accepted the draft deal.

Ford declined this offer, and another offer from the Detroit Lions to play professional football, and instead made his way over into Yale to study law, then to the Navy to serve his country, then to the House of Representatives, and finally to the White House where, thankfully, the salary was a bit better.

You can learn more at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library’s Facebook page.

Letter from the Green Bay Packers to Gerald Ford (Gerald Ford Presidential Library)

Letter from the Green Bay Packers to Gerald Ford (Gerald Ford Presidential Library)

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