Site search

Site menu:

Find Out More

Archives

Categories

Contact Us

Subscribe to Email Updates

Tag: New England Patriots

Football Friday: Presidents and the Pigskin

With Super Bowl Sunday just two days away, we’ve decided to call an audible and make today’s “Facial Hair Friday” into a “Football Friday.”

When the New England Patriots and New York Giants collide in this year’s Super Bowl, the two teams will be competing for more than just a National Football League championship. The winner will also receive a trip to the White House, a place that many gridiron greats have called home.

Football has a rich history at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Eisenhower was a standout halfback at West Point. Similarly, President Ford was a star at the University of Michigan, ultimately earning contract offers from the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. As for President Reagan, he earned the nickname “the Gipper” after staring as Notre Dame’s George Gipp in the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American.

Several Presidents have also remained loyal fans even after their playing days.

President Kennedy, who went out for the team at Harvard, once called legendary coach Vince Lombardi to ask if he would “come back to Army and coach again.” President Nixon, who played for Whittier College, was known for sending diagrammed plays to the Washington Redskins coaching staff during his Presidency.

Reagan had popcorn (instead of Gatorade) dumped on him by the triumphant Giants during their visit to the White House in 1987. And most recently, President … [ Read all ]

Gridiron in the National Archives

It’s football season again! We’re celebrating with a special post written by Matt Dibiase, an archives technician at the National Archives at Philadelphia.

The October 24, 1955, issue of Life magazine (owned by Time, Inc.) did a pictorial story on excessive violence and dirty play in the National Football League. Back in the 1950s, professional football was far more violent than it is today.

Many of the safety rules and penalties such as the in-the-grasp rule, face-masking, and illegal hitting did not exist. Players could use clothes-line tackles on opponents or grab their opponents by the face mask or use their forearms or elbows to down ball-carriers. Quarterbacks were fair game for any pass-rusher.

Two members of the Philadelphia Eagles are among the players featured in our documents from this rougher time: defensive lineman Francis “Bucko” Kilroy and linebacker Wayne Robinson. The story alleged that both players were dirty players and “ornery critters.”

Kilroy was a living legend in Philadelphia sports history. He was born and raised in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia, played football at Temple University, and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1943. Kilroy played 13 seasons with the Eagles as an offensive and defensive lineman. He was a key member of the Eagles teams that made three consecutive appearances in the NFL championship game from 1947 to 1949 and won the … [ Read all ]