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Tag: Record Group 21

Gridiron in the National Archives

Photograph of Francis “Bucko” Kilroy (1921-2007) one of the two plaintiffs in the case against Time Inc. Image from the holdings of 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. … [ Read all ]