Before he dominated on the skilled level, Trippi — who was born greater than a century ago on Dec. 14, 1921, in Pittston, Pennsylvania — starred at Georgia, eventually earning a spot within the College Football Hall of Fame. With Trippi serving within the Air Force during World War II, his UGA stay was sandwiched around his service time. He led the Bulldogs to a Rose Bowl win in 1943, earning game MVP honors. Three years later, he was the Maxwell Award winner as essentially the most outstanding college football player in America.
The beginning of Trippi’s NFL voyage was front-page news. Also a standout baseball player for Georgia, Trippi turned down multiple offers from Major League Baseball teams. The Latest York Yankees football team tried to lure him into the All-America Football Conference, but Trippi signed with the NFL’s Cardinals on a then-record $100,000 contract.
Playing halfback as a part of the “Million Dollar Backfield” that also included quarterback Paul Christman, halfbacks Elmer Angsman and Marshall Goldberg and fullback Pat Harder, Trippi led Chicago to fast success. In Trippi’s 1947 rookie campaign, the Cardinals won the NFL Championship, 28-21, at Comiskey Park over Steve Van Buren’s Philadelphia Eagles. Contending with an icy field, along with the Eagles, Trippi famously sported basketball shoes for higher footing. Sensational within the clutch, Trippi scored the title game’s first touchdown on a 44-yard run after which added one other rating on a 75-yard punt return. He finished the sport with 206 all-purpose yards.
A 12 months later, the Cardinals and Eagles collided again within the title game. This time, though, Philadelphia and the weather got the very best of Trippi and Chicago. Played at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, the 1948 NFL Championship Game was the primary league title affair to be televised. It was also played amid blizzard-like conditions that delayed the beginning of the sport. Trippi was held to 26 yards on the bottom, and Van Buren’s fourth-quarter touchdown run stood because the only rating of the sport in a 7-0 Eagles win.
The Cardinals would not return to the postseason for the rest of Trippi’s time within the league, however the Swiss Army Knife still made a long-lasting impression on the football world. Trippi eventually became the team’s starting quarterback. He also served because the Cardinals’ primary punter. Again, the person did all of it.
All these years later, Trippi became just the second Pro Football Hall of Famer (Clarence “Ace” Parker was the primary) to hit 100 years old on Dec. 14, 2021. Along the way in which, Trippi saw the sport transform in front of him, after the $100,000 rookie had paved the way in which a long time and a long time ago.
Perhaps North America’s best athlete of all time, the legendary Jim Thorpe once called Trippi the “biggest football player I even have ever seen.”
An all-time great on the gridiron who was an emblem of versatility, he was a trailblazer and a treasure.
Charley Trippi was one for the ages.