Johnny Blood

topic posted Sun, December 4, 2005 - 6:10 AM by  Roger
Speakin of the Men .... olde school no pansy asss wimpy WR... real men... lock up your daughters and wives we commin to town... class acts all the way and im but one percent of these guys forever they in my HOF....

Etched in 'Blood'
Legendary McNally was one of a kind
Special to Packer Plus
Posted: July 13, 2005

"There was never a guy in football like Blood - never. All who ever played with him agree - the Cal Hubbards, the Lavvie Dilwegs, the Bo Molendas, the Cecil Isbells, the Don Hutsons, an impossible lot of contemporaries at first glance, perhaps, but really not impossible at all . . .

Click to enlarge

Photo/Martin Hendricks

Johnny McNally, the “Vagabond Halfback,” has his rightful place among legends and former teammates, Clarke Hinkle and Don Hutson, in the Packer Hall of Fame.
Related Coverage
New Richmond: The 'Vagabond' came home to rest
Quotable: More to say about Johnny 'Blood' McNally

The boyhood home of Johnny 'Blood' McNally where he grew into an NFL legend, still stands tall in New Richmond, Wis.
The McNally File
• Date of birth: Nov. 27, 1903 in New Richmond, Wis.
• Date of death: Nov. 28, 1985 in Palm Springs, Calif.
• Nickname: The Vagabond Halfback.
• College: St. John's (Collegeville, Minn.) 1920-'23. (Received honorary degree in 1984).
• Position: Halfback.
• Packer years: 1929-'33 and 1935-'36.
• Packer highlights: Key contributor on Green Bay's powerhouse teams that won three consecutive NFL Championships in 1929-'31, plus a fourth title in 1936. . . . Led the NFL in scoring with 84 points on 14 touchdowns in 1931. . . . All-NFL selection in 1931. . . . Second-team all-NFL in 1929-'30. . . . A charter member of the NFL Hall of Fame, 1963. Inducted with fellow Packers greats Curly Lambeau, Don Hutson, and Cal Hubbard.
• Jersey numbers: No. 14 (1933); No. 24 1929-'30; No. 20 (1931-'32); No. 26 (1935-'36).
• Other Pro teams: Milwaukee Badgers (1925), Duluth Eskimos (1926-'27), Pottsville Maroons (1928), Pittsburgh Pirates (1934, 1937-'38).
• Coaching Experience: Pittsburgh Pirates (1937-'38); St. John's, Collegeville, Minn. (1949-'51)

Mari Driscoll, at the McNally family cemetery plot, holds a sketch of Johnny “Blood.” Driscoll is the daughter of Ruth McCabe, 81, owner of the Shamrock Bar, a favorite watering hole of McNally in New Richmond.

John was at the end of his NFL career with Pittsburgh. My father, Art, always said, ‘Usually the coach has to worry about the players. With Johnny, the players had to worry about the coach.’ My dad loved him dearly and they were very close friends.

- Dan Rooney,
Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman of the Board

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Johnny McNally, at home in Palm Springs, Calif. in 1983, sits with a tool of his former trade close at hand.

Johnny Blood is a huge figure in the history of the Green Bay Packers. I never met him, but I know he was a great athlete and very intelligent person. He was a wonderful player for Curly Lambeau, but I think he drove Curly crazy at times.

- Bob Harlan,
Green Bay Packers President & CEO

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Johnny McNally and his second wife, Catherine, were married in Las Vegas in 1966.

Johnny wasn’t a very good card player, but I think he enjoyed BSing with the guys. He’d stop in the middle of the game and ask me a question like, ‘Hornung, what have you learned about life?’ He’d throw in philosophy on me all the time. We (the Lombardi-era Packers) all loved Johnny Blood — he was one of a kind.

- Paul Hornung,
former Green Bay Packer halfback

Click to enlarge

Photo/Martin Hendricks

Johnny McNally is buried in the family cemetery plot in New Richmond, Wis., where he was born in 1903.

We were at an NFL alumni event, and Hornung, Max, and Fuzzy and I played poker with him all night long. We heard all the stories, breaking curfew, walking out on the ledge of the Northland Hotel. He was doing some Hornung-esque things 40 years before Hornung.

- Jerry Kramer,
former Green Bay Packer guard
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"There was nothing boastful about Blood or synthetically erudite. He argued on things because he really knew them and because he happened to hold strong opinions. He traveled with bums on occasion because he wanted their company. He recited poetry - and he could do this by the hour - because he liked it."

- Oliver Kuechle, Milwaukee Journal
Green Bay - Suffice it to say Johnny "Blood" McNally was one of a kind. In the storied history of the Green Bay Packers, arguably no other player possessed as much natural athletic talent, intelligence, and personality.

His alias, borrowed from the Rudolph Valentino movie "Blood and Sand," protected his college eligibility while playing professional football as a student at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn. His nickname, the "Vagabond Halfback," was penned by a Milwaukee sportswriter because of his numerous travels and adventures by rail.

A gifted student with a near photographic memory and love of literature, McNally graduated from high school in New Richmond, Wis., at age 14 and dropped out of St. John's his senior year to pursue a pro career. It began in 1925 with the Milwaukee Badgers, featured two seasons with the Duluth Eskimos, and one with the Pottsville Maroons. In 1929, Packers head coach Earl "Curly" Lambeau enticed the 26-year-old McNally to Green Bay for $100 per game.

The colorful McNally would end his seven-year Packer career the same way it started: with a National Football League championship. He was a key contributor on powerhouse Packer teams under Lambeau that won three consecutive NFL championships from 1929-'31, plus a fourth title in 1936. He also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1934 season and was their player-coach in 1937-'38. Staying true to his free-spirited nature, McNally wore five different uniform numbers -14, 20, 24, 26, and 55-during his Packer career.

Noted for his blazing speed, the 6-1, 189-pound halfback was an elusive break-away threat as a runner and generally regarded as one of the premier NFL receivers of his time - and McNally played with the legendary Don Hutson for two seasons.

In the iron-man age of professional football, McNally was a standout on defense as well. An aggressive ball-hawking defender and sure tackler, he also could punt and pass with the best. He scored 49 touchdowns and 297 total points in 14 seasons with five NFL teams, and led the NFL in scoring with 84 points on 14 touchdowns (2 rushing, 11 receiving, 1 interception return) in 1931.

His off-the-field antics often overshadowed his accomplishments on the gridiron.

"Foremost, Johnny Blood was truly a great football player," said Lee Remmel, Packer team historian. "He played a significant role on the Packers' early championship teams and was a charter inductee in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, along with three other Packer greats (Lambeau, Hutson, and Cal Hubbard). That honor speaks for itself.

"Contrary to popular opinion, I never did see him play, but met and interviewed him in my days at the (Green Bay) Press-Gazette. He was probably the most colorful character to ever wear a Packer uniform and one of the most interesting and intelligent people I've ever met. I don't think there will ever be another one quite like him. I believe the best summation of Johnny Blood was authored by his wife (Marguerite) who said: 'Even when Johnny does the expected, he does it in an unexpected way.' "

Remmel laughed as he recalled some of McNally's stunts.

"Johnny gave Curly (Lambeau) fits over the years with his nocturnal escapades, of which there were many," he said. "On one occasion, Lambeau locked him in his hotel room the night before a game against the Bears in Chicago so he wouldn't break curfew and go out on the town.

"Being resourceful, Johnny had other ideas and reportedly tied bed sheets together and climbed down through the hotel window. Though I can't confirm it, another story told of Johnny missing the team train and then stopping it with his car.

"Before the 1929 season, Johnny Blood played for the Pottsville Maroons, and Curly offered him $100 per game to play in Green Bay via a letter, with a P.S. that if he stopped drinking by Wednesday night of each game week he'd pay him $110 per game. Johnny wrote back: 'I'll take the $100.' That was typical Johnny Blood."

Dan Rooney, Pittsburgh Steelers' Chairman of the Board, has fond memories of McNally.

"I remember going to training camp with my father (Art, team founder) and first going to games in 1937, so I did see Johnny Blood play when I was 4 or 5 years old," Rooney said.

"I remember him well. As a coach, he didn't experience much success with us. But I always thought of the guys from the past that could play in the NFL today, Johnny Blood was one of them. In my opinion, he'd have been a first-round draft choice. He was fast and versatile and an excellent receiver. And he was versatile off the field as well."

One exploit stands out in Rooney's mind.

"One thing I'll never forget about Johnny is that he became friends with the famous actor, John Barrymore," he said. "Barrymore would do a show at the theater in Pittsburgh and he'd call Johnny up out of the audience and they'd recite Shakespeare together. Not too many player/coaches in that day could recite Shakespeare."

Another favorite story of Rooney's involved the Pittsburgh players' friendly wagering on who could telephone a girlfriend from the farthest city.

"There'd be so much money on the table and guys would be calling girls from Chicago or California or New York," Rooney recalled with a laugh. "Johnny Blood picked up the phone and called a girl in South Africa."

From his humble childhood in New Richmond, Wis., McNally would literally travel around the country and world during and after his professional football career. He was married twice, had no children, and spent nearly a decade each in New Richmond and St. Paul before moving to Palm Springs in 1979 until his death in November 1985.

Long-time friend John Doar, a New Richmond native and former U.S. assistant attorney general and Watergate prosecutor now residing in New York, described McNally as "a free spirit who was a very kind person. As a 16-year-old kid, I asked him if I could be the water boy at training camp in Pittsburgh. He let me, but only after getting the approval of my parents. He would never intentionally hurt anyone, and had a grace and charm that quickly endeared himself to people.

"Johnny basically did it all, from professional football to visiting the White House to traveling the world."

Gerald Holland of "Sports Illustrated" wrote the following summary of McNally's resume:

"McNally had been around a bit. He had taught history and economics at his alma mater, St. John's University in Minnesota. He had entered the University of Minnesota to study for his Master's degree at the age of 50. He had started writing a book on economics, a work still in progress. He had read law as a clerk in his uncle's law firm. He had run (unsuccessfully) for sheriff of St. Croix County, Wis., on a platform promising honest wrestling.

"He had been an Air Force staff sergeant and cryptographer in India and China during World War II. He had done a few things calling for less intellectual challenge. He had tended bar in Shanty Malone's place in San Francisco. He had been a stickman, a croupier in a gambling house. He had been a seaman, a newspaper stereotyper, a miner, a farmhand, a feed salesman, a floor waxer, a sportswriter, a hotel desk clerk, a pick-and-shovel worker on a WPA project in Los Angeles during the Depression. He had spent a night in jail in Havana for fist-fighting over a matter of principle.

"In between all this, he played some football - a lot of extraordinary football."

After his playing and coaching career, McNally enjoyed returning to Green Bay for NFL alumni events.

"I met Johnny Blood a couple of times," former Packer guard Jerry Kramer recalled. "Johnny was quite a character. Very bright. Proud. Opinionated. A sharp storyteller. I thought he was something really special. I enjoyed being around him.

"At one point, Johnny was getting on me, saying, 'So you're a writer?' He asked me if I knew the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I said, 'No, I don't.' He said I should look it up."

Another famous Packer running back noted for testing curfews, Paul Hornung, chuckled as he thought of a picture of him and McNally hanging in his Louisville, Ky., office.

"It's a picture of Johnny Blood and me that was taken up in Wisconsin," Hornung said, "And it's signed: 'Two of a Kind.' I think Johnny outdid me, but then I played under Vince Lombardi."

Dick Schaap, the late sportswriter and author, said: "Curly Lambeau, Cal Hubbard, Don Hutson, and Clark Hinkle were four of the first five Packers elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It's not hard to understand why they haven't named a boulevard after the fifth, Johnny Blood. There is, however, a local beer named after him. You can get a glass of Johnny Blood Red at Titletown Brewery."

The Packers honored McNally by naming a banquet room after him in 2003 within the Lambeau Field Atrium. Bart Starr, Paul Horning, and Willie Davis were also recognized in this fashion.

"It seemed very fitting," Packer president Bob Harlan said. "Unfortunately, I couldn't reach any of Johnny's relatives to get their blessing, but we wanted to honor Johnny Blood for his Hall of Fame career. He's a special part of our team's early history."

"I think football was an escape from another kind of life, and I enjoyed it so thoroughly I was always congratulating myself that I was able to find an escape so tolerable to me. To maximize my life. In Green Bay I was intoxicated with the freedom . . . I had no more thought of the future. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Let the morrow take care of itself."

- Johnny Blood, (as told to John Doar)

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Tue, November 29, 2005 - 7:58 PM
Re: Bear Down Chicago Bears
in response to: Re: Bear Down Chicago Bears
Great fight sounds..... I find when the curse i live "long life in interesting times" gets to much i go back a few years like 50 or so and all is good.. nothing like a marching band and imaging a stand up seat dressed like Big Al smokin a big cigar watchin Red Grange the galloping ghost or Bronko Nagurski and Johny Blood ................ Here's a little story Mr Blood was coach of the Lions..he was in the stands in Wrigly watchin Da Bears and a fan said hey ain't you the coach of the Lions and Blood said yea what its to you sucker... and the Fan said your teams playin now in Detroit now ............... that is exactly how i feel about work and in that spirit i will work 13 full days 3 partial days and the rest of December thinkin and dreamin football ... and eatin ohh chocolate yea............and smokin Big cigars.....

here's the link to the fight songs...............

"Bear Down, Chicago Bears"

RealAudio: Marching Band (241 Kb)

Bear down, Chicago Bears,
Make every play clear the way to victory.
Bear down, Chicago Bears,
Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly.
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation,
With your T-formation.
Bear down, Chicago Bears,
And let them know why you're wearing the crown.
You're the pride and joy of Illinois,
Chicago Bears, bear down.
- - - by Al Hoffman (Jerry Downs), 1941

"Chicago Bears Fight Song"

From the East and from the West,
They send their very best
To play against the pride of old Chicago.
There is none of them compare with our Chicago Bears.
Through the line they go,
Hold them down Chicago, Hold them down,
Is the cry of everybody in our town.
Just watch the way they meet and tumble their foe,
Out to win Chicago Bears, they will always go.
Cross that line Chicago, cross that line,
That's the way to play, you're doing fine,
And when the season's o'er and you have to play no more,
Chicago Bears will stand out fore.
- - - by ???, 1922
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