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football in 1905

DATELINE 1907 – Football Trickery Abounds

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Brian Meehl is the author of Blowback ’07 (MCP Books, November 1, 2016) and this article is the seventh in a new series discussing the radical changes in football from the 1905 to 1907.  No one masterminds trick plays like Pop Warner and the Carlisle Indians. If “there’s no rule against” (to quote Pop), they do it. In their ’07 game against Syracuse, Pop sprang the “many balls trick.” Each of his backs had a football-sized patch sewn on the belly of their jersey, making fake hand-offs impossible to read. (“Who’s got the ball? They all do!) Pop’s most notorious stunt is the “hidden ball trick.” For the 1903 Harvard game, Pop had elastic sewn into the bottom of the jersey…

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DATELINE 1907 – Helmets, Broken Noses and Pretty Boys

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Brian Meehl is the author of Blowback ’07 (MCP Books, November 1, 2016) and this article is the sixth in a new series discussing the radical changes in football from the 1905 to 1907.  Football introduces the first head protection: the “nose guard.” Who needs a helmet when players grow their hair long for all the skull protection they need. OK, if 1907 players fear a broken nose more than a broken head, are they dumb pretty-boys, or just plain tough? You be the judge. The “starting 11” means just that. You play both ways, offense & defense. Substitutions? Sure, but if you leave the game, you’re done, like in baseball. The only exception is if an injury takes you out, then…

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DATELINE 1907 – Pop Warner Bets Big on the “Air Attack”

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Brian Meehl is the author of Blowback ’07 (MCP Books, November 1, 2016) and this article is the fifth in a new series discussing the radical changes in football from the 1905 to 1907.  Coach Pop Warner, who maligned the forward pass in ’06, is singing a new tune in ’07. In the pre-season, he’s seen his Indians throw spirals that are “deadly accurate.” A change in rules before the ’07 season also smiled on the lowly pass. Instead of an incomplete and untouched pass being penalized by a turnover, such a pass now gets a 15-yard penalty from where the ball is thrown. (The rules guys still hate passing!) But when Pop’s star quarterback for the Carlisle Indians, Frank Mt. Pleasant,…

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DATELINE 1906 – Pop Warner Identifies the “Bastard” of Football

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Brian Meehl is the author of Blowback ’07 (MCP Books, November 1, 2016) and this article is the fourth in a new series discussing the radical changes in football from the 1905 to 1907.  The tale is as wobbly as a bad spiral. Actually, the first passes weren’t spirals. They were lobbed like basketballs and thrown end-over-end. One “first” forward pass was a ref’s blunder. In 1895, as North Carolina played Georgia Tech, the Tar Heels’ punter, about to be blocked, lobbed the ball forward to George Stephens, who ran for a 70-yard touchdown. The Bulldogs’ coach, Pop Warner, protested the illegal pass, but the ref had failed to see it. The TD won the game! In a 1905 game between Washburn…

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DATELINE 1906 – The Forward Pass and Football Fatalities

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Brian Meehl is the author of Blowback ’07 (MCP Books, November 1, 2016) and this article is the third in a new series discussing the radical changes in football from the 1905 to 1907.  None of the new rules were as hotly debated as the “newfangled” forward pass. The good ol’ boys on the Rules Committee wailed, “It’ll turn football into roundball!” (aka basketball). “It’ll sissify the game!” So, to cripple the forward pass in its rookie season, they’ve hit it with strict rules and penalties. If the ball is passed over the line of scrimmage within 5 yards of each side of the center, it’s a turnover to the opponents from where the ball was thrown. A ball thrown across…

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DATELINE 1906 — The Rules of Football are Re-Written

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Brian Meehl is the author of Blowback ’07 (MCP Books, November 1, 2016) and this article is the second in a new series discussing the radical changes in football from the 1905 to 1907.  Last year, President Teddy Roosevelt threw the gauntlet: Football, reform your brutal ways or be abolished! His decree triggered a battle between the good ol’ boys Rules Committee that has dictated the game for decades and college presidents who are sick and tired of seeing their student-athletes being killed and maimed on the football field. In the last days of ’05, the warring groups merged together (in what will become the NCAA). By the spring of ’06, they rewrote the rules of football with a major mandate:…

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DATELINE 1905: Why Did Teddy Roosevelt want Football to be Banned?

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Brian Meehl is the author of Blowback ’07 (MCP Books, November 1, 2016) and this article is the first in a new series discussing the radical changes in football from the 1905 to 1907.  If you think football is dangerous today, take a look at the early 1900s. In 1903, 25 players died from football injuries. The 1905 season claimed 18 lives. Perhaps the most pivotal injury was a Harvard player, Teddy Roosevelt Jr. getting his face staved in. His dad, President Teddy Roosevelt, threatened to abolish football for its “brutality and foul play.” Why was the game so brutal and foul? Because of its origins. The first “rush” was Yale sophomores against Yale freshmen in a rite of passage called “Bloody…

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