January 28: This Date in American Football History

Princeton - Dudley RiggsDudley Riggs was born on this date in 1875 and later became a star football player for the Princeton Tigers.

Riggs followed his older brother Jesse to Princeton, and both players eventually attained All-America status – Jesse in 1890 followed by Dudley in 1895. Both were big guards on the Princeton line, and Dudley helped lead the Tigers to a 10-1-1 finish during his All-America season.

Riggs passed away on May 22, 1913, after contracting pemphigus, commonly known as foot and mouth disease.

Today is also the 25th anniversary of the passing of “Red” Grange –”The Galloping Ghost.”

Grange played for the University of Illinois from 1923-1925 earning All-America honors each season. He is considered one of the college and pro football’s all-time legends, and he has been inducted in both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His signature game in college came against the Michigan Wolverines on October 18, 1924. On the day that the Fighting Illini officially dedicated Memorial Stadium which is still in use today, more than 66,000 fans packed into the facility to see if Grange and his teammates could bring an end to Michigan’s 20-game unbeaten streak.

Grange would prove to be unstoppable that day starting with the opening kickoff which he returned 95 yards for a touchdown. Within the game’s first 12 minutes, Grange would also add touchdown runs of 67, 56 and 44 yards to put the Illini up 27-0. He would eventually account for all six of his team’s touchdowns that day including an 11-yard run and a 20-yard pass in the second half as Illinois upset the Wolverines 39-14.

After graduation, Grange embarked upon a professional football career playing for the Chicago Bears in 1925 before leaving in 1926 to play for the New York Yankees football club in the fledgling first American Football League. That arrangement lasted just one year before Grange’s Yankees were absorbed by the NFL where they would remain until folding in 1929. Grange played with the Yankees in 1927 before injuring a knee that would ultimately lead to him sitting out the 1928 system.

Grange then returned to the Bears from 1929-1934, and he is often credited as the first big NFL star to help bring the league to a wider audience. He passed away on this date in 1991 at the age of 87.




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