Johnny Lujack, the prestigious Notre Dame quarterback who received the 1947 Heisman Trophy, performed on 3 nationwide championship groups after which starred within the NFL for the Chicago Bears, died on Tuesday in Florida. He used to be 98.
His demise used to be announced through Notre Dame.
When the 1947 faculty soccer season started, Lujack used to be at the duvet of Life mag, kneeling in his inexperienced jersey, gold helmet and pants. He used to be probably the most publicized Notre Dame participant for the reason that Nineteen Twenties, when Knute Rockne, the Gipper and the Four Horsemen reworked a small Roman Catholic college within the difficult to understand town of South Bend, Ind., into a hallmark of pop culture.
Lujack used to be an excellent passer and a superb runner at quarterback, in addition to an excellent defensive halfback, a place-kicker and every so often a punter. He used to be a two-time all-American and performed in just one shedding soccer sport at Notre Dame. He additionally performed baseball and basketball and ran observe.
He used to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1960 and have been the oldest residing winner of the Heisman, the prize awarded every year to university soccer’s main participant.
“He’s probably the greatest all-around athlete I’ve ever seen in college football,” Frank Tripucka, the backup to Lujack at Notre Dame and an established professional quarterback, advised Steve Delsohn for the oral historical past “Talking Irish” (1998.) “He was six foot and maybe 180, but he was just a very tough guy from western Pennsylvania.”
Lujack won loads of fan letters at Notre Dame. While taking part in for the Bears, he portrayed himself within the ABC radio serial “The Adventures of Johnny Lujack,” a 1949 summer season alternative for the long-running “Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy.”
Lujack took over as Notre Dame’s quarterback in November 1943 when Angelo Bertelli left for army provider. He took the Irish to a 9–1 listing and their first No. 1 nationwide rating.
He left Notre Dame for the Navy all through World War II and served aboard a vessel chasing German submarines within the English Channel. He returned in 1946, when the Irish fielded an overwhelming crew composed in large part of battle veterans.
When Notre Dame performed Army in November 1946 in a matchup of unbeaten groups, Lujack used to be hobbled through a sprained ankle, however he performed nevertheless, on each offense and protection. He threw 3 interceptions, however within the 3rd quarter, taking part in at defensive halfback, he stored the day for Notre Dame.
Coming around the box, he pulled down Army fullback Doc Blanchard, the 1945 Heisman winner, at the Irish 36-yard line, creating a low take on as Blanchard raced down the left sideline.
“I was the last guy between him and a touchdown,” Lujack advised The New York Times in 1981. “I read afterward where I was the only guy ever to have made a one-on-one tackle on him. If I’d known that during the game, I’d probably have missed the tackle.”
The so-called Game of the Century led to a 0-0 tie. But Notre Dame (8-0-1) edged out Army for its 2nd nationwide championship, and Lujack used to be named an all-American.
Lujack took Notre Dame to a 9–0 listing and a 3rd nationwide championship in 1947, his Heisman Trophy yr, when he handed for 9 touchdowns and 777 yards and ran for 139, averaging greater than 11 yards according to lift. The Associated Press named him America’s male athlete of the yr.
In January 1948, the Bears signed Lujack to a four-year contract and an advantage, for a complete of about $80,000. (a bit of over $1 million in nowadays’s cash).
Lujack led the NFL in cross completions (162), passing yards (2,658) and landing passes (23) in 1949, when he threw for 6 touchdowns and handed for a league-record 468 yards in a sport towards the Chicago Cardinals. He used to be a two-time Pro Bowl participant and used to be named a first-team all-NFL participant in 1950. He retired after 4 professional seasons to change into a backfield trainer at Notre Dame.
John Christopher Lujack Jr. used to be born right into a circle of relatives of Polish descent on Jan. 4, 1925, within the western Pennsylvania the city of Connellsville. He used to be certainly one of six youngsters of John and Alice (Skowronek) Lujack. His father labored as a railroad boilermaker.
Johnny used to be a celebrity at Connellsville High School in soccer, basketball and observe, and he delighted at listening to Notre Dame video games at the radio. He arrived at Notre Dame in 1942, when Coach Frank Leahy used to be putting in a T-formation to exchange the one wing.
When Bertelli joined the Marines, leaving a Notre Dame crew that had received its first six video games, Lujack actually stepped into his sneakers. “I had a rip in one of my shoes from a cleat in the previous game,” he advised The Times in 1981. “When Bertelli left, I asked for a new pair, and they said, ‘Why don’t you try on Bertelli’s?'” They have compatibility properly, he stated, “so I kept wearing them for the rest of the season.”
Lujack led Notre Dame to a few extra victories, then continued the one lack of his faculty occupation when Notre Dame used to be crushed through the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, which fielded exceptional former gamers who have been in army provider. Bertelli used to be named the Irish’s first Heisman winner on the season’s finish.
When Lujack joined the Bears after his two postwar seasons at Notre Dame, he alternated at quarterback with Sid Luckman and Lujack’s fellow rookie Bobby Layne, each long term Pro Football Hall of Famers. He performed protection as neatly, intercepting 8 passes.
Lujack in the end was the Bears’ No. 1 quarterback and threw for 41 occupation touchdowns whilst dashing for any other 21 in 4 seasons. But he have been hampered in 1950 through accidents to each shoulders; he performed on regardless of the ache, and he used to be rested in spots past due within the 1951 season to maintain his arm power.
When his four-year contract ended, he sought after to be traded. Apart from the battering he had won, he had lengthy been indignant with George Halas, the Bears’ proprietor and trainer. Lujack later recalled that once he tested his contract upon becoming a member of the Bears, he discovered that Halas had altered the wage figures agreed upon, decreasing the whole through $1,500. (Halas, he stated, had briefly restored that quantity when he identified the discrepancy.)
“I don’t mind anyone being a hard negotiator,” Lujack advised Jeff Davis for his Halas biography, “Papa Bear” (2005). “I just don’t want to be cheated because of my inexperience.”
When Leahy presented Lujack a role as an assistant trainer at Notre Dame for 1952, he took it, finishing his professional occupation. But when Terry Brennan, previously an excellent Notre Dame halfback, used to be named head trainer in 1954 upon Leahy’s retirement, Lujack left to run a circle of relatives auto dealership in Iowa. He used to be later a community broadcast analyst for varsity and professional soccer.
Information about Lujack’s survivors and the place in Florida he used to be when he died used to be now not straight away to be had.
Through the years, Lujack remained a respected determine at Notre Dame.
When Notre Dame and Army met for the primary soccer sport on the new Yankee Stadium in 2010, he used to be at the box for the coin toss with the crew captains. In autumn 2012, he used to be a good-will ambassador for Notre Dame when it performed Navy in Dublin.
The reminiscence of his feats continued.
“The two greatest winners of the 1940s were FDR and John Lujack,” Beano Cook, ESPN’s longtime faculty soccer analyst, as soon as stated. “But even Roosevelt won only two elections in the 1940s, while Lujack won three national titles.”