Chicago College All-Star Game

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College All-Star Football Classic
First played1934
Last played1976

Recent and upcoming games
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This article is about the specific series played by the NFL champion against college all-stars in Chicago from 1934–1976. For other college all-star games, see List of college bowl games#All-Star games.
College All-Star Football Classic
First played1934
Last played1976

Recent and upcoming games

The Chicago Charities College All-Star Game was a preseason American football game played annually (except in 1974) from 1934 to 1976 between the National Football League champions and a team of star college seniors from the previous year. It was also known as the College All-Star Football Classic.[1] After the Super Bowl began, including the two seasons prior to the NFL/AFL merger, the Super Bowl winner was the professional team involved, regardless of which league the team represented. Thus, the New York Jets played in the 1969 edition, although still an AFL team. The second game in 1935 involved the hometown Chicago Bears, runner-up in 1934, instead of the defending champion New York Giants.

History of the game[edit]

The game was the idea of Arch Ward, the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and the driving force behind baseball's All-Star Game.[1] The game originally was a benefit for Chicago-area charities and was always played at Soldier Field, with the exception of two years during World War II (1943 and 1944) when it was held at Northwestern University's Dyche Stadium in Evanston.

The Chicago game was one of several "pro vs. rookie" college all-star games held across the United States in its early years (the 1939 season featured seven such games, all of which the NFL teams won in shutouts, and the season prior featured eight, with some of the collegiate players playing in multiple games); Chicago's game had the benefit of being the highest profile, with the NFL champions facing the best college graduates from across the country (as opposed to the regional games that were held elsewhere). Because of this, the game survived far longer than its contemporaries.

A football signed by the members of the 1935 Collegiate All-Star Team, including Gerald Ford.

The inaugural game in 1934, played before a crowd of 79,432 on August 31, was a scoreless tie between the all-stars and the Chicago Bears. The following year, in a game that included University of Michigan graduate and future president Gerald Ford, the Bears won 5–0. The first all-star team to win was the 1937 squad, coached by Gus Dorais, which won 6–0 over Curly Lambeau's Green Bay Packers. The only score came on a 47-yard touchdown pass from future Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh to Gaynell Tinsley.[2] Baugh's Washington Redskins lost to the All-Stars the next year; he did not play due to injury.[3]

In the 1940s, the games were competitive affairs that attracted large crowds to Soldier Field. But as the talent level of pro football improved, the pros came to dominate the series. The all-stars last won consecutive games in 1946 and 1947 but won just four of the final 29 games. The Philadelphia Eagles fell in 1950,[4] the Cleveland Browns in 1955,[5] and the Detroit Lions in 1958.[6] The last all-star win came in 1963, when a college team coached by legendary quarterback Otto Graham beat Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, 20–17.[7] In 1949, Ward, who by this time had founded the competing All-America Football Conference, attempted to have that league's champion (the perennially winning Browns) play that year's game instead of the NFL, but the NFL strong-armed the Tribune board into overruling him and renewing its agreement with the NFL.[8]

By the 1970s, enthusiasm for the game started to erode, NFL coaches were reluctant to part with their new draftees (who would miss part of training camp) for an exhibition at which the players might be injured, and a player's strike forced the cancellation of the 1974 game.

The finale took place in 1976 during a downpour at Soldier Field on July 23.[9] Despite featuring stars such as Chuck Muncie, Mike Pruitt, Lee Roy Selmon, and Jackie Slater, the all-stars were hopelessly outmatched by the Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of Super Bowl X. The star quarterback for the College All-Stars was Steeler draft pick Mike Kruczek, out of Boston College. Late in the third quarter, with the Steelers leading 24–0, high winds prompted all-star coach Ara Parseghian to call time out. Fans began pouring out onto the field and sliding on the turf. With the rain getting harder, the officials ordered both teams to their locker rooms. All attempts to clear the field failed; the fans even tore down the goalposts. However, by this time the rain had become so heavy as to make the field unplayable even if order had been restored. Finally, at 11:01 pm NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and the Tribune announced that the game had been called. The news was greeted with jeers, and numerous brawls broke out on the flooded field before order was finally restored. Joe Washington of Oklahoma was selected MVP of this final College All-Star game.[10]

Chicago Tribune Charities had every intention of staging a 1977 game. However, with coaches increasingly unwilling to let their high draft picks play and insurance costs on the rise due to higher player salaries, the Tribune announced on December 21, 1976, that the game would be discontinued.[11]

In the 42 College All-Star Games, the defending pro champions won 31, the All-Stars won nine, and two were ties, giving the collegians a .238 winning percentage.

One aspect of the College All-Star Game was later revived. The concept of the league champion playing in the first game of the season was adopted in 2004 for the National Football League Kickoff game; in that game, the first game of the regular season is hosted by the defending Super Bowl champion.

The game raised over $4 million for charity over the course of its 42 game run.[12]

Game results[edit]

Date playedWinning teamLosing teamAttendance
August 31, 1934College All-Stars0Chicago Bears079,432
August 29, 1935Chicago Bears5College All-Stars077,450
September 2, 1936College All-Stars7Detroit Lions776,000
September 1, 1937College All-Stars[2]6Green Bay Packers084,560
August 31, 1938College All-Stars[3]28Washington Redskins1674,250
August 30, 1939New York Giants9College All-Stars081,456
August 29, 1940Green Bay Packers45College All-Stars2884,567
August 28, 1941Chicago Bears37College All-Stars1398,203
August 28, 1942Chicago Bears21College All-Stars0101,103
August 28, 1943College All-Stars27Washington Redskins748,437
August 30, 1944Chicago Bears24College All-Stars2149,246
August 30, 1945Green Bay Packers19College All-Stars792,753
August 23, 1946College All-Stars16Los Angeles Rams097,380
August 23, 1947College All-Stars16Chicago Bears0105,840
August 22, 1948Chicago Cardinals28College All-Stars0101,220
August 22, 1949Philadelphia Eagles38College All-Stars093,780
August 11, 1950College All-Stars[4]17Philadelphia Eagles788,885
August 17, 1951Cleveland Browns33College All-Stars092,180
August 15, 1952Los Angeles Rams10College All-Stars788,316
August 14, 1953Detroit Lions24College All-Stars1093,818
August 13, 1954Detroit Lions31College All-Stars693,470
August 12, 1955College All-Stars[5]30Cleveland Browns2775,000
August 10, 1956Cleveland Browns26College All-Stars075,000
August 9, 1957New York Giants22College All-Stars1275,000
August 15, 1958College All-Stars[6]35Detroit Lions1970,000
August 14, 1959Baltimore Colts29College All-Stars070,000
August 12, 1960Baltimore Colts32College All-Stars770,000
August 4, 1961Philadelphia Eagles28College All-Stars1466,000
August 3, 1962Green Bay Packers42College All-Stars2065,000
August 2, 1963College All-Stars[7]20Green Bay Packers1765,000
August 7, 1964Chicago Bears28College All-Stars1765,000
August 6, 1965Cleveland Browns24College All-Stars1668,000
August 5, 1966Green Bay Packers38College All-Stars072,000
August 4, 1967Green Bay Packers27College All-Stars070,934
August 2, 1968Green Bay Packers34College All-Stars1769,917
August 1, 1969New York Jets26College All-Stars2474,208
July 31, 1970Kansas City Chiefs24College All-Stars369,940
July 30, 1971Baltimore Colts24College All-Stars1752,289
July 28, 1972Dallas Cowboys20College All-Stars754,162
July 27, 1973Miami Dolphins14College All-Stars354,103
July 26, 1974Canceled due to 1974 NFL strike
Game was originally scheduled between the Miami Dolphins and College All-Stars
August 1, 1975Pittsburgh Steelers21College All-Stars1454,562
July 23, 19761Pittsburgh Steelers24College All-Stars052,095

1 Game was called late with 1:22 left in 3rd quarter because of heavy rain.[9][10]


The Most Valuable Player award was given from 1938 through 1973 and was always awarded to a player on the College All-Stars

1938Cecil IsbellRunning backPurdue
1939Bill OsmanskiRunning backHoly Cross
1940Ambrose SchindlerRunning backUSC
1941George FranckRunning backMinnesota
1942Bruce SmithRunning backMinnesota
1943Pat HarderRunning backWisconsin
1944Glenn DobbsRunning backTulsa
1945Charley TrippiMultipleGeorgia
1946Elroy HirschRunning backMichigan
1947Claude YoungRunning backIllinois
1948Jay RodemeyerRunning backKentucky
1949Bill FischerOffensive linemanNotre Dame
1950Charlie JusticeRunning backNorth Carolina
1951Lewis McFadinMultipleTexas
1952Babe ParilliQuarterbackKentucky
1953Gib DawsonMultipleTexas
1954Carlton MasseyDefensive endTexas
1955Ralph GuglielmiQuarterbackNotre Dame
1956Bob PellegriniLinebackerMaryland
1957John BrodieQuarterbackStanford
1958Bobby MitchellHalfback/Wide receiverIllinois
Jim NinowskiQuarterbackMichigan State
1959Bob PtacekRunning backMichigan
1960Jim LeoEndCincinnati
1961Bill KilmerQuarterbackUCLA
1962John HadlQuarterbackKansas
1963Ron VanderKelenQuarterbackWisconsin
1964Chuck TaylorGuardArizona State
1965John HuarteQuarterbackNotre Dame
1966Gary LaneQuarterbackMissouri
1967Charles SmithDefensive endMichigan State
1968Larry CsonkaRunning backSyracuse
1969Greg CookQuarterbackCincinnati
1970Bruce TaylorDefensive backBoston University
1971Richard HarrisDefensive endGrambling State
1972Pat SullivanQuarterbackAuburn
1973Ray GuyPunterSouthern Mississippi


  1. ^ a b Grogan, John (2000). "The College All-Star Football Classic" (PDF). The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 22 (2). Archived from the original on January 30, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Kuechle, Oliver E. (September 2, 1937). "Sam Baugh's pass, stalwart defense give Stars 6-0 victory over Packers". Milwaukee Journal. p. 5-part 2. 
  3. ^ a b "Isbell sparks rally as All-Stars beat Redskins in second half". Milwaukee Journal. September 1, 1938. p. 6-part 2. 
  4. ^ a b Kuechle, Oliver E. (August 12, 1950). "College stars spring startling upset". Milwaukee Journal. p. 6. 
  5. ^ a b "All-Stars beat Browns 30-27". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. August 13, 1955. p. 7. 
  6. ^ a b Johnson, Chuck (August 16, 1958). "Grid All-Stars slay inept Detroit Lions". Milwaukee Journal. p. 12. 
  7. ^ a b Lea, Bud (August 3, 1963). "All-Stars upset Packers". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2-part 2. 
  8. ^ The NFL's Official Encyclopedic History of Professional Football, 1977: The AAFC, pgs. 245-251
  9. ^ a b "Rampaging fans, rain shorten all-star game". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. July 24, 1976. p. 3B. 
  10. ^ a b Shepard, Terry (July 24, 1976). "Rain and fans do in players". Milwaukee Journal. p. 10. 
  11. ^ "Game ended by Tribune". Milwaukee Journal. December 22, 1976. p. 10-part 2. 
  12. ^ "College All-Star Game: A Charity Dies". Evening Independent. Chicago Tribune. December 22, 1967. p. 1-C. Retrieved January 30, 2012. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]