Johnny Lujack

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Johnny Lujack
Date of birth:(1925-01-04) January 4, 1925 (age 89)
Place of birth:Connellsville, Pennsylvania
Career information
Position(s):Quarterback
College:Notre Dame
NFL Draft:1946 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
Organizations
As player:
1948-1951Chicago Bears
Career highlights and awards
Pro Bowls:2
Awards:1947 Heisman Trophy
Career stats
Playing stats at NFL.com
 
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Johnny Lujack
Date of birth:(1925-01-04) January 4, 1925 (age 89)
Place of birth:Connellsville, Pennsylvania
Career information
Position(s):Quarterback
College:Notre Dame
NFL Draft:1946 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
Organizations
As player:
1948-1951Chicago Bears
Career highlights and awards
Pro Bowls:2
Awards:1947 Heisman Trophy
Career stats
Playing stats at NFL.com

John Christopher Lujack, Jr.[1] (pronounced Lu' jack; born January 4, 1925) is a former American football quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.

He played college football for the University of Notre Dame, and professionally for the Chicago Bears. Lujack was the first of several successful quarterbacks who hailed from Western Pennsylvania. Others include Pro Football Hall of Fame members Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana and George Blanda.

Biography[edit]

Lujack was born to Alice and John, Sr.,[2] in 1925 at Connellsville, Pennsylvania,[3] the youngest of four sons and fifth child in a family of six children.[3] The family, which included older siblings Valentine ("Val"), Stanley ("Stan"), Victoria, Aloysius ("Allie"), and younger sister Dolorous,[2][4] is of Polish descent.[3][1][5] His father, John, Sr., worked for the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad for thirty years as a boiler-maker.[5]

He was on the Connellsville High School football team from 1939 to 1941, and was also senior class president and valedictorian.[6] He lettered in four sports; baseball, football, basketball, and track, in high school.[2][7]

His 1941 high school team, named the Cokers for workers in the coal milling industry who feed the ovens, went 8-0-1, but did not get to play for the WPIAL league championship because their last game, with Brownsville, ended in a 13-13 tie.[8]

People in Connellsville had wanted him to go to the United States Military Academy (Army) at West Point, going so far as to asks their local congressman for an appointment, but Lujack, a fan of Notre Dame from listening to their football radio broadcasts, had his heart set on playing in South Bend.[9][10] He was the first Connellsville High School student to receive an appointment to Army.[2]

Lujack attended Notre Dame, where he was given a scholarship by Frank Leahy, from 1942–1943 and then 1946-1947, his career was interrupted for two years by World War II after his sophomore season, where he served in the United States Navy. His time in the Navy was spent hunting German submarines in the English Channel as an ensign.[9][10]

When he returned from the Atlantic (ETO) duty he appeared on the cover of the September 29, 1947, issue of LIFE.[11] He led the 1947 Fighting Irish to 9-0 record for his senior year, where he completed 61 passes on a 109 attempts for 777 yards and also ran 139 yards on 12 carries, and won the Heisman Trophy.[8] As he had in high school, he once again received varsity letters (called "monograms") in four sports (again baseball, football, basketball, and track) while at Notre Dame, becoming the third person to do so.[9] He was a two-time All-American (1946 & 1947) and led Notre Dame to three national championships (1943, '46 and '47).[12][13] And, in addition to winning the Heisman, he was named Associated Press Athlete of the Year.[10]

He was paid USD$17,000 for his rookie 1948 season and $20,000 for his fourth and final season.[8] In his rookie season he played defensive back where he had 8 interceptions for 131 yards and kicked 44 out of 46 extra points.[8][14]

In the summer of 1949 he starred in a radio program on ABC, The Adventures of Johnny Lujack, was a summer time replacement for the Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy show. It was a 30-minute program and broadcast on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.[15] The show was broadcast from the studios of WGN in Chicago over the Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS) and ran for 13-weeks.[16]

In the final game of the 1949 season, the 9 and 3 Bears defeated their hometown rivals, the Chicago Cardinals (6-5-1), by a score of 52-21, on December 11. In that game Lujack threw six touchdown passes and set an NFL record with 468 passing yards.[17][18] That record was broken at the beginning of the 1951 season by Norm Van Brocklin when he threw for 554 yards in a game between the Los Angeles Rams and New York Yanks, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 28, 1951,[19][20] a record that still stands after over 60 years.[21]

His wife is the former Patricia Ann "Pat" Schierbrock, daughter of Josephine (née Wilson) and Frank H. Schierbrock.[22] Lujack and Schierbrock were married in Davenport, Iowa at the Sacred Heart Cathedral on June 26, 1949.[12][23] They have three children,[24] Mary Pohlmann, Jeff, and Carol(1954-2002).[25]

Sid Luckman and George Blanda played behind Lujack in the rotation at quarterback for the 1949 and 1950 seasons.[26][27]

During the 1950 Chicago Bears season Lujack set an NFL record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback at 11. This record was tied by Tobin Rote with the Green Bay Packers in 1956, and broken by the New England Patriot's Steve Grogan in 1976.[28][29] Lujack, named to the 1950 All-Pro First Team, also set a Bears record for 109 total points in a season with 11 touchdowns, 3 (out of 5) field-goals, and 34 (out of 35) extra points.[30] That record was surpassed by Gale Sayers in 1965 with 123 total points.[31]

After four years with the Bears he returned to Notre Dame as an assistant coach, for 1952 and 1953, to repay Frank Leahy as a debt of gratitude for giving him a scholarship to Notre Dame.[6][8] Leahy wanted Lujack to succeed him as the head coach of the Fighting Irish, but Terry Brennan was chosen instead by Reverend Theodore Hesburgh, the university president.[32]

In 1954 he then went into the car dealership business with his father-in-law, at Lujack Schierbrock Chevrolet Company of Davenport, Iowa.[6][33] He sold his dealership interest to his son-in-law in 1988.[34]

Lujack served as a color commentator, opposite play-by-play man Chris Schenkel for the New York Giants games on CBS NFL telecasts for a number of years in the late 1950s and early 1960s.[24][35][36] But, in 1962 when Ford signed on as a major sponsor, and they learned that Lujack was a Chevrolet dealer, he was replaced by Pat Summerall.[36][37] He also worked with Jim McKay on CBS doing college football. And on ABC college football telecasts in the late 1960s.[citation needed]

On June 8, 1978, Lujack was inducted into the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame. {http://polishsportshof.com/inductees/football/johnny-lujack/}

In 2005 he donated $50,000 to Connellsville High School toward a new field house for the football stadium.[6] It was later named Johnny Lujack Field House.[6] The Johnny Lujack Training Facility was formally dedicated in 2009 and he was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame.[10]

He now lives in Bettendorf, Iowa,[6][8] and also has a home in Indian Wells, California where he spends his free time golfing.[38]

He is currently the oldest living Heisman Trophy winner.[39]

College statistics[edit]

YearCompAttComp %PassingTD
19464910049.07786
19476110956.07779

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Johnson, Rafer (2009), Great Athletes, Salem Press, p. 278, ISBN 978-1-58765-473-2 
  2. ^ a b c d Markoe, Arnie, ed. (2002), The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives: Sports Figures, Volume 2, C. Scribner's Sons, p. 79, ISBN 978-0-684-80665-5 
  3. ^ a b c Current Biography Yearbook: Volumes 1-31, H.W. Wilson Company, 1948, p. 404 
  4. ^ Luczak. - Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania. - 1930 United States Census. - United States Census Bureau.
  5. ^ a b Silverman, Al (1971), The Best of Sport, 1946-1971, Viking Press, p. 22 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Kroeger, Judy (September 20, 2005), "Football great donates $50,000 for new field house", Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (The Daily Courier (Connellsville)) 
  7. ^ "Life's Cover", LIFE, September 29, 1947: 29 
  8. ^ a b c d e f White, Mike (September 14, 1994), "Johnny Marching Home for Connellsville Honor", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: D-1,D-5 
  9. ^ a b c Pennington, Bill (2004), The Heisman: Great American Stories of the Men who Won, HarperCollins, pp. 92, 94, ISBN 978-0-06-055471-2 
  10. ^ a b c d Dvorchak, Robert (July 14, 2009), "Lujack heads inaugural class", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 
  11. ^ "Life's Cover", LIFE (Time, Inc.), September 29, 1947: (front cover), ISSN 0024-3019 
  12. ^ a b "Milestones", TIME, July 5, 1948 
  13. ^ Marder, Keith; Mark Spellen; and Jim Donovan (2001), The Notre Dame Football Encyclopedia, p. 128 
  14. ^ "Johnny Lujack", Pro-Football-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC.) 
  15. ^ "'Lujack' Replaces 'Jack Armstrong'", Billboard, June 4, 1949 
  16. ^ Federal Communications Commission reports 32, Federal Communications Commission (printed by United States Government Printing Office), 1962, p. 1003 
  17. ^ Warren, Harry (December 12, 1949), "Lujack Sets Mark in 52-21 Rout of Cards", Chicago Tribune: C1 
  18. ^ "Chicago Cardinals 21 at Chicago Bears 52", Pro-Football-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC.), December 11, 1949 
  19. ^ Finch, Frank (September 29, 1951), "Van Brocklin's 554 Air Yards Spark Ram Win", Los Angeles Times: B1 
  20. ^ "New York Yanks 14 at Los Angeles Rams 54", Pro-Football-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC.), September 28, 1951 
  21. ^ "NFL Single Game Passing Yards Leaders", Pro-Football-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC.) 
  22. ^ Curtis, Georgina Pell; and Benedict Elder, ed. (1960 & 1961), The American Catholic Who's Who, Volume 14, Walter Romig, p. 410 
  23. ^ "Miss Schierbrock and Lujack Married In Davenport Church", Chicago Daily Tribune, June 27, 1948: A3 
  24. ^ a b Markoe. - p.74.
  25. ^ quad cities times 5-30-2002
  26. ^ "1949 Chicago Bears", Pro-Football-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC.) 
  27. ^ "1950 Chicago Bears", Pro-Football-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC.) 
  28. ^ "Patriots 27, Saints 6", Telegraph Herald (United Press International), December 5, 1976: 13 
  29. ^ Bedard, Greg A. (December 4, 2011), "Grogan reflects on his record-setting feet", The Boston Globe (The New York Times Company and BostonGlobe.com) 
  30. ^ "Walker, Geri, Motley, Fears Unanimous All-pro Choices", The New London Evening Day (Associated Press), December 28, 1950 
  31. ^ "Sayers Awarded Game Ball for 2d Time", The Boston Globe, December 13, 1965: 25 
  32. ^ Davis, Jeff (2006), Papa Bear: The Life and Legacy of George Halas, Publisher McGraw-Hill Professional, p. 240, ISBN 978-0-07-147741-3 
  33. ^ Motor (Hearst Corp.) 116, 1961: 44 
  34. ^ Pennington. - p.96.
  35. ^ Adams, Val (July 22, 1956), "TV-Radio Notes", The New York Times 
  36. ^ a b Davis, Jeff (2007), Rozelle: Czar of the NFL, McGraw-Hill Professional, p. 133, ISBN 978-0-07-147166-4 
  37. ^ Summerall, Pat (2006), Summerall: On and Off the Air, Thomas Nelson, p. 81, ISBN 978-0-7852-1492-2 
  38. ^ Heisman Trophy Trust. "Johnny Lujack Heisman Trophy Bio". Heisman Trophy Biographies. Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  39. ^ ""Where Are They Now?" Heisman Trophy Edition". lostlettermen.com. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Local broadcasters with CBS trimmings
The NFL Today (as Pro Football Kickoff) host
1960-1961
Succeeded by
Kyle Rote