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Elmer Layden

From Academic Kids

Elmer Francis Layden (May 4, 1903June 30, 1973) served as Commissioner of the National Football League and as head football coach at Notre Dame.

Layden was born in Davenport, Iowa. At Notre Dame, he played fullback alongside quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, left halfback Jim Crowley, and right halfback Don Miller; the four collectively earned the nickname of "The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame" from legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice, and are still considered one of the best backfields in college football history.

After his playing days, Layden became an assistant coach at Notre Dame, eventually taking over as head coach in 1933 a few years after his legendary mentor Knute Rockne was killed in a plane crash. Layden would lead the Irish for seven years.

Layden left Notre Dame to become Commissioner of the NFL, a post that had been renamed upon him taking the job. (Prior heads of the league had been referred to as "presidents".) In six years as Commissioner, Layden saw the NFL through the World War II years, in which teams had to use many men of inferior abilities as replacements while most of the regulars were fighting in the war, as did Major League Baseball. During this period a few teams temporarily merged due to lack of manpower, most notably the Pittsburgh Steelers with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cleveland Rams ceased operations for a year, while the Brooklyn Dodgers were forced to fold. Shortly after the war ended, Layden retired from the NFL.

After retiring in 1946, Elmer Layden had a successful career in the business world until his death at the age of 70.

Preceded by:
Carl Storck
as President
NFL Commissioners Succeeded by:
Bert Bell
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