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Red Grange

From Academic Kids

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Timeredgrange.jpg
Time Magazine, October 5, 1925

Harold Edward Grange, better known as Red Grange (June 13, 1903 - January 28, 1991), was a college football player. He was a charter member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He was born in Forksville, Pennsylvania. When he was five, his mother died and his father moved the family to Wheaton, Illinois. In high school, he lettered in four sports (football, baseball, basketball, and track) during each of the four years he was there, and scored 75 touchdowns.

After graduation he went to University of Illinois, where he initially planned to play only basketball and track. He changed his mind, and in his first football game scored three touchdowns against Nebraska. In seven games as a sophomore he ran for 723 yards and scored twelve touchdowns, leading Illinois to an undefeated season as the national champion.

But it was his performance in an October 18, 1924 game against Michigan which began his legend. He opened the game with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Within the next twelve minutes he scored three more touchdowns in three runs totaling 167 yards. These four touchdowns were as many as Michigan had given up in the two previous seasons.

The game inspired Grantland Rice to give him the nickname "The Galloping Ghost" and write the following poetic description:

A streak of fire, a breath of flame
Eluding all who reach and clutch;
A gray ghost thrown into the game
That rival hands may never touch;
A rubber bounding, blasting soul
Whose destination is the goal — Red Grange of Illinois!

He earned All-America recognition three years running, and appeared on the October 5, 1925 cover of TIME.

He signed with the NFL's Chicago Bears the day after his last college game; player/manager George Halas agreed to a contract for a 19-game barnstorming tour which earned Grange a salary and share of gate receipts that amounted to $100,000, during an era when typical league salaries were less than $100/game. That 67-day tour is credited with legitimizing professional football in the United States.

He retired from pro football in 1934, earning a living in a variety of jobs including motivational speaker and sports announcer.

His autobiography, first published in 1953, is The Red Grange Story (1993 paperback edition: ISBN 0252063295). The book was written "as told to" by Ira Morton, a syndicated newspaper columnist from Chicago.

Grange died of pneumonia brought on by Parkinson's disease in Lake Wales, Florida at the age of 87.

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