blame Frank Leahy for the Patriots
by olson (2019-02-04 12:33:40)
Edited on 2019-02-04 12:52:33

1959

The American Football League(AFL) was forming as a new league- to challenge the NFL.

The plan was to start out in 1960 with 8 teams

Frank Leahy was hired as GM for the just former AFL LA Chargers-owned by 32 year old Baron Hilton(son of hotel magnet Conrad Hilton).

There are two versions of how Boston got one of the 8 franchises-both involve Frank Leahy.

#1 Leahy called his old buddy Billy Sullivan & told him the final AFL franchise would be his (and Boston's) IF Sullivan could come up with the money.

#2 Sullivan called Leahy to plead his case for the AFL to award the final franchise to Boston.

Sullivan, a '37 BC grad, had been BC head football coach Frank Leahy's publicity director at BC & went with Leahy to Notre Dame in the same capacity in '41-before entering the military in WWII...after the war, Sullivan had become a very successful fuel oil co. owner in Boston(after a brief stop as publicity director for the MLB Boston Braves.)

In '59 Boston was reportedly competing with Philadelphia, Oakland and/or San Francisco for the final AFL franchise.

The other 7 AFL teams had already been awarded to Dallas, New York, Houston, Minneapolis,Denver, LA and Buffalo.

The selection committee for the final franchise was:

Frank Leahy GM LA Chargers
Harry Wismer Owner NY Titans
Lamar Hunt Owner Dallas Texans

Wismer, a longtime broadcaster, had been the radio voice of Notre Dame football along with Joe Boland. Sullivan's brief ND affiliation & history with Leahy helped get Wismer on board.

Leahy and Wismer teamed up to convince Hunt to award the final franchise to Boston.

Sullivan forked over $25,000 -monies he had saved to buy a beach house on Cape Cod(Craigville beach); much to the disappointment of his wife...Sullivan brought in 9 junior partners to buy the franchise; one of whom was former Red Sox Dom DiMaggio.

Sullivan hired Ed McKeever (former BC and ND assistant under Leahy & interim HC at Notre Dame in 1944) as the first Patriots GM.

A draft was held in which each of the teams were given a first territorial/bonus pick......Chargers GM Leahy picked Notre Dame's Monty Stickles E with the Chargers 'bonus' pick; & NY Titan's Wisner selected Irish QB George Izo....as it would turn out, both ND players chose instead to play in the NFL(both were selected in the first round of the NFL draft-Izo the second selection overall by the Cardinals).

The major development of that AFL draft was when LSU star HB Billy Cannon, after a bidding war, chose the AFL Houston Oilers over the NFL(Cannon was the #1 selection in the NFL-taken just before Izo).

Houston Oilers HC Lou Rymkus (a former Notre Dame player & Hwyt Bengal Bouts champ to boot) convinced Cannon to sign with the Oilers...Rymkus' Oilers would go on to win the first AFL championship.

With the draft out of the way, a bombshell dropped. The NFL offered a franchise to Minneapolis....this team would become the NFL Minnesota Vikings in '61...and meant that another AFL franchise opened up.

Baron Hilton made short work of that opening-getting another franchise for the West Coast & the Oakland Raiders took the Minneapolis spot....ironically, the draft was already completed, so the Raiders simply absorbed the Minneapolis picks!

Leahy would resign for health reasons during that first season, but before that hired Sid Gilman as head coach & assistants Al Davis & Chuck Noll.

Al Davis had just left USC after he had been passed over for HC. The Trojans had hired John McKay.

Chuck Noll had briefly played for Leahy at Notre Dame-but Leahy had cut Noll from the Irish squad after Noll had had a epileptic seizure during a preseason practice....Noll transferred to Dayton & was allowed to continue his football career.

The first Boston Patriots exhibition game ever was vs the Buffalo Bills...With the Bills starting QB Tommy O'Connell (a 1948 Frank Leahy/ND recruit who transferred to Illinois).

The first regular season Patriots game was vs the Denver Broncos..the starting QB for the Broncos was former ND star Frank Tripucka.

In 1971,after years of playing at Boston U field(former Braves Field), Harvard Stadium & Fenway Park, the Patriots finally got a permanent home field-in Foxboro, Ma.

The Sullivan family's honored guest for the home opener in Foxboro was Frank Leahy.






I blame Davie. *
by PWK2  (2019-02-05 14:26:46)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


You’re not wrong
by yodadame  (2019-02-05 21:50:20)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

If Davie’s 1998 team hadn’t pounded Brady’s team that September, he may not have been benched his senior season in favor of Drew Henson, and may have then gone higher in the draft to another team.

Never forget the same Michigan fans who now prance around in a Wal-mart #10 Brady jersey once DEMANDED he be benched for Henson.

Michigan sucks.


So Curly Lambeau leaves the ND campus because of health
by G.K.Chesterton  (2019-02-04 16:52:31)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

reasons (I realize that may not be why he *permanently left) and goes on to win six (6) NFL titles. Chuck Noll leaves ND for health reasons and goes on to win four (4) NFL titles.


a sore throat was a very BIG deal in the fall of 1918
by olson  (2019-02-05 09:14:37)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Curley Lambeau left Notre Dame to return home to Green Bay late in the fall semester of 1918, with what was later described as 'severe tonsillitis'....Lambeau did not even wait for his final grades.

Years later, Lambeau's actions apparently seemed suspicious to one Green Bay Packer 'historian' who wrote about 'not knowing the full story about Lambeau' leaving ND.

But that author/'historian never once brought up the Great Influenza outbreak that rocked the Nation & hit South Bend particularly hard that fall.

A sore throat was a very big deal back then-perhaps fatal....87 people died during the influenza outbreak in South Bend that fall. It was said that as many as 42 had died on one day (October 2nd), 2 of whom were Notre Dame students.

The entire ND football schedule of new coach Knute Rockne was cancelled for the month of October(no games were played that month & only 6 were played for the full season-5 in November).

Lambeau recovered, got married & started the Packers...never to return to ND...though Curley acted as a 'super scout' for Rockne-tipping Rock off to numerous HS star football players from Green Bay...among them, a back from Green Bay East HS just 3 year after Curley left ND= Jim Crowley(one of ND's Four Horsemen).

As for Chuck Noll

Noll enrolled at Notre Dame in the fall of 1949-you'll find his name in the ND Student Directory of 1949-50. Noll had an epileptic seizure on the practice field in the preseason. Leahy cut Noll from the Irish team -for his own safety. The ND administration sent Noll home to be checked out by his family doctor.

Noll wanted to continue to play football & since that wasn't going to happen at ND, he didn't return. Instead Noll transferred to Dayton, where the football coach was Joe Gavin - a former ND QB & classmate of Frank Leahy. Leahy and Gavin were both members of Rockne's 1927 ND Frosh recruiting class.

The AD at Dayton at the time(and for many years) was also a former ND player named Harry Baujan.

Gavin allowed Noll to play football at Dayton-but only after getting clearance from the family doctor, an ok from Noll's parents AND a phone conversation between himself & his old ND teammate Frank Leahy.

Later (1960), Los Angeles Chargers GM Frank Leahy hired Chuck Noll as an assistant coach-Noll's very first coaching job.


George Gipp died of strep throat *
by ShermanOaksND  (2019-02-05 22:40:44)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Technically, it was pneumonia related to strep throat. *
by ndlp  (2019-02-06 06:32:03)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


One small addition
by D8NDomer  (2019-02-05 10:23:11)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

you could say "the beloved Harry Baujan." While they still played on campus, their field was named for him. I played a CYO all-star game there during a miserably cold & wet December day. That was the end of football for me. No fun being a nose guard trying to stop a fullback 30 lbs. heavier at that age.

We love you Olson.


U of Dayton press claimed Baujan 'played for Rockne'
by olson  (2019-02-05 10:32:50)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Baujan didn't play for Rockne...he played WITH Rockne in 1913..both were ends/Rockne was captain

and then Baujan played for Jesse Harper in '14-'16....albeit Rock was an assistant on those ND teams.

After HC Joe Gavin left Dayton, AD Baujan hired former ND player/coach Hugh Devore to replace him.


The books you could write; I see a thread from Rockne
by D8NDomer  (2019-02-05 10:57:21)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

to Sean McVay through Harry, John McVay & Jon Gruden. Thanks for the link, very enlightening.

P.S. - on reflection: Baujan may have done this on purpose, but it was quite easy for neighborhood kids to sneak into Baujan Field & watch Dayton games for free. As I went to grade school just half a block from the UD campus I did this several times.


I didn't know Chuck Noll attended ND, thx. *
by discNDav  (2019-02-05 08:56:02)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Another Billy Sullivan-ND connection
by Burvey  (2019-02-04 15:22:12)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

I think I have this right. Billy's brother Frank was an ND grad and was on the board of trustees. One of Frank's sons was an Indiana Supreme Court judge.


another connection- ND Coach Joe McArdle='Captain Bligh'
by olson  (2019-02-04 15:37:25)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Billy's brother Frank was an original member of lay ND Board of Trustees.....and...Billy & Frank's brother-in-law was ND assistant coach Joe McArdle.......McArdle played at Fordham, Leahy was his line coach & then McArdle coached with Leahy at both Boston College & later Notre Dame....nicknamed 'Captain Bligh' by the ND football players...a tough, no nonsense assistant


Joe McArdle worked for the St. Joseph Bank insurance agency
by Walsh69  (2019-02-04 23:24:30)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

in the early 1970s when I was a commercial insurance underwriter for Travelers Insurance company. Joe was the president of the agency andI underwrote the insurance their insurance for two years. Joe was quite the character and had a some wonderful stories to tell. I wish I had written them down.

Prior to working at St. Joe Insurance, Joe worked with Frank Sullivan in his South Bend agency.

I vaguely recall that Joe's wife was somehow related to the Sullivan family. I could be mistaken, though.


olson for MVP (Most Valuable Poster).
by ArasEra  (2019-02-04 13:36:45)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

I could read your posts all day, every day.

Keep 'em coming.


Seconded. *
by irishintheville  (2019-02-04 14:47:51)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Thirded. *
by G.K.Chesterton  (2019-02-04 16:52:42)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Fourthed. *
by Dennis  (2019-02-04 18:19:36)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


I'll take the 5th! *
by MPG  (2019-02-04 19:35:37)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Well, I will make it a six pack! *
by hibernianangst  (2019-02-05 17:11:16)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Well done
by Leahy  (2019-02-04 13:28:51)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

You are amazing.
It's like you lived with dad and all of us.
You are like a 5th brother of mine


Olson and Leahy
by Willylumplump  (2019-02-04 13:12:49)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Very interesting and informative job once again, Mr Olson. As Frank Leahy choices of Chuck Noll and Oakland Al show, the Master had a good eye for coaching talent as well as athletic talent. May his ghost look into the current Irish "brain trust?" for future pickings.