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Ron Fimrite
November 21, 1988
Doc Blanchard (right) was the inside man and Glenn Davis ruled the outside for Army's fabled teams of the 1940s
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November 21, 1988

Mr. Inside & Mr. Outside

Doc Blanchard (right) was the inside man and Glenn Davis ruled the outside for Army's fabled teams of the 1940s

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But Davis did not give up on football. He worked out with the Rams, who had obtained rights to him, during his furlough in 1948. More significantly, perhaps, he also met a lovely 16-year-old actress named Elizabeth Taylor at her parents' home in Malibu. The next year, a storybook romance seemed to be underway between the ail-American boy and the movie beauty. Davis had been assigned to an Army base in Korea, and when he returned on leave to Miami he was met at the airport by both Taylor and Life photographers. Their reunion was recorded in the March 21, 1949, Life, with Taylor depicted wiping lipstick from "the handsome lieutenant's" face after an embrace.

In December 1947, Davis had asked to be discharged early from the Army, but the request was denied. He served his full three years, with 18 months of the hitch in Korea. He finally resigned in time to join the Rams for the 1950 season, but once again his timing, flawless in football, was faulty in the real world. War in Korea broke out in June 1950, less than two months after Davis, an infantry officer who had been stationed on the embattled 38th parallel, left there to resume his long-delayed football career. Once more, he became prey for angry politicians and newspaper pundits.

Robert Ruark, the novelist then writing a syndicated column, equated Davis's resignation from the Army at a time of national emergency with the defection to Russia of "avowed Communist" Paul Robeson. Ruark wrote, "Mr. Davis worked for the Army a couple of years of the recent postwar period, to pay off Uncle Sam, quit his commission and is now playing professional football as anticlimax to his romance with Elizabeth Taylor." Dan Parker of the New York Daily Mirror rose to Davis's defense: "The Army enrolled Davis for his athletic prowess, not because he looked like General Grant in the bud. He played his role well, and has now put in two years soldiering."

The controversy over Davis's efforts to get out of the Army and the mostly embarrassing publicity he had received for his amatory adventures in Hollywood—two years after his fling with Taylor, he was married briefly to Moore—may well have delayed Davis's induction into the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame. Blanchard was admitted in 1959, and Davis two years later, but only after an intense and angry campaign by Army sports information director Joseph Cahill.

In 1960, Cahill wrote the Foundation: "Contrary to the belief of the uninformed, Glenn fulfilled his military obligation in an honorable manner.... This he did without fanfare. That 18 months of this time was served in the dismal atmosphere of Korea is pertinent. As for the small segment who would defame his current status as a respected citizen, I would like to report that he is a happily married man [to his current wife, the former Harriet Lancaster Slack] with two children."

Davis played two years with the Rams. Despite the gimpy knee, he led the team in rushing in 1950 with a 4.28 average per carry and caught 42 passes for 592 yards. In the league championship game that year with the Cleveland Browns, which the Rams lost 30-28, he caught a pass from Bob Waterfield and ran 50 yards with it for the 'first Los Angeles touchdown.

But Davis's old injury and the three-year layoff had sorely diminished his skills. "It was really tough for me to come back," he says. "It would take me two days or more to recover from a game. I was a mere image of what I had been. I was a better player my senior year in high school than I was with the Rams."

In 1951, Davis played sparingly because of injuries, rushing 64 times for 200 yards. He sat out the '52 season, then tried to make a comeback in '53, but the battered knee would not respond. His last game was a Rams exhibition against the Philadelphia Eagles in Little Rock, Ark., on Sept. 12, 1953. Mr. Outside was finished. He was not quite 29.

Blanchard never gave pro football a thought after the 49er affair. But he played football in 1947 for Randolph Field, an Air Force Base in Texas, where he was a pilot trainee. He married a San Antonio woman, Jody King, on Oct. 12, 1948, and got his wings at almost the same time. In 1959, while stationed in England, he won a special citation for taking a burning plane in for a safe landing away from a village. He did some coaching, both at West Point and at the Air Force Academy, but he was by that time a full-fledged fighter jock, and in 1967-68 he flew 85 combat missions over North Vietnam and won a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Blanchard retired from the Air Force as a full colonel in 1971 and served for two years as the commandant of the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, N.Mex. In 1973, he retired permanently. He was 49. The Blanchards have a son, two daughters and seven grandchildren, one of whom, 15-year-old Mary Ellen Blanchard, swam in the Olympic trials last summer. Blanchard says he lives in virtual anonymity in San Antonio. "People down here don't know you played unless it was for Texas or A & M. Anywhere else, they just say, 'Where's that, boy?' "

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