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The Silver All-Americas, 1936-61
Robert Cantwell
December 11, 1961
They were football-playing seniors 25 autumns ago; they were nominated by their alma maters for Sports Illustrated's annual career awards; and—for what they accomplished then and since—they have been elected the Silver Anniversary All-Americas of 1961. Herewith the portrait of a generation
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December 11, 1961

The Silver All-americas, 1936-61

They were football-playing seniors 25 autumns ago; they were nominated by their alma maters for Sports Illustrated's annual career awards; and—for what they accomplished then and since—they have been elected the Silver Anniversary All-Americas of 1961. Herewith the portrait of a generation

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Captain Bringle and the men of his hard-pressed generation know too much about both combat and football for any outsider to debate the matter with them. Yet in looking over their records and the contributions they have made, it is obvious that war has changed a good deal more than sport has. When Bud Wilkinson was reminiscing about his days as quarterback at Minnesota he said that there have been fewer changes in football in 25 years than one might expect. The new multiple offense isn't new, to begin with. "We ran 10 different formations as part of our regular attack in 1936," he said. The patterns are different because most teams then used the single wing as a basic set, but all the plays were there, including the T formation.

In Wilkinson's opinion the biggest change has been in the tempo of football, and of other sports, too. Precollege coaching has improved, so players come to college better trained. Individual mobility and quickness are now exploited constantly, as they only rarely were 25 years ago. Better and lighter equipment, a ball that is easier to handle and throw, have accentuated the trend toward greater quickness and mobility. "The change is particularly evident in measurable sports, such as track and swimming," Wilkinson said.

"I can't say I'm perturbed about the state of the world," said Colonel Meyer in Frankfurt. "We here in Germany realize that the consequences of a nuclear holocaust are terrifying. But I and others are prepared to do our job."

Colonel Meyer was twice wounded in the war, when in command of the 2nd battalion, 127th infantry of the 32nd division—the famous Red Arrow—fighting through New Guinea, Papua, Leyte and Luzon. He later served on the 6th Army staff in Japan. After Korea he was on the faculty of the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania. There he worked with a group of seasoned experts on theoretical studies of what the role of the military might be in the reasonably near future. Great as the changes in warfare have been, Colonel Meyer says that its older pattern persists. Discussing nuclear warfare, he said, "Until we have an adequate deterrent, today's concept of conventional warfare has a decided place as part of the posture we must maintain. Otherwise we may be nibbled to death."

Colonel Meyer is slight, broad-shouldered, lean and alert. His face behind his owlish shell-rimmed glasses is surprisingly young. His brown hair, barely flecked with gray, is a crew cut that gives him somewhat the appearance of a well-groomed Indian brave. "I guess my chance of making the team nowadays would be less," he said, when asked if he would play football again. "The average Notre Dame back-field now weighs 210 pounds. Still, I would give it a schoolboy try."

And the next 25 years? Dr. Jordan, whose rallying cry in his University of Chicago days was, "Oh, hell, here they come again," refuses even to speculate. "What's ahead? Even in medicine I have no idea," he said. "My recreation now is trout and salmon fishing, but that's not really exercise. One sits on the posterior aspect of one's anatomy and tells tales. There is no greater reward."

"I worry about the future," said Carl Ray. "But I'm an optimist about America. We usually pull together in a crisis. And somehow I can't see a grinning Khrushchev on Manhattan Island."

Said Gil Kuhn, "I think we have an era of greater sanity ahead—it has to be—and a return to the dominance of common sense."

"In the 25 years ahead of us the main fact is going to be the struggle for peace," said Congressman Boiling. "It may take that long to win, but I think we shall win it."

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