The Nebraska Athletics Department will honor eight members of the College Football Hall of Fame by adding them to a prestigious group of former Cornhuskers with retired jerseys.
The names of the eight are:
Guy Chamberlin, Ed Weir, Clarence Swanson, George Sauer, Sam Francis, Forrest Behm, Bobby Reynolds and Wayne Meylan.
It’s a nice nod to the past by the athletic department.
The eras in which they played were certainly different than now. Guy Chamberlin played from 1913 - 1915. 1915 saw the sinking of the Lusitania. Two years later the United States would enter into World War I. Clarence Swanson began playing football in 1918, the year that the Great War ended. His last season was a 1921. The first official radio station, KDKA, out of Pittsburgh, had just come on the air in 1920.
Ed Weir played 1921-1925. Radio stations exploded across the nation during this time, many of them started by newspapers, who were afraid that radio would destroy the newspaper industry. (Unlike today’s newspapermen, who decided to ignore the internet and blogging because they were just too important for that. Now they’re continuing to die a long, slow death, because that’s what you get when you’re the stupidest set of businessmen of the last two decades.) The first college football game broadcast was in 1921 between Pittsburgh and West Virginia, by KDKA, of course.
George Sauer, 1931-1933, Sam Francis, 1934-1936, and Forrest Behm, 1938-1940, played during the Great Depression. I remember hearing stories when I was young that it was so bad that men slept on the grounds at the state capitol building. World War II showed up just when they thought they’d gone through the worst that life had to offer.
Prohibition in the United States started in 1920 and lasted until 1933. 13 years of alcohol being illegal - imagine that. Life expectancy in 1920 for white men was 54 years. By 1940, it was 62. It increased as much because of the availability of simple things like clean water and sanitation as much as from increased knowledge of healthcare.
Bobby Reynolds played from 1950-1952. If you want a clear cut example of how different things were, this is from Page 42 of Mike Babcock’s book, Stadium Stories:
When he was on the sideline, he held ice on his left eye because of a recently burned cornea. The cornea had been burned by lime used to mark the lines on a football field. The injury, which threatened the sight in one eye, wasn't his only one that season. He missed the first three games because of a shoulder separation, suffered during coach Bill Glassford's rugged preseason training camp, conducted far away from Lincoln at the University's agricultural College in Curtis, Nebraska.
The final of the eight, Wayne Meylan - the most regular looking guy amongst them - played from 1965-1967, just when the Vietnam War was getting started, as was legendary coach Bob Devaney.
Coverage of their sport was non-existent relative to today. There was very little coverage, except for the newspaper. There were very few televisions, even around the time at which Bobby Reynolds played. Now we hear so much and there are so many angles to stories that the 24/7 news cycle is on overload.
A massive amount of history cuts across the lives of these men. Air travel became commonplace. The invention of the transistor and penicillin were seminal moments in human history. I remember my Mom telling me that they were afraid to go swimming in a public pool before 1954 - before the polio vaccine.
I could go on for quite a while, and i have done quite a bit of history over the years here at CN. This should be enough to get you started for today, though.
Consider these men’s lives. What would you say were the greatest things that happened during their time? Wars are obvious. What else?
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