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Grange's Influence Lasts to This Day

February 02, 1991

While working in the University of Illinois sports information office, I came to love hearing stories about Harold (Red) Grange, who passed away Monday.

Here is one that reaches into today's headlines as college undergraduates declare for the NFL draft. Because it was Grange's signing right after his final game that led to the initial rule that has now evaporated.

Illinois Coach Bob Zuppke saw a dangerous trend developing. If Grange could be signed right after his last game, then maybe the NFL would pursue players with eligibility remaining.

Zuppke called the man who had signed Grange, Chicago Bears' owner George Halas, and made it clear that if nothing was done to stop it, then the fledgling league could expect no cooperation from the college Establishment.

Halas, who had played for Zup at Illinois and knew the man's far-reaching influence, wasted little time ramrodding through the longstanding rule barring teams from signing players before their classes had graduated.


Director of Athletic Publications


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