Monday, June 11, 2018

Ernie Nevers Booklist

By Chris Willis, NFL Films
Ernie Nevers, fullback, Chicago Cardinals
(Color image courtesy PFJ)

On this day (June 11th) Ernie Nevers was born in Willow River, Minnesota. The six-foot, 205 pounds fullback played just five seasons in the NFL for two different teams- the Duluth Eskimos (1926-1927) and the Chicago Cardinals (1929-1931). But during those five seasons he was one of the best players in the NFL, being selected 1st Team All-Pro all five years. Playing in just 54 games Nevers finished in the top 5 of scoring in the NFL three times; 2nd in 1926; 1st in 1929 and 2nd in 1931.

In 1929 Nevers had a game for the ages for the Chicago Cardinals by scoring an NFL Record, 40 points, in a game on Thanksgiving Day against the cross-town Chicago Bears. He scored 6 touchdowns and kicked 4 extra points. The record still stands.

Nevers was selected to the NFL 1920's All-Decade Team and was a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

Over the years only two books have been written exclusively about Nevers.
The first was one written in 1968 by Jim Scott as part of the Dension's Men of Achievement Series published by T. S. Denison & Company, Inc. (Minneapolis, MN). The series was for young readers and adults that also had books published about Walt Disney, Carl Sandburg, Herbert Hoover, and Ronald Reagan.

Ernie Nevers: A Football Hero was 175 pages in length, had 13 chapters and featured 9 photos. It was your standard biography covering from childhood to his post-football career. It contained quotes from Nevers, as well as his comtempories such as Jimmy Conzleman:

"Ernie shoots bullet-like passes on a flat trajectory that leads a receiver just right. He also analyzes enemy plays so well and makes more tackles than any other man on the field."

Nevers talks about the current game (1968) and perferring to play both ways:

"I wouldn't care for it. All the clubs have two teams- one for offense, the other for defense. In my days, eleven men were about enough. No, I wouldn't like it. I couldn't stand to spend half the time on the bench."

The second book is Leatherheads of the North: The True Story of Ernie Nevers of the Duluth Eskimos. Written by sportswriter Chuck Frederick in 2007, the 176-page book was published by Zenith City Press. This book covers the two years that Nevers played for the Duluth Eskimos, especially the 1926 season when Nevers played 24 games for the Eskimos, a traveling team that went 6-5-3 in 14 NFL games. It was reported that Nevers played 1,714 out of 1,740 minutes on that tour.

Both books are worth the read, but more could be told of this great early NFL pioneer. Happy Birthday, Ernie Nevers!


  1. 1740 minutes/60 minutes per game = 29 games, which is the number of games that Ole Haugsrud claimed the Eskimos played. In interviews with Haugsrud, Nevers, and Johnny Blood, I was able to account for 28 games that they actually played; a 29th game was canceled.

  2. A game scheduled in Buffalo was canceled due to inclement weather.

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  4. Ernie had a son, Gene Sullivan whom he never knew. We are looking for this book to get to know Ernie. Found this info out through dna test, and would really like to get a copy. Thanks