Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Chris Willis's List of the Top Ends of the 1920s and 1930s

By John Turney
As the 100th Anniversary approaches, we continue to list players who were tops at their position and who made a significant impact on the league. This post reviews the two-way ends of the 1920s and 1930s.

NFL Films Producer Chris Willis has been kind enough to give us his list of the top ends of the first two decades of the NFL. Willis is the author of a half-dozen books from this era and a leading expert of the early years of the NFL.

1920s Ends
1. Guy Chamberlin—Part of five NFL championship teams, NFL 1920s All-Decade team; HOFer. 1922 had career-high seven TDs; could score rushing and receiving. If there had been a "Player of the Decade" for the 1920s Chamberlain would be the choice.

2. Lavvie Dilweg—Part of three NFL Championship teams; NFL 1920s All-Decade. Many researchers and historians think Dilweg belongs in the Hall of Fame.

3. George Halas—Won on NFL Championship as a player; NFL 1920s All-Decade team; HOFer.

4. Tillie Voss—Very productive; best year in 1924 with Packers, caught 5 TDs (all thrown by Curly Lambeau), All-Pro several times from different newspapers.

5. Charlie Berry—Only played two seasons, but All-Pro both years; scored nine career TDs with six TD catches; became a MLB umpire.

6. Paul Robeson—Only two seasons, but HOF talent; in 1922 game vs Oorang Indians scored 2 TDs including a 50-yard TD catch.

7. Tom Nash—Won three NFL championships with Packers, 1929-31; four career TD catches.

8. Joe Rooney—Caught seven career TDs; best year in 1927 with three TD catches; while with Duluth on October 31, 1927, caught the game-winning 25-yard TD pass from Ernie Nevers to defeat Milwaukee, 7-6.

9. Luke Urban —First-team All-NFL by Halas in 1922; only played three seasons.

10. Eddie Anderson—Solid end with best years playing for Chicago Cardinals.

1930s Ends
1. Don Hutson—Clearly the best end in the first fifty years of the NFL's history. Hall of Famer, member of the NFL 75th Anniversary Team and 50th Anniversary Team

2. Bill Hewitt—Better on defense than offense, but still very productive in passing game; great at blocking kicks, too. He was a Hall of Famer and a 1930s All-Decade selection.

3. Ray Flaherty—A four-time All-Pro and led NFL in receptions, yards, yards per catch and touchdown receptions in 1932 and part of the Championship won by the Giants in 1934. A Hall of Famer

4. Luke Johnsos—A TD machine; 20 TD catches.

5. Red Badgro—A three-time All-Pro and led NFL in receptions in 1934 and won NFL championship that same season. A Hall of Famer.

6. Wayne Millner—A Hall of Famer and a 1930s All-Decade pick. He caught touchdown passes of 55 and 78 yards from Sammy Baugh in the 1937 title game win over the Bears.

7. Gaynell Tinsley—All-Pro in 1937 and 1938 and led NFL in receiving yards and yards per catch in 1937.

8. Jim Poole—Had 65 catches for 895 yards; 13 career TD catches; three Pro Bowls; won one NFL Championship.

9. Bill Karr—Caught the game-winning touchdown lateral (from Bill Hewitt) in 1933 NFL Championship Game; good receiver, averaged over 18 yards a catch, 21 TD catches; Twice led NFL in receiving TDs.

10. Harry Ebding—Once led NFL in receiving yards (in 1934) averaged over 17 yards per catch. He was All-Pro in 1933 and a major cog in the 1935 Lions NFL Championship team.


  1. Luke Urban was an All-Pro selection for at least one publication each of his three pro seasons. By the way, he also played two seasons of Major League Baseball for the Boston Braves, and was a golf pro as well ...

  2. Paul Robeson is one of the more extraordinary Americans of the 20th century and no question "could" have been among the greats, but played only 15 games...hard to see him ranked here