Sunday, March 20, 2022

1952 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney and TJ Troup 
Going back and picking award-winners in the past is always going to have pitfalls and we fully acknowledge that fact. However, in the spirit of fun and adventure and using film study and research now available it seems like it would be interesting to try and pick an "as if" or retroactive rookie squared for the decade prior to UPI picking theirs, beginning in 1961. 

There were a lot of great players with great rookie seasons in that span and we'd like to honor them and recognize their achievements. 

So, using what we now know via the aforementioned research and film study here is the 1952 PFJ All-Rookie Team—

Night Train Lane would be a pretty good Defensive Rookie of the Year (a still NFL-record 14 interceptions) for '52 and we've seen plenty of film of Gino Marchetti with the Texans to know he came into the NFL as a dominant player. 

Offensive Billy Howton would be the top guy. On a per-game basis, his rookie season still matches with the best ever in touchdown receptions. In twelve games Howton caught 53 passes for 1,231 yards (23.2 yards per catch) and 13 touchdowns. It's a pretty good set of rookie running backs.  

It should be noted that many players were two-way guys who played both offense and defense and only Troup's film study can sort through that but in general this is at least a jumping off point for discussions about the rookies in the 1950s.


  1. ....though this is an era of "two platoon" football, some of these men demonstrated they could play both ways----one of the best examples is Bill George of the Bears who sure had his moments on the offensive line, while Frank Gifford played some outstanding football in the secondary for NYG.

  2. Nice to see Lum Snyder and Wayne Robinson, who were named to the Eagles all-time team that was selected in 1965.

  3. GREAT compilation guys!....of course one could argue that Night Train's 1952 campaign is the all-time "defensive rookie of the year" season....(Butkus 65 alternatively?) both know my pro-Gino bias...that said, what in the world was Keith Molesworth thinking when he moved him to offensive tackle in 53???

  4. Great project guys ...

    Cant go wrong with a name like Bibbles Bawel ...

    After reading Frank Giffords autobiography, I firmly believe a player like Eddie Price deserves consideration for HOVG. Just not many positives on offense with a great but out-dated HC in Steve Owens, who wasnt exactly keen on a more sophisticated offense for QB Charlie Conerly; who spent his career throwing to slow receivers who were versatile like Gifford, Rote and Schnelker. Plodders like Webster and Triplett helped the Giant's offense later.

    Jim David was a clutch DB and with Rechichar's versatility, have HOVG cases as well.

  5. ....Price wore down after two outstanding seasons in 50 & 51. Film of the Giants in 1950 is just a joy to watch with Coach Owen alternating the "A" with the "T"...take a look at the team rushing stats. Price looked like he was ready for scrap heap, but St. Vince got what was left in him. Toughest 200 lb. fullback of his era. David survived due to Lions "scheme", much like Bobby Boyd later. Bert R. hit like a truck, and had a nose for the ball, lack of speed was a detriment....he would play for me....nickel linebacker, similar to how Dale Hackbart was used by Bud G.

  6. Thanks Coach, I was a fan of Hackbart as well.

  7. times in the coaching profession you have players that may lack all the necessary traits to be a starter---Hackbart at right safety for 'Skins and Vikings is a prime example, yet he can help the team in "special" he did so well for Minnesota. to quote Bill Brown, "hurts little huh, Lester" after Hackbart's hit on Josephson in one of the hardest hitting play-off games I ever watched.

  8. Bill McColl for the Bears was a huge receiving target. For John and TJ, could he have been considered one of the first tight ends in football along with Pihos, Nickel, Fears, Mutscheller and later Ron Kramer ?

    1. back in the early 1950s all ends were tight, they didn't split out until 1952, 1953 . . . TJ would be better at answering thta than me, though, but in 1951 Elroy Hirsch was "tight" end. Search out a post that talks about when he moved to flanker...

  9. Thanks John ...

    Can fans imagine Nightrain Lane as a developing receiver ?
    In his career he had 8 receptions for 253 yrds and a 98yd TD reception. He also had a 75 yd reception and averaged nearly 32 yrds per catch ... not bad.