1901 - 1994
by Michael Moran
Originally published in
My father, Francis Dayle
Hap Moran, played eight years in the NFL from 1926 through 1933.
Although he wasnt a shy man by any means, he didnt talk much about past
glory days, and it wasnt until after his death in 1994 that a full
picture of his career became clear. All in all, I think youll agree, he was
the kind of player that made pro football the explosive, exciting sport that Americans
learned to love then and still love today.
|I was born 14 years after his last game, so all I can go on is the memories of teammates and a scrap book of yellowing newspaper clippings. Those clippings show that a few years in the NFL can certainly change a players press. When my father broke into the league in 1926 with the Frankford Yellow Jackets the sportswriters rave
Not bad! A star let down from the planet Mars
. The Yellow Jackets went on to win the NFL title that year and Dad was
the second high scorer for the team and 12th for the NFL.
|No doubt, my father helped the Giants Harry Newman lead the NFL in passing that year. What with the comparative rarity of forward passes in those days, anyone who could catch a pass or two was doing okay. Harry Newman wrote to me after my father died:
|Apparently, though, my fathers good
disposition didnt keep him from being a target for battering by opponents.
How battered was he? There was a separated shoulder, broken fingers, and many broken noses. In one game after he broke his nose he had a metal cup taped over his busted beak for protection and went back in. A few moments later he got smashed in the face a second time. The cup only added to the injury. On the way to the hospital the car was pulled over by the police. There had been a bank robbery in the neighborhood and the robber had been shot in the face. The way Dad looked, they thought he was the perpetrator.
He was a tough man to get out of a game. Another time his mouth was badly cut. He was stitched up on the sidelines and went back in to call plays. Bad move. He suddenly realized his tongue had been sown to his lip! When he tried to call a play he couldnt talk.
All of the mayhem wasnt caused by the other team. In a 1948 column, Arthur Daley of the New York Times reported on a conversation between Steve Owen and Mel Hein.
So by 1933 Dad was
pretty well battered, but along the way he had contributed some great moments to the early
days of the NFL.
|A similar 85 yard run back of the opening kick off against Minnesota in 1925 also stood out as Grinnells only score, and both these runs were highlighted in a letter of recommendation from his college coach to the Frankford Yellow Jackets coach in 1926. His coach ended the letter:
Frankford Yellow Jackets
NFL Champions 1926
|Frankford gave him a contract, and in his first game as a pro they got their moneys worth. It was a rainy September 25, 1926, a day, the papers said, more suitable for a swimming meet than a football game. The opponent was Akron, led by Fritz Pollard, the All-American from Brown, one of the few black players in the NFL. Dad was so new to the team he didnt even have a number. He didnt start, but he did get a chance to play, and he scored Frankfords only points of the day:
|The next game he still had no number in the roster. But he made the starting lineup at left halfback and stayed there for the remainder of the season. Eventually they gave him the #4 jersey.
|What must have been one of the more
exciting games of the season came on the weekend of October 16. The Yellow Jackets
were not allowed to play at home on Sundays. They were a Philadelphia team and
Philadelphia had blue laws which closed stores and sporting events on
So they played their home games on Saturdays and then often traveled to their opponents city for a return match on Sunday. On the weekend of October 16 they played the New York Giants. The home game saw the Jackets defeat the Giants 6 to 0 on two field goals by another rookie, Johnny Budd of Lafayette College.
The next day the Yellow Jackets traveled with a thousand fans and their Drum and Bugle Corps in chartered railroad cars up to the Polo Grounds for the Giants first home game of the season. 15,000 fans attended, and again the Yellow Jackets beat the Giants 6 to 0:
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