Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The NFL First Draft Choice in 1955 - a backup to great quarterbacks.

The 2016 NFL Draft has taken place and already football fans are preparing for a great season for their favorite team.  I recently came across some trivia that I found interesting.

The year I was born (1955) The #1 pick was George Shaw, Quarterback for the Baltimore Colts.

Shaw passed for 5,829 yards over his eight-year career but played sparingly after his rookie season.

At 6 feet and 185 pounds, Shaw was a smart, precise player. At the University of Oregon, he played quarterback, safety and sometimes halfback and receiver. He kicked off, kicked field goals and extra points, punted and returned punts.
He also gained a reputation for sportsmanship. Once, against Southern California, George Timberlake tackled Shaw, stuck an elbow in his face and pushed his nose into the ground. When an official raced over and seemed about to penalize Timberlake, Shaw intervened.
''Let it go,'' he told the official. Then Shaw stared at his tormenter.
''Timberlake,'' he said, ''you're too good a ballplayer to be pulling that kind of stuff. Let's just play the game, shall we?''
They did, and Oregon won, 13-7, in a big upset.
As a senior, Shaw led the nation with 1,536 yards in total offense. He was also a center fielder on the Oregon baseball team. When the Baltimore Colts made him the first choice over all in the 1955 National Football League draft, he turned down a $10,000 signing bonus from the New York Yankees and signed with the Colts for a $17,500 salary.
He was selected by the Baltimore Colts as the first player in the 1955 NFL Draft. Shaw quickly became the starter, but in the early part of the 1956 season, he suffered a broken leg and was replaced by rookie backup Johnny Unitas. As Unitas embarked on his legendary career, Shaw lasted two more years in Baltimore as the backup before being traded to the New York Giants, where he played two seasons.

Shaw asked to be traded, and after the 1958 season the Colts sent him to the New York Giants. As Wellington Mara, the Giants' president and co-owner, recalled: ''In Shaw's first year, Frank Gifford decided he wanted to play quarterback. By the time the regular season started, Gifford was back at halfback and Charlie Conerly was the quarterback again. Shaw was the backup.'' 

Shaw played one season with the Minnesota Vikings, where he started the first game in franchise history but was replaced in the first half by rookie backup Fran Tarkenton who took over the starting job.   He also played one season with the Denver Broncos of the American Football League before retiring from football in 1962.  Shaw passed for 5,829 yards and 41 touchdowns in the NFL.  George Shaw passed away on January 3, 1998 at the age of 64. 

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