EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Football legend, Charley Trippi, who was a Pro and College Football Hall of Famer, a Heisman Trophy runner-up who also lead the Cardinals to their most recent championship in 1947, died on Wednesday, at the age of 100.
According to the Associated Press (AP), the University of Georgia announced that Trippi died peacefully in his Athens home.
Trippi was one of football’s most versatile players, playing multiple positions on offense, defense, and special teams, the AP reports. Trippi is also the only member of the Pro Football Hall of Famer to have 1,000 yards rushing, receiving, and passing in his career.
A coal miner’s son, Trippi had a simple explanation for his wide array of skills, the AP discovered.
“In those days, the more things a player did, the more pay he could demand,” Trippi said, according to his bio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “I could run, kick, pass and catch, and that made me a valuable property.”
The AP states, Trippi played college football at the University of Georgia in the 1940s, but his college football career was interrupted by his time in the military during World War II. When he got back into college ball, he led the Bulldogs to a Rose Bowl victory, was the runner-up to Glenn Davis for the 1946 Heisman Trophy, and was also the number one overall draft pick by the Cardinals who called Chicago home back then.
After college, Trippi went to play for the Cardinals and lead the franchise to the 1947 NFL championship. The team has yet to win another title since.
“Charley Trippi was one of the greatest Bulldogs of all time! It was an honor to get to know him! God Bless the Trippi family,” Georgia Athletic Director, Josh Brooks wrote on Twitter.
On December 14, 2021, Trippi celebrated another crowning achievement as he turned 100 years old. Becoming the second member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to reach the century mark. Clarence ‘Ace’ Parker died on November 16, 2013, at the age of 101, The AP reported.
Georgia Coach Kirby Smart was at Trippit’s home with him and his family to help celebrate the special occasion with a cake topped with 100 candles. And despite his ailments, Trippi was able to blow out all of the candles.
“If you know anything about his legend at Georgia, you know he was perhaps, the greatest all-around football player on our campus,” Smart added.
Charles Louis Trippi was born in Pittston, PA, just as America was embarking on a golden era of sports in the 1920s.
According to the AP, a story often repeated is one of Trippi and his family and how they couldn’t afford to buy him football cleats. But, he punted so well in his regular shoes that his high school coach, Paul Shebby, stepped in to make the purchase. One day in punt formation, after the snapper sailed the ball over Trippi’s head, he ran back to pick it up and weaved his way to a touchdown, which showed he was far more than a one-dimensional player.
Officals say Trippi received a scholarship to play for the Georgia Bulldogs through his connections to a Coke bottler, who was a graduate of Georgia, living in nearby Wilkes-Barre.
Trippi was also a stellar baseball player, who played one season with the Atlanta Crackers, a powerhouse minor league franchise at the time. And although several major league teams tried to sign him, Trippi decided that football was his best chance for success, the AP reported.
He played nine seasons with the Cardinals playing pretty much every position the team needed him. He was responsible for 53 touchdowns throughout his professional career and in 1959 Trippi was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.
“I’m glad I played football,” Charley Trippi said in a speech he made.
He is survived by his wife, Peggy, and his two children, his daughter Brenda and his son, Charles. According to longtime friend Loran Smith said he was preceded in death by his first wife and oldest daughter.
Coming from a sport where many died too young, Trippi beat the odds by living into a second century. Pittston Area High School also named its football stadium ‘Charley Trippi Stadium’ after the legend.
Trippi was a vibrant figure for much of his life, staying active by raking leaves and cutting grass well into his 90s at his home not far from Georgia’s Sanford Stadium.