How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football

John Miller has written an interesting book about how Teddy Roosevelt helped save American football. His name is John Miller and the book is titled The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football in America. Well, in his recent book, guest blogger Lee Baucom has written an interesting article about the famous athlete. You see, in the 1940s, coach Scottsdale, Arizona Wild Cards had a terrible year financially. They had just lost three-straight games and were not expected to make it to the playoffs. John Miller, one of the most trusted coaches in the league, got a visit from Roosevelt.

He explained to the president that he wanted to bring football to the White House. The team was going to need millions of dollars to pay for their stadium, which they would probably lose if they did not go to the Super Bowl that season. As you can imagine the president was all about football and he asked Teddy if he would like to be the one to put money into the project. Teddy said sure, that is a great idea, he told the president that he would like to help America remain a competitive nation.

So, the athletic director at the University of Princeton asked Wilbur and Ivy to meet with Wilbur and Ivy at the Holiday Inn in Princeton, New Jersey. Here are some of the things that happened during this important meeting. The athletic director liked what he heard from the millionaire athlete, so he offered Teddy $500 a month to manage a football program for the Ivy League. Teddy was hesitant, but because of his background and the connection that he had with John Wanamaker, he said he would consider it.

After the Holiday Inn meeting, Wilbur and Ivy presented Teddy with a check for ten thousand dollars a year, to manage the football program at the University of Princeton. The president was impressed by the gesture and requested that they give him an extra million dollars to buy land for an indoor athletic center in New Jersey. Because of his background and connection, the athletic director was able to convince the incoming president to get the land, which he was planning to build, for twenty-five percent interest. That was less than what the yearly budget was, but the difference in prestige and leadership was significant. Teddy Roosevelt was a great leader.

During World War II, the National Football League was formed. Jackie Robinson played defensive tackle for the Brooklyn Dodgers and later went on to play eleven seasons in the majors. He is the only player in history to have his career end with three franchises. Jackie Robinson, who later went on to play football with the L.A. Lakers and became the first African American player in the A.C. basketball league, has said that the color barrier in sports is not present anymore.

In the early sixties, President Roosevelt had lunch with Harvard University head coach Raynor R. Gilmour. According to newspaper accounts, Roosevelt asked about the possibility of Gilmour being drafted into the military and becoming a coach for the Ivy League. Gilmour said no, that he wanted to play football and become a coach. This story might never have come to light if it weren’t for the intervention of Teddy Roosevelt.

 

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