March 17, 1912: NFL, WVU Hall Of Fame Athlete Joe Stydahar Born
Athlete Joe Stydahar was born in Pennsylvania on March 17, 1912. He and his family moved to Harrison County, West Virginia, where he graduated from Shinnston High School. He went on to become a basketball and football star at West Virginia University.
In 1936, Stydahar was a first-round pick of George Halas’s Chicago Bears in the first-ever NFL draft. He played tackle for the Bears and was an anchor on of one of the most storied teams in NFL history—nicknamed the Monsters of the Midway. Early in his career, Stydahar often played without a helmet—one of the last pros to do so. His teams won championships in 1940 and ‘41. He served in the navy from 1943 to ’45, then returned to the Bears to win another championship in 1946, his final season.
He coached the Los Angeles Rams to a championship in 1951. In 1967, he became the first WVU graduate elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He later became a charter member of WVU’s athletic hall of fame. Joe Stydahar died in Beckley in 1977 at age 65.