Elroy Crazy Legs Hirsch
November 16, 2011 by staff
Elroy Crazy Legs Hirsch, Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch (June 17, 1923 – January 28, 2004) was an American football running back and receiver for the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Rockets, nicknamed for his unusual running style.
Hirsch was born in Wausau, Wisconsin. He developed his running style running cross legged over four square cement sidewalk blocks in his home town. Hirsch played for legendary coach Win Brockmeyer during his time at Wausau High School.
Hirsch played his first college season with the University of Wisconsin Badgers in 1942. His nickname was permanently affixed to him by Chicago Daily News sportswriter Francis Powers who, upon witnessing him play for the Badgers against the Great Lakes Naval Station in 1942, wrote “His crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions, all at the same time; he looked like a demented duck.”
His commitment to the United States Navy V-12 program in United States Marine Corps required him to transfer to the University of Michigan. He played two intercollegiate football seasons for the Michigan Wolverines where during the 1943-44 year he earned the distinction of being the only athlete at the school to letter in four sports (football, basketball, track and baseball) in a single year. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
Hirsch was drafted by the Chicago Rockets of the All-America Football Conference, where he played from 1946 to 1948, in three injury-prone seasons. After the Rockets and the AAFC merged with the NFL, he joined the Los Angeles Rams through 1957, where he gained his fame. Coach Clark Shaughnessy made Hirsch the first full-time “flanker” in NFL history, splitting the talented receiver outside from his previous halfback position. Additionally, he was one of the first to sport the molded plastic helmet that is the industry standard today in the NFL, which Coach Shaughnessy fitted for him as a precaution, as he was injured when first joining the Rams.
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