The Bronk's Hitting Style
Bronko Nagurski had developed his style of hitting and tackling as a linebacker at the University of Minnesota. He would fold both of his arms across his chest and lean forward at a forty-five degree angle, driving his right shoulder into his opponent's sternum. The player would go down and stay down most of the time. Some players were left breathless, others unconscious.
On November 9, 1930, in Chicago, the Bears played the Green Bay Packers. During the game the Packers' Cal Hubbard said to Red Grange, the running back of the Bears, "Hey, Ghost, let me through this time. I promise I won't block the punt. I just want a shot at that Nagurski; I want to see if the boys as tough as everybody says." Red Grange, The Galloping Ghost, had seen enough of Nagurski's playing style to know that he was the toughest pro football player of all time and it was not just talk.
Grange agreed because he knew what would happen; this would be a lesson that Hubbard would never forget. Cal Hubbard came through the line full blast and came right at Nagurski and, when the Chicago Bronk gave him a stiff right arm to the Packer's jaw, there was a loud crack. The crowd could hear it in the stands.
Cal Hubbard was on the ground; once he got to his feet he was stumbling, groggy and having trouble focusing. After his lesson with the Bronk, Hubbard came up to Red Grange slurring his words and said, "Thanks, Ghost, my old pal. Please make sure that never happens again."
Early in the third quarter, Nagurski ripped through three Packer tacklers, Verne Lewellen, HB/FB and Cal Hubbard, T/G and one other Packer. He ran 57y before these three Packers caught up with Nagurski and brought him down at the 2y line. Carl Brumbaugh, the Bears QB (who was not wearing a leather football helmet), had tricked the Packers by using the Bronk as a decoy. Brumbaugh had pulled the ball out from Nagurski's arm and pitched it to Bears halfback Laurie Walquist who scored the touchdown, but the extra point was missed.
In the final two minutes of the game, Nagurski carried the ball eight times to the two-yard line. Then Brumbaugh handed the Bronk the ball, and he blasted through two Packers for a touchdown. However, he had been running with his head down and hit the outfield wall head on with his leather helmet and bent his neck. The crowd saw this and there was a loud groan all across the stadium. Nagurski was shook up from the crash; his legs felt like rubber as he staggered to the Bears bench. When he managed to get to the sidelines, George Trafton asked, "You all right, Bronk?" "Yep, Traf, but that last sonofabitch hit me pretty hard," said the Bronk. Trafton laughed. "Bronk, that wasn't no player; you just cracked a brick in that wall." Twice in his career he had run head first into the outfield wall at Wrigley Field. Two different times he was running with such fury through the end of the end zone that he ran down into the dugout steps.
The Packers went on to win the game 13-12. Al Capone, the Chicago mobster who was at the game said, "Greatest performance I've ever seen."