Indians’ Legs Better Suited for Kicking

Pop Warner made many observations regarding his Carlisle Indian players, almost all regarding their behavior, much of which he thought was a result of their culture. But on one occasion he discussed an anatomical difference he had observed. Warner claimed that the lower legs of white boys and Indians were different. It was his observation that one group’s lower legs dropped straight down from the knee whereas the other’s curved outward.* It was this difference that gave the Indian boys an advantage in kicking the football over white boys.

Warner often mentioned how his Indian players would practice some skill endlessly, in some case for years, until they perfected it. An example was Frank Hudson who drop-kicked footballs year round including when there was snow on the ground. He simply moved indoors to the gym during inclement weather. Hudson also practiced with both feet until he became ambidextrous (it’s not clear if ambipedal is a word) and was able to dropkick field goals with either foot. He also became the game’s best dropkicker, arguably of all time. In addition to practicing a skill, Warner noticed that that the Indians watched proficient players’ closely to learn a skill. An example he gave was of Mike Balenti kicking four field goals, two from over 40-yards away, against Navy without having attempted one in a game before. Balenti attributed the success to his having watched Hudson and Frank Mt. Pleasant.

Warner thought that many more Carlisle players were good at kicking than were the white players he coached before and after because of a physiological advantage. He believed that the shape of Indians’ lower legs was better suited to kicking. It would be interesting to know if Warner was seeing things or if what he said is true.

*I misplaced the article in which Warner stated this and would appreciate it greatly if someone could inform me as to where I can find it.

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4 Responses to “Indians’ Legs Better Suited for Kicking”

  1. Bob Carr Says:

    Frank Hudson was my great uncle. I am trying to find out when and where he died. I believe he was living in Oklahoma at the time. Please let me know if you have any information.

    • tombenjey Says:

      Thank you for writing, Bob. I don’t have anything on Frank Hudson after about 1930. When the 1940 censuses are released, I may find more about him. He must have kept in touch with some family members because they attended his induction (posthumous, probably) into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame in 1973.

    • tombenjey Says:

      Your post prompted me to update my research. I won’t duplicate the results here because they are on today’s blog. I don’t have the precise information yet but enough to help me find it.

    • tombenjey Says:

      The Spruce Library in Bucks County found the following:

      I checked our morgue index for 1900-1960, but there were no clippings about Frank Hudson. In our abstracts of obituaries/death notices for 1950 there is a small death notice: “Frank Hudson, died Dec. 24, 1950 in Wycombe, PA.; full blooded Pueblo Indian. Leaves no known relatives.”

      Now we know exactly when he died and where he was living at the time.

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