Another Incubator of the Forward Pass

Periodically, one reads articles regarding the early development of the forward pass in football. It is now well known that Notre Dame did not invent the forward pass in their 1913 defeat of Army. It is also well known that Eddie Cochams, coach of the St. Louis University squad was an early implementer of the new strategy. Now, in a 1921 book, The Forward Pass in Football, written by Elmer Berry, Head Coach of Football and Baseball, Associate Director of Physical Education Department, Professor of Physiology and Physiology of Exercise at International Young Men’s Christian Association College, Springfield, Massachusetts, I hear of another proponent of the airborne pheroid.

It is doubtless fair to say that the early development of the forward pass was largely due to two teams, Springfield College of the Y. M. C. A. and the Carlisle Indians. Their game in 1912 at Springfield is said by competent experts to have been probably the greatest exhibition of open football ever staged. It is doubtful if two such finished exponents of the open game have ever met before or since. To Coach J. H. McCurdy of the Springfield team goes the honor, in the writer’s judgment, of the early recognition and development of the strategy of the forward pass, for in this respect at least, Springfield excelled even the wonderful Indian teams produced by Glen Warner. No one team can longer claim a leadership in this or any other department of the game, but it is fair to say that the Springfield team has continuously demonstrated an unusual aptitude for the forward pass and a high degree of leadership at least among the Eastern teams. It is not strange, in view of the fact that the great leaders of football have not taken more kindly to the forward pass, that its underlying principles have not been more thoroughly worked out and organized. It is the chief purpose of this work to state if possible some of these principles and fundamentals to the end that the open game of football, always in the past and still to some extent opposed by certain groups, may be better understood, more successfully coached and more firmly and thoroughly established.

Further research is required to determine how much salt to take with Berry’s claim.


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