Posts Tagged ‘Sports Illustrated’

The Single-Wing May Be Off life Support

December 5, 2008

Jim Sweeney, the life-long Army fan who told me about the Sports Illustrated article, shared with me that on Thanksgiving Day he was able to watch, on ESPN2 no less, two Jesuit high schools from New York City play each other in an 85-year long Thanksgiving tradition. Xavier High played Fordham Prep at Fordham Field in the Bronx. Sweeney’s (also JoePa’s) alma mater, Brooklyn Prep, was, until it closed in 1973, the third Jesuit high school in the City. You probably already know that Joe Paterno played tailback in Brooklyn Prep’s double-wing and that his brother, George, was fullback. Something few of us know is that both Xavier and Fordham Prep are NOW running the single-wing. What a treat it must have been for Jim to watch these teams in the comfort of his living room.

Another result of the Sports Illustrated article or the fact that NFL teams are dabbling with the single-wing is that I was interviewed yesterday by the local NBC affiliate about the connection between the Wildcat formation and Carlisle Indian School. After interviewing me, reporter George Lettis visited Carlisle Barracks and shot part of his piece on Indian Field. WGAL’s website has an article on its website that can be found at The broadcast video can be found at In addition to footage of Lettis and me, portions of the documentary Tom McCue and I made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the single-wing are included. Narrator Lynn Myers’ voice comes through loud and clear.

It will be interesting to see how long NFL coaches run the Wildcat or other versions of the single-wing before they admit that the fundamental formation was developed a century ago by Pop Warner for the Carlisle Indians. Some think that NFL coaches will continue to obfuscate this point so as not to appear to be behind the times by 100 years.

Single-Wing Article in Sports Illustrated

December 2, 2008

The December 1 issue of Sports Illustrated has an article on the single-wing. The writer, Tim Layden, first discusses the formation’s current use at Apopka High 15 miles northwest of Orlando and in the NFL by the Dolphins in their unexpected victory over the unsuspecting New England Patriots. Also mentioned is Todd Bross, organizer of the annual spring conclave at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, PA. (It was Todd Bross and Ted Seay who urged me to research Pop Warner’s correspondence course in football that was first published in 1908). Layden discussed the renaissance the single-wing is undergoing but was apparently unaware that little Windber Area High School is running it as he was probably unaware of my documentary in which they were featured.

The article talks about viewing old films over Ed Racely’s garage on Cape Cod. Racely, now 80, has been studying the single-wing longer than anyone. Layden then goes into the single-wing’s history beginning with President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905 threat to ban the game unless rule changes weren’t made to clean up the game. He goes on the mention that Pop Warner coached Carlisle Indian School from 1907 to 1914 and quotes Warner as having first used early incarnations of the single wing by the Carlisle Indians in response to the 1906 rule changes. He is apparently unaware of Pop’s earlier tenure at Carlisle (1899-1903) and of my research that uncovered Warner’s weeklong visit with the Carlisle coaches shortly before the start of the 1906 season. He made no mention of the revisions to Warner’s correspondence course between 1909 and 1911, nor did he mention my publication of the offense pamphlets from the correspondence course. The diagrams found those pamphlets represent the earliest known documentation of the single-wing. A 1924 newspaper interview of Warner was accompanied by a diagram of a formation that “The Old Fox” designed in 1902 to protect injured linemen Antonio Lubo, Martin Wheelock and Albert Exendine and to adjust for injured first-string center, Nikifer Schouchuk. It’s too bad that wingback diagram wasn’t made public a couple of decades earlier. The Sports Illustrated article can be found at:

Lone Star’s Baby Curls

June 2, 2008

A 1974 Sports Illustrated article that was stuffed into the back of the Sports Immortals brochure included something of particular interest to me: “William (Lone Star) Dietz’ baby curls from his first haircut are not in Los Angeles’ Citizen’s Savings (née Helms) Athletic Foundation Hall.” The article went on to say that Lone Star’s baby curls along with a lot, and I mean a lot, of other sports memorabilia are in Joel Platt’s collection. As Lone Star’s biographer, I find this to be very interesting because I was previously unaware of the existence of Dietz’s locks. Considering that the color of his hair at birth was a significant issue at Lone Star’s WWI draft evasion trial, makes this artifact all the more important.

Leanna Ginder Dietz Lewis raised Lone Star and would have had his baby curls. She probably gave them to him and his wife, Doris, when she visited them in Reading. They would have likely remained in his estate until the executrix gave them to Joel Platt.

The prominent mention of Dietz-related memorabilia and the reference to Helms Athletic Foundation attest to his importance to the history of the game. Preceding the curls in the article were mentions of the Polo Grounds’ home plate crossed by Bobby Thompson after hitting his historic home run, Babe Ruth’s Boston Braves uniform worn when he hit his last three home runs, Bronko Nagurski’s 1934 contract with the Bears, and Pudge Heffelfinger’s Yale pants and pads. Following the curls’ mention were Gene Tunney’s long-count gloves and Cassius Clay’s 1960 Olympic Games sweatshirt. Some company, huh?

The Citizen’s Savings Athletic Foundation was a prestigious institution that inducted Lone Star into its hall of fame in 1976. Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner were the only other Carlislers inducted therein. The prominence of Dietz’s mention by Sports Illustrated is further evidence that he should be ensconced in the College Football Hall of Fame. A photo of an older Lone Star Dietz was slipped into the brochure along with the Sports Illustrated article. See below.