How Soon We Forget?
While surfing the sports media this morning I can across a piece concerning how the Broncos' Game One starting QB is Trevor Siemain. Quite correctly, it gives him the props in that promotion but then goes on to state that he is the first ever Northwestern University QB to achieve that honor.
I would have been more fair to state he shares that honor with HOF QB Otto Graham. It is true that Graham did not play his senior season at Northwestern, but the writer could have explained the special circumstances that affected this great player.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Otto, like many of his classmates, volunteered for military service. Otto joined the U.S.Navy and was accepted in that service's pilot training program. The Navy had its own reasons for allowing Otto to remain at Northwestern for his sophomore season in 1942 and again in 1943. He earned many accolades in making Northwestern a Big Ten competitor as well as himself. While Northwestern was part of the Navy's pilot training program, the Navy transferred Otto to Colgate University for his Senior season of 1944 where he successfully completed the Navy's requirements.
Otto Graham certainly would have played and excelled at Northwestern for the 1944 season if not for the Navy's decision. Their was a war to win and Otto followed orders and, therefore, did not actually graduate from Northwestern but did so from Colgate.
His career was closely followed by a coach connected with Ohio State University and the Great Lakes (Navy) football program during those years, HOF coach, Paul Brown. At war's end Paul Brown contacted Otto and tole him of a new pro league forming to begin play for the 1946 season. Otto was so sought after by Brown that he was given a monthly stipend to keep him until the signed contract went into effect. In the pro game at that time this was unprecedented.
We all know the rest of the story, of course, and that is why I think this writer should have, at least, given Otto a mention. Certainly, Trevor, is fully aware of the legacy of Otto Graham and would have considered it an honor to be mentioned in the same achievement as earlier mentioned.
You see, after winning all four AAFC titles, Otto Graham was the starting Game One QB for the Cleveland Browns in their debut game in the NFL. Otto's career became even more stellar, hence his enshrinement. And, by the way, my attended nearly all games played between our Cardinals and the Browns during Otto's career. This was over a five or six year span, and we never defeated Otto and the Browns. We did not beat the Browns til he retired. Otto Graham of Northwestern University is arguably the greatest championship QB in pro football history, certainly the best of his era.