Luckman, Sidney

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LUCKMAN, SIDNEY (Sid ; 1916–1998), U.S. football quarterback, one of the pioneers who revolutionized the game in the 1940s as the first of the T-formation quarterbacks; member of the College and Pro Football halls of fame. Luckman was born in Brooklyn, n.y., the child of German-Jewish immigrants, and grew up in Flatbush near Prospect Park, where he learned how to throw a football. After graduating as an All-City half-back from Erasmus Hall High School, Luckman played at Columbia University from 1936 to 1938, and was named ap All-America third team, Grantland Rice All-America honorable mention, and ap All-East first team in 1937. The next year he finished third in balloting for the Heisman Trophy. In 24 collegiate games, Luckman amassed 180 pass completions in 376 attempts (.479), for 2,413 yards passing and 20 touchdowns. Luckman then played quarterback, halfback, and defensive back in the nfl for the Chicago Bears from 1939 to 1950, leading the team to five Western Conference championships and four World Championships between 1940 and 1946. Luckman's greatness and importance to the game was his unparalleled understanding and grasp of the complex T-formation, which brought football into the modern age.

In the 1940 championship game, Luckman and the Bears beat the Washington Redskins 73–0 in one of the most lopsided scores in history. Luckman had his best season in 1943, when he threw a record 28 touchdowns in 10 games – a mark that stood until 1959 – and gained league mvp honors. On November 14 that season, Luckman had his greatest single game on "Sid Luckman Day" at the Polo Grounds against the New York Giants, when he threw a record seven touchdowns and a record 443 yards in the 56–7 trouncing, the first quarterback to surpass 400 yards in a game. In the 1943 title game he threw for 286 yards and five touchdowns in a 41–21 victory over the Redskins. He retired following the 1950 season, completing 904 of 1,744 passes (51.8 percent) for 14,686 yards (8.42 yards per pass) and 137 touchdowns in 128 career nfl games. He also punted 230 times for a 38.4-yard average, rushed for two touchdowns, and returned 14 interceptions for 293 yards and one touchdown. His td pass percentage of 7.9 is the best ever, and his 8.42-yard-per-attempt mark is the second best. Luckman led the league in touchdown passes in 1943, 1945, and 1946, in yards per attempt in 1939, 1940, 1941, and 1943, and in passing yards in 1943, 1946, and 1947. He was named All-nfl five times (1940–44, 1947). Luckman was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1960 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965. He wrote Passing for Touchdowns (1948) and Luckman at Quarterback: Football as a Sport and a Career (1949).

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]