Monday, October 5, 2015

Hawkeye great added to 1955-style All-Americans

A posting on one of the baseball card forums that a follow inspired me to jump my line of pending custom card projects to create a card for one of the greatest linemen in Big 10 history: Iowa's Cal Jones.

He is little remembered today by fans or collectors because he died tragically after just one season of professional football in Canada's pre-CFL era. His image, however, may be more familiar, as Jones was the first college athlete and the first black athlete to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. A tight portrait photo of Jones appeared on SI's seventh issue, Sept. 27, 1954. Jones was not named on the cover.

Another of his firsts was winning the Outland Trophy as college football's best lineman as a senior in 1955. In doing so he became the first black player to win one of college football's top annual awards.

There're many great accounts of Cal Jones on the internet, but I'll link one of the better write-ups here; it's by Maury White of the Des Moines Register:

Jones' story struck a chord with me because I'm a big fan of anybody inside or outside of college football who stuck it to Woody Hayes.

Jones did so in 1952 by walking away from his commitment to Ohio State so that he could attend and play ball at the University of Iowa with two of his high school teammates from Steubenville, Ohio.

Hayes' bitter protestations to Big 10 bigwigs was unavailing and no fault was found with Iowa. It is said the case was a major factor in the adoption of national letters of intent for college-bound players.

Noodle around a bit on the internet to read more of Cal Jones' story and you'll understand why I had to make a card for him.

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