Football Legend Nagurski, Hall of Famer, Dies at 81

From Associated Press

Bronko Nagurski, who played with a mean streak and a mission and became one of football’s first stars, died of natural causes after a short illness. He was 81.

Nagurski, who died Sunday, was a 235-pound fullback who starred for the Chicago Bears and the University of Minnesota. He was with the Bears from 1930-37 and again in 1943 and was a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Many of Nagurski’s contemporaries considered him the greatest football player ever.

“Tackling Bronko was like trying to stop a freight train running downhill,” Ernie Nevers once said.


“He was the toughest fullback I ever met,” Mel Hein said. “If you hit him low, he’d run over you. When you hit him high, he’d knock you down and run over you.”

Nagurski also was a superb linebacker. In fact, he said that had he played in more modern times, when players chose either offense or defense, he probably would have been a linebacker.

Bronislau Nagurski was born in Rainy River, Ontario, in 1908, but has been known as Bronko since his very early childhood. His son’s given name is Bronko Jr.

Nagurski played fullback and defensive tackle at Minnesota and was named to the All-America team in 1929 at tackle.

Nagurski is survived by four sons and two daughters, 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Nagurski’s wife, Eileen, died in 1987.

Funeral services will be Saturday in International Falls.