George Connor, 78, the first winner of the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s top college lineman, and a star for the Chicago Bears, died Monday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago after a long illness.
Born in Chicago, Connor was an All-American at Holy Cross before World War II interrupted his college career. After serving in the Navy during the war, Connor played for Notre Dame University and made All American twice. He won the first Outland Trophy in 1946.
After college, he played for the Chicago Bears for eight seasons, and became pro football’s premier tackle both offensively and defensively. He later played linebacker and became the first of the league’s big, mobile players at that position.
Connor made all-pro four straight years as a tackle and three seasons as a linebacker. He also played in four Pro Bowl games. He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1975. After a knee injury forced him to retire, Connor served as an assistant coach with the Bears and later as a broadcaster. He went on to have a successful business career in Chicago.