Charley Trippi, the “Scintillating Sicilian”, is one of the greatest football players of all time. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968. Charley was born on December 14, 1921 in Pittston, Pennsylvania.
"I grew up in an anthracite mining community where everybody worked awfully hard at mining coal and it was a dangerous job, really. To start with a lot of people got killed there because of that. Of course, I grew up during the Depression, which in my case gave me inspiration to do something out of my life, because I did not want to ever work in the mines.” he stated in an interview for Remembering UGA.
He is the only player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with 1000 yards of receiving, 1000 yards passing, and 1000 yards rushing, sometimes dubbed a “one man gang” for his versatility and strength as a runner, passer and kicker.
A scholarship led him to the University of Georgia, which he took after requesting an extra year at prep school to improve his game as a halfback. He moved to tailback halfway through his sophomore year and gained 1,239 yards in total offense but he gained great notoriety in the 1943 Rose Bowl, where he ran for 130 yards and completed six passes for 96 yards in a 9-0 win over UCLA. He was named Most Valuable Player.
Charley served three years in the Air Force in World War II and returned to Georgia for the last six games of 1945. In 1946, his senior year, team captain Trippi went out in style in the season-ender against Georgia Tech, setting a Southeastern Conference record with 323 passing yards – the most in a single game at that time. With 84 points and 14 touchdowns, he also led the SEC in scoring. He rushed for 744 yards on 115 carries and passed for 622 yards. It was no surprise that Trippi earned the title of SEC Player of The Year, All-America choice, Maxwell Award winner and Heisman Trophy runner-up.
In 1947, Charley was hired by the Chicago Cardinals with the highest pay a pro player had seen in two decades – $100,000 for four years. Trippi was an anchoring force in the Cardinals’ “Dream Backfield,” and helped lead the Big Red to their last NFL title, beating the Philadelphia Eagles 28-21. Trippi scored on a 44-yard touchdown run and a 75-yard punt return, and rushed for 203 yards on 14 carries. He was selected All-Pro in 1947 and 1948, playing a total of four all-star games during his nine years with the Cardinals. Charley Trippi played quarterback in 1951 and 1952, running back in 1953 and defensive back in 1954 and 1955. He retired after the 1955 season.
He currently resides in Athens, Georgia, with his second wife, Margaret. He had three children, Charles Jr., Brenda, and Jo Ann with his first wife, Virginia, who died in 1971. The football stadium at Pittston Area High School (Pittston, Pennsylvania) is named "Charley Trippi Stadium" in his honor.
Going Back: Remembering UGA interview with Mr. Charley Trippi, conducted by Fran Lane on December 5, 2006.