Carlisle, Jim Thorpe, and changing your game…

Yesterday, during team practice in Kansas City, I mentioned a little history about Jim Thorpe and the forward pass. I was wrong with crediting him for the first forward pass, but correct that it came from Carlisle (Indian School).

The Real All Americans, by Sally Jenkins covers the story of Pratt and his big dream to educate, instead of anniliating the Indians. His vision wasn’t shared by many. He faught for it and eventually started the first school for the redmen. It was called Carlisle. By the early 1900’s they were playing football and were known as the most innovative of teams. Here’s an exerpt.

“As Thorpe walked out onto the field he thought, ‘If I have to lick all these men to play football, now is when I start.’ Warner tossed the ball at Thorpe and ordered an open-field drill. About thirty of forty players were scattered around the field. Thorpe began to sprint, cutting and weaving through them. Thorpe ran through the entire varsity ‘like they were old maids,’ Warner remembered. Some of them he outran; others he faked out and left facedown in the turf. Standing on the sideline, Warner was furious at his defense, but he caught his breath at Thorpe’s performance. After he crossed the goal line, Thorpe skipped back to Warner and tossed him the football.

‘I gave them a good practice, right Pop?’ Warner was goaded by Thorpe’s cockiness. He slapped the ball in Thorpe’s middle. ‘Well let’s see if you can do it again, kid.’ Thorpe cheerfully went back onto the field, while Warner had a loud word with his varsity. ‘This isn’t a track meet! Who does this kid think he is? Hit him so hard that he doesn’t get up and try it again! Hit, hit, hit!’ Thorpe ran through the entire defense a second time. Once more he tossed the ball to Warner, who stood there cussing both Thorpe and his defense. Years later, Pop Warner wrote, ‘Jim’s performance at practice that afternoon on the Carlisle varsity playing field was an exhibition of athletic talent that I had never before witnessed, nor was I ever to again see anything similar which might compare to it.’

In 1907 the football went airborne, and so did the world…in popular histories, the first use of the forward pass on a major collegiate stage tends to be wrongly ascribed to Notre Dame in 1913, and the tandem of Gus Dorais and Knute Rockne. In fact, the Indians were the first team to throw the ball deeply and regularly downfield, in 1907.”

Pop Warner mastered the rules so he knew how to break them in all the right places. Are your mastering your craft, friend, so you can change your game in all the right ways? Good…

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