Saturday, February 6, 2010


Bullet Bill Dudley, 88 years old, died Thursday. For most of you the name will mean nothing. But, it brings back memories of some of the best years of my life, my college days.

In the second half of the 30s decade the great depression was still affecting most of the country. There had been some recovery but unemployment was still high. The economy had not fully recovered until the war in Europe had broken out. Tuition, room and board at the University of Virginia was less than $1000.00 a year for out of state students. The student population was about 5000 in all the schools.Charlottesville was a small segregated community and although there were two railroads servicing it most travel intrastate was by bus.

Football at UVa was a joke, North Carolina, Duke, VMI, Washington & Lee regularly beat the stuffing out of the Virginia teams. The big sport at the school was Boxing and the University along with Maryland, the Naval Academy,Penn State, and Idaho were annually the leading teams in the country. Then in 1938 from Bluefield, Virginia along came Bill Dudley at the age of 16. He was about 5 foot 11inches and weigh about 170. As a senior he was an All American leading the nation in scoring and total offense. He was drafted by the Steelers and given a contract of $5,000.00 a year as a first round choice. He earned $25,000 in 1947 as a Detroit Lion.That year he scored 11 touchdowns;one one punt return,one interception return, seven pass receptions, and two rushes. He played for eight years after the end of WWII and of course is in the NFL Hall of Fame.

Dudley could not run fast, but he was shifty and very hard to tackle.He led the NFL in rushing as a rookie and earned all NFL honors. He was the complete ball player,being runner,passer, receiver, punter, kick returner, and defensive back. Today's players are all specialists.

I had a talking, not close, relationship with Dudley. His death on the eve of the Super Bowl is just a reminder how this nation in my lifetime has changed from one of bucolic innocence to a country of materialists.

As to the $5000 salary in 1942, in today's dollars that would perhaps be the equivalent of $200,000.00. It was good money.

1 comment:

  1. For a picture of the 1940's football uniforms see clips and link to times obituary-interesting.