Jim Crowley

For other people named Jim Crowley, see James Crowley (disambiguation).
Jim Crowley
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1902-09-10)September 10, 1902
Chicago, Illinois
Died January 15, 1986(1986-01-15) (aged 83)
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Playing career
1918–1921 Green Bay East High School
1922–1924 Notre Dame
1925 Waterbury Blues
1925 Green Bay Packers
1925 Providence Steam Roller
Position(s) Halfback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1926–1927 Georgia (assistant)
1928–1932 Michigan State
1933–1941 Fordham
1942 North Carolina Pre-Flight
1947 Chicago Rockets
Head coaching record
Overall 86–23–11 (college)
0–10 (AAFC)
Bowls 1–1
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1966 (profile)

James Harold "Jim" Crowley (September 10, 1902 – January 15, 1986) was an American football player and coach. He gained fame as one-fourth of the University of Notre Dame's legendary "Four Horsemen" backfield where he played halfback from 1922 to 1924. After a brief career as a professional football player, Crowley turned to coaching. He served as the head football coach at Michigan State College from 1929 to 1933, at Fordham University from 1933 to 1941 and at the North Carolina Pre-Flight School in 1942, compiling a career college football record of 86–23–11. Crowley also coached the Chicago Rockets of the All-America Football Conference in 1947. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1966.

Professional playing and college coaching careers

Jim Crowley played football and basketball at East High from 1918-1921. His high school coach during the 1919 football season was "Curly" Lambeau.[1]

Following his graduation from Notre Dame in 1925, Crowley played in just three professional football games with the National Football League's Green Bay Packers and Providence Steamrollers. In 1925, the Waterbury Blues signed Crowley, to join ex-Horseman Stuhldreher in the backfield against a team from Adams, Massachusetts. Crowley's regular job at the time was assistant coach at the University of Georgia. The Blues put on a good show by driving to a 34–0 triumph, with Crowley scoring three touchdowns and Stuhldreher booting two field goals and three extra points. Crowley picked up his check after the game and left the team.[2] Crowley stayed in football as an assistant coach at Georgia and was named head coach at Michigan State University, then known as Michigan State College, in 1929. In four seasons, Crowley's Michigan State Spartans went 22–8–3.

Football power Fordham University lured Crowley away from Michigan State in 1933. Crowley enjoyed tremendous success at Fordham by building one of the top defensive teams in the country. In 1936 and 1937. the Rams' stout defensive line, coached by future Notre Dame head coach Frank Leahy, was dubbed the "Seven Blocks of Granite." The defense was led by two-time All-American lineman Alex Wojciechowicz, who later starred professionally for the Detroit Lions and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Another "Block of Granite", Vince Lombardi, would gain fame as a championship coach for the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.

In 1938, Crowley brings a group of former college players to France for a series of performances to be played in various cities. In the Debut at the Parc des Princes in Paris a crowd of 20,000 attend the victory of "New Yorkers" against the "All Stars" 25-14.[3]

In 1939, Crowley coached Fordham in the first-ever televised football game. The Rams defeated the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets by a score of 34–7.[4]

Crowley's last two teams at Fordham each went to bowl games. The Rams lost, 13–12, to Texas A&M in the 1941 Cotton Bowl Classic and defeated the Missouri, 2–0, in the 1942 Sugar Bowl. Crowley left Fordham after the Sugar Bowl, having compiled a record of 56–13–7 as the Rams' head coach.

World War II and the AAFC

During World War II, Crowley served with the United States Navy in the South Pacific. In 1942, he served as the head coach for the North Carolina Pre-Flight School team and led the Cloudbusters to an overall record of 8–2–1.[5] In late 1944, he agreed to become the first commissioner of a new professional football league, the All-America Football Conference. The league kicked off in 1946 and quickly became a formidable rival to the National Football League.

Following the 1946 season, Crowley stepped down as commissioner to become part-owner and coach of the AAFC's worst team, the Chicago Rockets. Crowley's success as a college coach didn't translate to the pros. The Rockets went just 1–13 in 1947 and Crowley quit his dual role with the team before the 1948 season.

Later life

Crowley left football behind following his disastrous stint with Chicago, moving to Pennsylvania to become an insurance salesman. In 1953 he moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to take over as station manager and sports director of independent television station WTVU. Two years later, Crowley was named chairman of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, a position he held until 1963.

Named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1966 as a player,[6] Crowley cashed in on his football fame in the 1960s and 1970s as a much sought-after speaker at banquets and dinners. The last living member of the "Four Horsemen," Crowley died in Scranton on January 15, 1986.

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs AP#
Michigan State Spartans (Independent) (1929–1932)
1929 Michigan State 5–3
1930 Michigan State 5–1–2
1931 Michigan State 5–3–1
1932 Michigan State 7–1
Michigan State: 22–8–3
Fordham Rams (Independent) (1933–1941)
1933 Fordham 6–2
1934 Fordham 5–3
1935 Fordham 6–1–2
1936 Fordham 5–1–2 15
1937 Fordham 7–0–1 3
1938 Fordham 6–1–2 15
1939 Fordham 6–2 17
1940 Fordham 7–2 L Cotton 12
1941 Fordham 8–1 W Sugar 6
Fordham: 56–13–7
North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters (Independent) (1942)
1942 North Carolina Pre-Flight 8–2–1
North Carolina Pre-Flight: 8–2–1
Total: 86–23–11
#Rankings from final AP Poll.


  1. https://sites.google.com/a/gbaps.org/green-bay-east-boys-basketball/jim-crowley-played-basketball
  2. Hogrogian, John (1982). "The Hartford Blues Part I" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 4 (8): 1–5.
  3. "Parigi, 1938". Il libro "L'Europa lunga un piede. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  4. DeLassus, David. "Fordham game-by-game results (1935-1939)". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  5. Jones, Wilbur D. (2009). "Football! Navy! War!": How Military "Lend-Lease" Players Saved the College Game and Helped Win World War II. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. pp. 124–126. ISBN 978-0-7864-4219-5. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
  6. "Jim "Sleepy Jim" Crowley". College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
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