Chuck HughesSo many things to write from the last couple of weeks and so little time to write them at the moment. A couple of items we'll revisit later as life for your NFL time traveller cools off a bit.

With the first of two annual meetings between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears taking place on Monday night it's time to fire up the Wayback Machine and travel back to Detroit to remember Chuck Hughes, the only man to die on the field during an NFL game.

October 24, 1971 – Detroit Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes collapses during a game against the Chicago Bears at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

On Monday Night Football, longtime NFL rivals Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions played game No. 165 in the series that dates back to 1930, when the Lions were known as the Portsmouth Spartans.

On October 24, 1971 the Chicago Bears travelled to Detroit to play the Lions at Tiger Stadium. Chuck Hughes was a seldom used wide receiver that had entered the game in the fourth quarter to replace injured receiver Larry Walton.

Hughes was drafted in the fourth round of the 1967 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He only caught six passes for the Eagles in three years before being traded to the Lions prior to the 1970 season.

Hughes had his most successful season in 1970 with eight catches for 162-yards while also playing on special teams for the Lions.

In the game against the Bears, the Lions were losing 28-23 when Hughes made his first catch of the season, a 32-yard reception to keep the Lions driving for a potential game winning score.

Detroit quarterback Greg Landry threw two incomplete passes and on his next attempt, missed tight end Charlie Sanders across the middle.

As Hughes jogged back from running a long pattern he collapsed to the turf at the Bears' 15-yard line. Teammates thought he was faking an injury and yelled for him to get up until Dick Butkus, the closest player to Hughes, started waving frantically for help towards the Detroit sideline .

Detroit team doctors Edward Guise and Richard Thompson ran onto the field and found Hughes already turning blue from lack of oxygen. The two started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and heart massage in an attempt to revive him.

Hughes never regained consciousness as they put him on a stretcher and sped him to the hospital.

In the meantime, the two teams went through the motions as they closed out the final minute of the game before a silent crowd.

After an hour at the hospital the doctors gave up and pronounced Hughes dead. The players in both locker rooms were in tears when they heard the news. In the Bears' locker room Butkus said, "The winning is spoiled. I'm not as happy as I'd like to be."

It was found out later that his family had a history of heart disease and that Hughes had arteriosclerosis, abnormal thickening of the artery walls. His blood circulation was impeded by up to 70 percent. A blood clot blocked blood flow through his coronary artery and caused his fatal heart attack.

Later, the Detroit Lions retired his No. 85. The team also established the Chuck Hughes Most Improved Player award. Matthew Stafford was the latest winner after his breakout 2011 season.

Today, the episode that took place on the field 41-years ago is barely remembered. Only a couple of images exist and there's no video of the doctor's futile attempts to revive Hughes on YouTube, things that would be all over the internet today. Even though he only had 15 career receptions, Chuck Hughes is a player that shouldn't be forgotton.

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Events:

October 15, 1933 – Philadelphia Eagles play the first NFL game in franchise history, losing to the New York Giants 56-0.

October 15, 1987 – The NFL Players Association orders an end to a 24 day strike. Instead of negotiating towards an agreement NFL owners employed teams of replacement players and continued with the regular season schedule. For more about this event see; Dropping Back: The Replacements.

October 16, 1921 – Jimmy Conzelman takes over as head coach of the Rock Island Independents from Frank Coughlin in the only mid-game coaching change in NFL history.

October 20, 1963 – Jim Brown breaks Joe Perry’s NFL single-season rushing record against the Philadelphia Eagles with an 8-yard carry in the second quarter. Cleveland won the game 27-7.

October 21, 1973 – Fred Dryer of the Los Angeles Rams becomes the first player in NFL history to record two safeties in the same game

October 26, 1993 – The NFL awards the league’s 29th franchise to Charlotte, North Carolina to become the Carolina Panthers.

October 28, 1962 – New York Giants’ quarterback Y.A. Tittle passes ties a single game record with seven touchdown passes against the Washington Redskins in a 49-34 victory.

 

Deaths:

October 17, 2000 – San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame defensive tackle Leo Nomellini died from complications from a stroke.

October 20, 2008 – Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame guard Gene Hickerson died. The Browns wore a “GH” sticker on their helmets as a tribute for the remainder of the 2008 season.

 

Notable Birthdays:

October 15

1953–Joe Klecko; Defensive Tackle (Jets/Colts) 1977–1988; 2-time First-Team All-Pro; 4-time Pro Bowler

October 16                                                                                          

1929–Walt Michaels; Linebacker (Packers/Browns/Jets) 1951–1963; 5-time Pro Bowler

Head Coach (Jets) 1977–1982; Lifetime Record 39-47-1

1961–Chris Doleman; Defensive End (Vikings/Falcons/49ers) 1985–1999; 2-time First-Team All-Pro; 8-time Pro Bowler; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012

1974–Jermaine Lewis; Kick-Punt Returner/Wide Receiver (Ravens/Texans/Jaguars) 1996–2004; 1-time First-Team All-Pro; 2-time Pro Bowler

October 17                                                                                          

1912–Socko Wiethe; Guard (Lions) 1939–1942; 2-time First-Team All-Pro

1918–Joe Aguirre; Placekicker/End (Redskins/Los Angeles Dons) 1941–1949; 1-time First-Team All-Pro

1920–Bob Reinhard: Fullback/Left Tackle (Los Angeles Dons/Rams) 1946–1950; 1-time First-Team All-Pro

1947–Ron A. Johnson; Running Back (Browns/Giants) 1969–1975; 1-time First-Team All-Pro; 2-time Pro Bowler

1957–Steve McMichael; Defensive Tackle (Patriots/Bears/Packers) 1980–1994; 2-time First-Team All-Pro; 2-time Pro Bowler

October 18                                                                                          

1933–Forrest Gregg; Right Tackle (Packers/Cowboys) 1956–1971; 6-time First-Team All-Pro; 9-time Pro Bowler; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975

Head Coach; Browns 1975-1977; Bengals 1980-1983; Packers 1984-1987; Lifetime Record 75-85-1; Division Championships 2; Conference Championship 1                                          

1939–Mike Ditka; Tight End (Bears/Eagles/Cowboys) 1961–1972; 2-time First-Team All-Pro; 5-time Pro Bowler; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988

Head Coach; Bears 1982-1992; Saints 1997-1999; Lifetime Record 121-95; Division Championships 6; Conference Championship 1; Super Bowl Championship 1 (Super Bowl XX)                                            

October 19                                                                                          

1974–Leonard Little; Defensive End (Rams) 1998–2009; 1-time First-Team All-Pro; 1-time Pro Bowler

October 20                                                                                          

1905–Keith Molesworth; Left Halfback/Halfback (Bears) 1931–1937

Head Coach (Colts) 1953; Lifetime Record 3-9-0

1927–Will Sherman; Safety (Dallas Texans/Rams/Vikings) 1952–1961; 1-time First-Team All-Pro; 2-time Pro Bowler

1932–Rosey Brown; Left Tackle(Giants) 1953–1965; 6-time First-Team All-Pro; 9-time Pro Bowler; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975

1950–Ray Rhodes; Wide Reciever/Cornerback (Giants/49ers) 1974–1980

Head Coach; Eagles 1995-1998; Packers 1999; Lifetime Record 37-42-1; Division Championships-1

1954–Lee Roy Selmon; Def Tackle/Def End (Buccaneers) 1976–1984; 1-time First-Team All-Pro; 6-time Pro Bowler; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995

1962–Ray Childress; Def End/Def Tackle (Oilers/Cowboys) 1985–1996; 1-time First-Team All-Pro; 5-time Pro Bowler

1969–Herman Moore; Wide Reciever (Lions/Giants) 1991–2002; 3-time First-Team All-Pro; 4-time Pro Bowler

October 21                                                                                          

1969–Mo Lewis; Linebacker (Jets) 1991–2003; 1-time First-Team All-Pro; 3-time Pro Bowler

October 22

1880–Joe Carr; NFL President from 1921 to 1939; under his leadership the NFL grew into a major sports league that first rivaled, then surpassed college football in popularity. For more see Dropping Back in NFL History: Joe Carr, League Leader.

1923–Pete Pihos; End/Defensive End (Eagles) 1947–1955; 5 time First-Team All-Pro; 6-time Pro Bowler; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1970

October 23

1914–Bruiser Kinard; Tackle (Brooklyn Dodgers/New York Yankees) 1938–1947; 4 time First-Team All-Pro; 5-time Pro Bowler; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971

1925–Gene Brito; Defensive End (Redskins/Rams) 1951–1960; 3-time First-Team All-Pro; 5-time Pro Bowler

October 24

1926–Y.A. Tittle; Quarterback (Colts/49ers/Giants) 1948–1964; 3 time First-Team All-Pro; 7-time Pro Bowler; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971

1949– Chester Marcol; Placekicker (Packers/Oilers) 1972–1980; 2-time First-Team All-Pro; 2-time Pro Bowler

1962–Jay Novacek; Tight End (Cardinals/Cowboys) 1985–1995; 1-time First-Team All-Pro; 5-time Pro Bowler

October 25

1895–Rip King; Fullback/Right Halfback (Akron Pros/Cardinals/Hammond Pros) 1920–1925; 2-time First-Team All-Pro

1912–Jack Kent Cooke; Owner of the Washington Redskins

1964–Pat Swilling; Linebacker/Defensive End (Saints/Lions/Raiders) 1986–1998; 2-time First-Team All-Pro; 5-time Pro Bowler

October 26

1944–John Elliott; Defensive Tackle (Jets) 1967–1973; 1-time First-Team All-Pro; 3-time Pro Bowler

1950–Chuck Foreman; Running Back (Vikings/Patriots) 1973–1980; 1-time First-Team All-Pro; 5-time Pro Bowler

1953–Louis Breeden; Cornerback (Bengals) 1978–1987; 1-time First-Team All-Pro

1970–Jessie Armstead; Linebacker (Giants/Redskins) 1993–2003; 1-time First-Team All-Pro; 5-time Pro Bowler

October 27

1929–Bill George; Middle Linebacker (Bears/Rams) 1952–1966; 8 time First-Team All-Pro; 8-time Pro Bowler; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974

October 28

1934–Jim Katcavage; Defensive End (Giants) 1956–1968; 2-time First-Team All-Pro; 3-time Pro Bowler

1966–Steve Atwater; Safety (Broncos/Jets) 1989–1999; 2-time First-Team All-Pro; 8-time Pro Bowler; Hall of Fame Finalist in 2012

1972–Terrell Davis; Running Back (Broncos) 1995–2001; 3-time First-Team All-Pro; 3-time Pro Bowler; Hall of Fame Finalist in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012