On this Sunday Fun Day chock-full of football, let’s remember that John Wayne, America’s favorite cowboy, also stuck his hand in the dirt.
John Wayne, briefly, was an offensive tackle for the Southern California Trojans. This was back in the 1920s, when college football first started transitioning to the sport we know and adore.
Red Grange was a star of the sport. Teams were building massive stadiums. And some of the game’s best-known coaches were having their days in the spotlight. Amos Alonzo Stagg was nearing the end of his career. The decade also gave us more of Knute Rockne, the Gipper and the Four Horsemen.
Wayne’s football career didn’t last long. He broke his collar bone while body surfing. Coach Howard Jones cut him from the Trojans, but he still helped John Wayne get a job. That’s how Wayne ended up playing a Yale football player in the 1926 movie The Brown of Harvard. The Duke was 19 when he earned the part.
Now, back to present time. As the NFL readied for a huge slate of games, Sunday, the John Wayne estate posted a vintage photo of their dad with several famous defenders from the Los Angeles Rams. The John Wayne estate posted on Twitter:
“Happy Football Sunday! What team are you rooting for today? Duke is pictured here with the LA Rams David “Deacon” Jones, Lamar Lundy, Roger Brown, Merlin Olsen, & Rosey Grier on the set of The Green Berets. These are some big guys, making Duke’s 6’4″ stature look smaller.”
Hello! The John Wayne Estate Forgot to Mention the ‘Fearsome Foursome’
The John Wayne estate did some big-time name dropping. However, they forgot to add the biggest detail of all. The photo featured Wayne standing with several members of the “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line of the Rams. Deacon Jones, aka “the Secretary of Defense” is in the NFL Hall of Fame. So is Merlin Olsen. Lamar Lundy, Roger Brown, and Rosie Grier were all-stars. Although Wayne was a legit 6-4, the photographer noted that Duke was standing on lower ground.
John Wayne directed and starred in The Green Berets. The movie came out in 1968, but was filmed in the summer of 1967 in and around Fort Benning, Ga. The Los Angeles Rams defensive players were there to visit former teammate Mike Henry, who was in the movie as Sgt. Kowalski. Henry was best known for playing Tarzan in three movies in the 1960s. And he also was Junior in Smokey and the Bandit.
Like John Wayne, some of the other football players caught the acting bug after they finished with the sport. Olsen starred in Father Murphy and was in the cast of Little House on the Prairie. Jones had a variety of cameos, appearing in shows like the Brady Bunch, Bewitched and Wonder Woman. Grier also appeared in several big-time TV shows, including The White Shadow, I Dream of Jeannie and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
So like the John Wayne estate, we at Outsider would like to wish you, Happy Football Day!