The Forgotten Star: WSU's Ed Goddard

LONG BEFORE the Throwin' Samoan, there was the Escondido Express. His number -- 28 -- remains unretired. His statistics? Mostly unknown. And his legend? Underrated, in some ways unrealized -- and like the man himself, understated.

The following column, which is reprinted here with John Blanchette's permission, accompanied The Spokesman-Review's September 22, 1995 selection of an all-time Cougar team to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WSU football.

LONG BEFORE THE Throwin' Samoan, there was the Escondido Express. His number -- 28 -- remains unretired. His statistics? Mostly unknown.

And his legend? Underrated, in some ways unrealized -- and like the man himself, understated.

Selecting an all-time Washington State University football team to salute 100 seasons of Cougar football was a noble enough exercise. There were obvious choices and impossible ones, but in the end only one question was never satisfactorily answered: What about Ed Goddard?

How does the school's only three-time All-American -- and first-ever first-round NFL draft pick -- not make the all-time team?

The Cougars' football history is storied, but not so rich not in the same manner of a USC or Notre Dame that leaving off a three-time All-American quarterback can be easily rationalized, no matter how he was chosen.

Ed Goddard was chosen in the most honorable way.

By other players.

There were maybe 10 different ways to become an All-American in the Depression era. Newsweek picked a team. So did Collier's that was Grantland Rice's baby. AP and UPI, of course. But Liberty magazine's was different; it polled players across the country.

And in 1935, no one was named on more ballots than WSU's Ed Goddard. That was his second selection to the Liberty team, and as a senior in 1936 he made it three. He was also on UPI's first team in '36, and AP's third team. He finished in the top 10 in Heisman Trophy balloting.

Liberty's picks disappeared from its pages six year later, and the magazine itself -- the second-largest weekly in America the year after Goddard graduated -- vanished by 1950.

Goddard's renown receded just as quickly, possibly because he gave up pro football after two seasons and stopped playing minor league baseball (in the Cincinnati chain) to go into education and coaching.

"I don't think he particularly liked to be the guy out in front," said the late John Bley of Spokane, Goddard's teammate for two years and good enough himself to play in the East-West Shrine game.

You didn't see players in those days point to themselves and say, ‘See what I did?'"

But if he'd been inclined, Goddard had plenty of room to talk starting with his first varsity game as a sophomore, when he accounted for all the TDs in a 27-0 rout of Montana.

Goddard came to WSU from Escondido, Calif., but he didn't bring the nickname with him. That was hung on him a week later by a Los Angeles Times sports writer who watched Goddard run and pass the visiting Cougars to a 19-0 victory over USC at the Coliseum.

But it was also something of a misnomer.

"He was not especially fast," insisted Harold Hawley, another former teammate from Spokane. "He was shifty and hard to bring down, but not all that fast."

"And he could follow his interference," added Bley. "When he didn't, he caught hell from us."

Goddard, who died in 1992 at the age of 77, told a newspaper reporter in 1987 that beating USC was "the biggest thrill of my life. They hadn't been beaten in three years."

Close. After losing to the Cougs in 1930, the Trojans won 39 of 43 games before Wazzu knocked them off again.

But for every thrill during Goddard's WSU career, there was often a misstep. In 1934, the Cougars were undefeated in Pacific Coast Conference play but a 0-0 tie with Washington allowed Stanford's Vow Boys to claim the Rose Bowl berth with a 5-0 record.

In 1936, the Cougars came to Seattle on Thanksgiving Day needing to beat Washington to go to the Rose Bowl -- but they came without three guards, injured in a blowout of UCLA. And they got stomped, 40-0.

"It was a terrible humiliation," Goddard told author Dick Fry in an interview for "The Crimson and the Gray," the official history of WSU athletics. "But we really didn't have the same ball club. After we played UCLA and got those guys hurt, we were through."

Goddard never did beat the Huskies -- or Gonzaga -- in three tries. But the Cougars finished in the PCC's first division all three years.

And the Spokesman-Review once reported that UW coach Jimmy Phelan called Goddard the greatest player he'd ever seen on the Seattle field.

But the greatest what? Quarterback? Halfback?

As an All-American and on the centennial ballot, Goddard was listed as a quarterback. But the only votes he received from the Review's advisory panel were as a running back.

"He was the quarterback," Bley reported. "In (coach Babe) Hollingbery's single wing, the fullback -- that was Rodger Dougherty -- called the signals. Goddard took the snaps, lined up as a halfback typical of a tailback today. But he was a true triple-threat player."

Indeed, Goddard put on some remarkable punting exhibitions, and in an era when the forward pass was regarded as an unnecessary evil, he still threw for a surprising number of touchdowns.

Goddard's statistical worth can be demonstrated only one way. In his three years on the varsity, Goddard ran for 19 touchdowns and passed for 13 more accounting for 63 percent of Wazzu's TDs.

For comparison's sake, Jack Thompson had a hand in 46 percent of his team's touchdowns in a four-year career, and Drew Bledsoe 50 percent in three seasons.

Different era, different game. Besides, the touchdowns only hint at Goddard's value to his team.

"Often times," it was written in the WSU yearbook, the Chinook, in 1934, "his spirit and enthusiasm were the difference between defeat and victory." "True," agreed Hawley.

"You could depend on him," said Bley. "He'd be there, he'd get the yardage, he could pass it and punt it. And he was a good teammate. He never got a big head.

"Personally, I loved to block for him."

And let the Express come rumbling through.

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