Daley: RB's brush with fame

Art Schmaehl had a little in common with Jim Thorpe

In the main lobby of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, sits a huge statue of Jim Thorpe, who made fame as the first great pro football player and Olympic champion.

There is a quaint connection between Thorpe and the running back who scored the first and winning touchdown in the Green Bay Packers' first game in the National Football League.

That RB is Art Schmaehl, who played in Green Bay just one season – 1921. Curly Lambeau had heard of Schmaehl's good play in Chicago, Detroit and Muncie, and offered him $65 for that one season. Schmaehl weighed only 150 pounds, but the Pack's physician at the time, Dr. E.S. McNevins, called him "the toughest piece of flesh I had ever seen."

Schmaehl crashed through the middle of the line for two yards to tie the score at 6-6 in the fourth quarter of the opener vs. the Minneapolis Marines. Lambeau then kicked the winning extra point.

Schmaehl had played seven years of pro football before coming to Green Bay. In one of those games, he played against the fabled Thorpe.

Schmaehl, who became a loyal Packer booster by attending Packer alumni affairs until his death in 1967, recalled a game against Thorpe: "He was on a long touchdown run and I was the last man between him and the end zone. I tackled him on the five-yard line and he yelled at me, ‘you little son of a (expletive)! They came out to see me, not you!"

As it turned out, Schmaehl had a sweetheart in Detroit who wouldn't marry him unless he promised not to play pro football. That's why Schmaehl ended his football career after one year in Green Bay.

Art Daley

Editor's Note: Packer Hall of Famer Art Daley is a featured columnist for Packer Report and PackerReport.com. The former Green Bay Press-Gazette sportswriter and sports editor has covered the team since 1941.

If you have a question or comment for Art, e-mail PackerReport.com managing editor Todd Korth at packrepted@aol.com, and your question or comment will be forwarded to him.

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