First NFL draft in Philadelphia included 4 HOFers, Bear Bryant and top pick who never played
AP Photo/Anthony Camerano
In returning the draft to Philadelphia this spring for the first time in 56 years, the NFL is bringing one of its marquee events to its birthplace.
The league held its first college draft in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Philadelphia under the direction of commissioner Bert Bell on Feb. 8, 1936, and it didn’t include the same frills involved in the modern-day event, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While this week’s draft will take place in a 3,000-seat structure built atop the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps and be broadcasted to a national television audience, owners simply gathered in the Ritz-Carlton to make selections in 1936.
One constant, though, is this: The first draft in Philadelphia, like each one since, produced interesting results to review years later.
Here are nine facts about the 1936 NFL draft.
The franchises (in the 1936 draft order) were the Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Redskins, Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and New York Giants.
Tackle Joe Stydahar (picked by the Bears in the first round), fullback Tuffy Leemans (picked by the Cardinals in the second round), end Wayne Millner (picked by the Redskins in the eighth round) and guard Danny Fortmann (picked by the Bears in fourth round).
The first Heisman winner, Chicago’s Jay Berwanger, was the pick, but he decided not to play in the NFL, because he didn’t think it would be a lucrative career, according to the hall of fame. The Steelers’ No. 3 overall pick, Bill Shakespeare, also never played an NFL game. The other seven first-rounders played in at least 22 professional contests