clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

OTE uncovers a conspiracy 80 years in the making—while discussing NFL Hall of Fame

Worst Encyclopedia Brown mystery ever

Watch what you say about Bob Zuppke ‘round these parts.

Remember these words:

mnw: this all sounds like it’d be a great article

By the time you finish this article, I dare you to agree.

It all started innocently enough, as most innocent things do, with the Wisconsin Badgers. Yours truly was reflecting on Joe Thomas’s much deserved election into the NFL Hall of Fame.

As befits many “writers” around here, such a thought sent me down a time-wasting rabbit hole, and I began to investigate how many HOFers each B1G school had produced.

Kind of...: TIL Michigan State has only produced 3 NFL HOFers, and one of them is a kicker, so...Otherwise, it’s pretty much what you’d expect, including the school that’s produced zero (Rutgers) and the school that produced one (Indiana). Everybody else has at least two.

An innocent enough start, you say?

So I thought. But, even if you only think you’re taking a quick glance in the past, the past has its own thoughts:

thumpasaurus: Illinois produced the offensive player that singlehandedly put the NFL on the map, dick butkus who needs no elaboration, and also…legendary head official Shorty Ray

lol I know but it actually sounds like he was pretty important in developing rules that made football watchable and also making standards for officials. Unfortunately, that kind of makes him a blasphemer

Because the stuff he did made the forward pass viable


I wonder how many nfl hall of famers played for college programs that no longer exist

Kind of...:

A little school pride from the Illini fan. Par for the course, right? But by sharing a single link...

thumpasaurus: well shit you mean to tell me Arnie fuckin Herber couldn’t make varsity at Wisconsin after two years so he had to go to Regis College in Denver?

eh. I guess literally anyone could have become a legend as a professional Guy Who Throws Deep To Don Hutson

Shots fired! Normally this might lead to a playful—or not so playful—back and forth. You know, like how all of Illinois’ six HOFers were born before V-E Day or something, but thump had to keep digging...


nice try, wikipedia, but i know that’s not an nfl hall of famer

that’s jackie gleason

Funny, right? A little bit, at least? But then

thumpasaurus: WAIT A SECOND wisconsin writers and @mnw

I HAVE UNCOVERED A CONSPIRACY about crazylegs hirsch

Kind of...: Hint: the conspiracy is WWII

thumpasaurus: a huge number of schools, including wisconsin, were part of the V12 navy college training program

ISN’T IT INTERESTING that he just happened to be assigned to the university of fucking michigan and be available for the 1943 season?

...oh also an all-american center from wisconsin and a three year starter for minnesota got transferred to michigan as part of that navy training program? wow

RU in VA: The rest of the B1G is gonna need some recruiting reparations from this conspiracy

Holy shit! We were onto something. With the collective brainpower of this writing crew, we were ready to blow the lid off idly speculate. If only school pride wouldn’t have gotten in the way:

bendawson: World War II was started by the rest of the B1G to get rid of the greatest coach in the history of the conference.

thumpasaurus: idunno it felt like zuppke was on his way out anyway, i don’t think pearl harbor is what convinced him not to come back

bendawson: Did he get placed at Iowa Pre-Flight?

Must have missed that.

Distracted by Gopher/Illini grudges from the Depression era, thump and wsr lost the plot of our main investigation: the mendaciousness of Michigan, going back 80 years. Fortunately a fellow Badger fan arrived on the scene to re-focus our efforts:

MC ClapYoHandz: Hence why we rightfully claim Hirsch, and he has an 8k named after him in Madison so I mean that’s set in stone

thumpasaurus: so the us military decided to ratfuck minnesota and wisconsin while stacking michigan

they also buffed...purdue?!

Holy shit! The conspiracy to raid B1G talent in the 40’s reached all the way to West Lafayette? Welcome back thump! Let’s get to work!!

RU in VA: Psssh, while the B1G was producing fine young men to go win a world war, Rutgers Scarlet Knights was over here owning the Middle Three conference

How World War II got Harry Rockafeller his old job back, 77 years before Greg Schiano returned to Rutgers

Greg Schiano is not the first Rutgers icon to return for a second tenure as head football coach.

thumpasaurus: take that, lafayette and lehigh

Dammit. Nevermind.

You got lucky Michigan.

This time.

Don’t worry Crazy Legs. I won’t quit until this wrong is righted.

In all the excitement, I’ll bet you, dear reader, lost the plot yourself.

A quick reminder:

mnw: this all sounds like it’d be a great article

Now that we’ve reach the end, don’t be afraid to admit you didn’t see the twist coming. The mystery was never about Elroy Hirsch, or Michigan’s penchant for poaching talent.

The mystery, all along, was why the boss ever thought this article was remotely a good idea.

And, I’m afraid, that’s one mystery that I don’t think will ever be solved.