Benny Friedman

NFL PlayerCoach

ImageWidth = 215
DateOfBirth = birth date|1905|3|18|mf=y
Birthplace = Cleveland, OH, United States
DateOfDeath = death date and age|1982|11|24|1905|3|18
PlaceOfDeath = New York, NY, United States
Position = Quarterback
Head Coach
College = Michigan
Awards =
Honors =
DatabaseFootball = FRIEDBEN01
player = yes
years = 1927
teams = Cleveland Bulldogs
Detroit Wolverines
New York Giants
Brooklyn Dodgers (NFL)
DatabaseFootballCoach = FRIEDBEN01
coach = yes
coachingteams = New York Giants
Brooklyn Dodgers (NFL)
coachingyears = 1930
CollegeHOF = 20078
HOF = 241
HOFYear = 2005

Benjamin "Benny" Friedman (March 18, 1905 – November 24, 1982) was an American football quarterback who played for the University of Michigan (1924-1926), Cleveland Bulldogs (1927), Detroit Wolverines (1928), New York Giants (1929-1931), and Brooklyn Dodgers (1932-1934). He is generally considered the first great passer in pro football. In 2005, Friedman was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Playing career

Friedman became the starting QB and placekicker midway through his sophomore year at Michigan. (On defense, he played in the backfield.) In 1925 and 1926, he led the Wolverines to 7-1 seasons and first place finishes in the Big Ten. Against Indiana in 1925, Friedman accounted for 44 points, throwing for five touchdowns and kicking two field goals and eight extra points. The following year, he was a consensus first-team All-American and most valuable player of the Big Ten.

In 1927, Friedman joined his hometown Cleveland Bulldogs in the National Football League. Pro football was a decidedly minor sport in those days, but Friedman would go on to contribute substantially to its growth. After a successful rookie season in Cleveland, he had a spectacular second year playing for the Detroit Wolverines. In 1928, Friedman led the NFL in passing touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and scoring as well as extra points. (He may have led in other categories, too, but the NFL did not record yardage stats in those days.) No player since has dominated in so many aspects of the game.

Friedman's performance so impressed New York Giants owner Tim Mara that Mara bought the whole Wolverines team just so he could have the rights to the quarterback. With the Giants in 1929, Friedman led the league again with 20 touchdown passes. Friedman's passing proficiency was especially noteworthy considering that most teams rarely threw the ball in those days. The football used at the time was rounder and more difficult to throw, and any incomplete pass in the end zone resulted in a turnover. No NFL "team" would surpass 20 passing touchdowns in a season until 1942.

In 1931, Friedman suffered a knee injury that hampered the rest of his career. He moved to the Brooklyn football Dodgers in 1932 as a player-coach while simultaneously serving as an assistant coach at Yale. He led the league in completion percentage in 1933 and retired after the 1934 season.


After leaving the Dodgers, Friedman coached City College of New York until 1941. He served in the Navy during World War II. He then moved to Brandeis University in Massachusetts, where he served as athletic director from 1949 to 1961 and head football coach from 1951 to 1959, when the football team was disbanded due to high costs.

Suffering from severe diabetes, Friedman committed suicide in 1982.

Despite his impressive numbers, Friedman was not chosen for the Pro Football Hall of Fame until 2005. Some people attributed this to Friedman's relentless self-promotion and campaigning for induction, which was considered bad form. Friedman is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

ee also

* History of the New York Giants (1925-1978)
* Michigan Wolverines Football All-Americans
* University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor

External links

*"Pro Football Hall of Fame:" [ Member profile]
*"College Football Hall of Fame:" [ Member profile]
* [ Article from the Pro Football Hall of Fame]
* [ Jews in Sports: Benny Friedman]
* [ "'Jewish Johnny Unitas' finally inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame"] by Ed Sherman, Jewish World Review, Aug. 10, 2005.
* [ Benny Friedman Biography at J-Grit]

Other sources

Carroll, Bob, et al. (1999). "Total Football II". New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-270174-6.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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