Nevers with the Duluth Eskimos
|Date of birth||June 11, 1903|
|Place of birth||Willow River, Minnesota|
|Date of death||May 3, 1976 72)(aged|
|Place of death||San Rafael, California|
|1928–1928||St. Louis Browns|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
World War II
Ernest Alonzo Nevers (June 11, 1903 – May 3, 1976) was an American professional athlete who played American football as a fullback for the Duluth Eskimos and the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL), as well as baseball as a pitcher for the St. Louis Browns. Nevers was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
To this day, Nevers is the only player in the history of the NFL to have scored 40 points in a single game. On November 28, 1929, Nevers scored 6 touchdowns and kicked four extra points for the Chicago Cardinals in a 40–6 rout of the crosstown-rival Chicago Bears.
Nevers attended Superior Central High School in Superior, Wisconsin and Santa Rosa High School in Santa Rosa, California, where he excelled in football. In 1920, as a senior, he led the team to the NCS Championships. In 1925, the football field at Santa Rosa High School was renamed Nevers Field in his honor.
Nevers went on to attend Stanford University, where he was All-American and played in the 1925 Rose Bowl against the Notre Dame and the famous Four Horsemen backfield. Having recently suffered a broken ankle, he played all 60 minutes in the game and rushed for 114 yards, more yardage than all the Four Horsemen combined, and was selected Player of the Game. Coach Pop Warner called Nevers "the football player without a fault" and selected Never overs Jim Thorpe as his greatest player. Nevers' #1 jersey is retired, one of three to be retired by the school. The others are Jim Plunkett (#16) and John Elway (#7).
Nevers excelled in several sports, including basketball and baseball. In 1926 he went to Jacksonville, Florida, where he organized the Jacksonville All-Stars, the city's first attempt at a professional football team. The All-Stars played two exhibition games against NFL opponents: the Chicago Bears, led by Red Grange, on January 2, and the New York Giants on January 9. However, meager crowds forced the team to fold after only two games, and Nevers signed a contract with the St. Louis Browns baseball team. Nevers debuted as a pitcher with the Browns in the 1926 season, and thereafter spent parts of three seasons with the Browns, most notably giving up two home runs to Babe Ruth in his 60-homer season of 1927.
Nevers would have better fortune in football, though. Despite reports that Red Grange and the newly formed AFL had signed him, Nevers's childhood friend and Duluth Eskimos owner Ole Haugsrud had actually signed him. The Eskimos were unique, as they had no actual home and played all their games on the road. Many consider that if Nevers had signed with the AFL, the NFL may have been driven out of business. After two seasons for Duluth, during which he played almost every minute on offense and defense, he did not play in 1928.
However, he returned to the NFL to play fullback and coach the Chicago Cardinals from 1929 to 1931. In 1929, Nevers set a record for individual points in a single game, scoring all six of the Cardinals' touchdowns and kicking four extra points, racking up 40 points against the crosstown rival Chicago Bears—a record that has never been broken. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of its charter class in 1963. ESPN ranked Nevers #25 on its Top 25 Players in College Football History, while NFL Network named him #89 on their Top 100 Greatest Players.
Nevers served in the military during World War II. Although too old to be drafted, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. While serving in the Pacific, he and his battalion were reported missing for several months. They were finally found on a deserted island, where several of the men had died. During the ordeal, Nevers suffered from beri-beri and weighed only 110 pounds. While he was away in the service, his wife died of pneumonia.
Nevers is the uncle of Gordy Nevers, who played minor-league baseball in the Kansas City Athletics organization, and the great-uncle of Tom nevers , who was a first-round draft pick by the Houston Astros baseball team in the 1990 draft.
- "Bowl Game Recaps" (PDF). p. 129. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
- Edwin Pope. Football's Greatest Coaches. p. 299.
- "Jaguars not city's first stars". The Florida Times-Union. January 16, 2000. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
- "Sports Superlatives". Fact Monster. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- "Sports Stars". Retrieved April 9, 2013.
- Wong, Gregg (July 23, 1989). "Weinke, Nevers Focus On Baseball This Week.". St. Paul Pioneer Press. p. 4.
- Ernie Nevers at the Pro Football Hall of Fame
- Ernie Nevers at the College Football Hall of Fame
- Ernie Nevers at the College Football Data Warehouse
- Career statistics and player information from Pro-Football-Reference • Databasefootball.com
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
- Ernie Nevers at Find a Grave