George McAfee

George McAfee

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McAfee with the Chicago Bears
No. 5
Position: Halfback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1918-03-13)March 13, 1918
Place of birth: Corbin, Kentucky
Date of death: March 4, 2009(2009-03-04) (aged 90)
Place of death: Durham, North Carolina
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 178 lb (81 kg)
Career information
High school: Ironton (OH)
College: Duke
NFL Draft: 1940 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards: 1,685
Rushing touchdowns: 21
Receiving yards: 1,359
Receiving touchdowns: 11
Return touchdowns: 4
Interceptions: 25
Player stats at PFR

George Anderson McAfee (March 13, 1918  March 4, 2009) was a professional American football player. He played halfback for the Chicago Bears from 1940 to 1941 and 1945 to 1950. He played college football at Duke University. McAfee is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Early life and college

George McAfee was born in Corbin, Kentucky. He was one of several brothers, including future NFL halfback Wes McAfee. Soon after his birth, his family moved to Ironton, Ohio, where he attended Ironton High School.[1] McAfee played college football for the Duke Blue Devils football team of Duke University from 1937 to 1939. During his three years at Duke, the team compiled a record of 24–4–1. He led the Blue Devils to Southern Conference (SoCon) championships in 1938 and 1939. In his senior season in 1939, he led the team in rushing, receiving, scoring, kickoff returns, punt returns, interceptions, and punting. He earned All-America honors from the Associated Press, United Press, Central Press, and Newspaper Enterprise Association, among others.[2]

McAfee also batted .353 as a center fielder for the Duke Blue Devils baseball team and captured a SoCon 100-meter championship as a senior.[2]

Professional career

During his time playing pro football, he scored 234 points, gained 5,313 combined net yards, intercepted 25 passes in eight seasons, held the record for punt return average at 12.78 yards, and was the NFL punt return champion. Among some of his feats, he returned a punt for 75 yards to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers during his first exhibition game with the Bears, and ran back a kickoff for 93 yards and threw a touchdown pass to help the Bears win over their rival, the Green Bay Packers. From 1942 to 1945 he served in the Navy during World War II and missed potentially his best football playing years.

Nicknamed "One-Play McAfee", he was known for explosive speed (100 yard dash in 9.7). Red Grange, a star of earlier Bears teams, called McAfee "the most dangerous man with the football in the game."[1]

1941 was a banner year for McAfee: He led the league with an eye-popping 7.3 rushing yards per carry while scoring a league high 12 touchdowns in an eleven-game season. While his rushing yardage totals seem modest by today's standards, he had to share the backfield with other outstanding running backs, such as Hugh Gallarneau, Norm Standlee, and Bill Osmanski, as well as Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman. Known for his versatility, in 1941 his 12-touchdown total consisted of six by rushing, three receiving, one by punt return, one by kickoff return, and one by interception return, all while helping the Chicago Bears to their second straight NFL league championship over the New York Giants.


McAfee developed dementia in his later years and moved into Cypress Court, an assisted living facility specializing in Alzheimer's and memory care in Decatur, Georgia. Cypress Court is owned and operated by the Seattle-based Emeritus Senior Living. In February 2009, McAfee wandered out of his room at Cypress Court and accessed a toxic substance that was supposed to be kept in a locked cabinet. McAfee then ingested the toxic substance and died as a result of chemical burns to his lips, esophagus, and lungs.[3][4] The State of Georgia found Emeritus negligent in McAfee's death. McAfee's family sued Emeritus and ultimately settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. The circumstances surrounding McAfee's death were featured in the 2013 PBS Frontline documentary "Life and Death in Assisted Living".[5]


  1. 1 2 Litsky, Frank (March 5, 2009). "George McAfee, N.F.L. Hall of Famer, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  2. 1 2 "Hall of Famer George McAfee Passes Away". National Football Foundation. March 5, 2009. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  3. "Report: Bears great McAfee died after drinking poison in assisted living". Chicago Tribune. July 31, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  4. James, Susan Donaldson (July 30, 2013). "Dad Dies After Drinking Poison in Assisted Living". ABC News. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  5. Thompson, A.C. (August 1, 2013). "The Deaths and Disappearance that Haunt Assisted Living". Frontline. CBS. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
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