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Brad "Whitey" Ecklund

Brad "Whitey" Ecklund  - Football

Brad Ecklund played his way into Oregon lore as one of its most versatile athletes and characters, starring on the field, in the ring, on the sidelines and even on the silver screen. Born in Los Angeles in 1922, Ecklund graduated from Milwaukie High School as a star in football, basketball and baseball and found his way to the University of Oregon in 1941.

At 6-foot-3, Oregon coach Tex Oliver moved Ecklund from fullback to center and he started as a freshman. Academics caused Ecklund to leave school and join the military, where he served in the Marines during the Island Hoping campaign in the South Pacific. Ecklund also took up boxing and became the Marine Corps Golden Gloves champion. He returned to Oregon following the war and played three more seasons: 1946-48, and helped lead the Ducks, with Norman Van Brocklin at quarterback, to the 1949 Cotton Bowl, which they lost 20-13 to Southern Methodist.

During his senior season, Ecklund, at age 26, regularly played on both offense and defense and was on the field for every minute of five games. He was voted All-Pacific Coast Conference in those three seasons.

Ecklund, who had been drafted by the Green Bay Packers following the 1946 season, signed with the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference in 1949 and played one season in the AAFC before it merged with the National Football League. He played four more seasons in the NFL in New York, Dallas and Baltimore. In five pro seasons, Ecklund started at center in all 60 games, played in the Pro Bowl twice and earned the nickname “Whitey” due to his white hair.

After five seasons, Ecklund returned to Oregon to coach high school football and moved to the University of Oregon sidelines under coach Len Casanova in 1957. Ecklund helped the Ducks reach the Rose Bowl in 1958, then moved to the NFL under Dallas coach Tom Landry in 1960. He was an assistant to Van Brocklin in Atlanta in 1968.

Ecklund coached in the NFL with five teams for 20 seasons, and had an uncredited role in the 1979 feature film North Dallas Forty.

Upon retiring, he became a substitute teacher in New Jersey.

Ecklund was inducted to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 1980. He was inducted to the University of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

Ecklund died in 2010.