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Norm Van Brocklin

Norm Van Brocklin - Football

Norm Van Brocklin established the tradition of quarterback excellence at the University of Oregon, won two championships in the National Football League and coached for 13 seasons in the NFL before the age of 50.

Van Brocklin was born in 1926 in South Dakota, but grew up in California and joined the Navy in 1943. He played at Oregon from 1946-48 and led the team to a 16-5 record as starting quarterback during his sophomore and junior seasons. He also served as punter. In 1948, under second year coach Jim Aiken, Oregon went 7-0 and tied California, which went 6-0, for the Pacific Coast Conference title, but missed a trip to the Rose Bowl when the Bears won a vote by other conference members. Oregon played in the Cotton Bowl, but lost to Southern Methodist 21-13.

Van Brocklin threw for 1,949 yards and 18 touchdowns in his two years as Oregon quarterback, and was named All-American after the 1948 season. He left school after his junior season and was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth round in 1949.

 Van Brocklin platooned with established quarterback Bob Waterfield in 1950 and the team established a scoring record by averaging 38.8 points per game. Van Brocklin led the league in passer rating, but the Rams lost to Cleveland in the NFL title game.

In ’51, the Rams again reached the title game and beat Cleveland 24-17. During the season, Van Brocklin threw for 554 yards in a game to set an NFL record.

The Rams also reached the league title game in 1955, where they lost to the Browns 38-14.

Van Brocklin played nine seasons with the Rams before moving to Philadelphia, where he led the Eagles to the NFL title in 1960. Van Brocklin was voted league MVP and named All-Pro in 1960. In his 12 seasons, he passed for 23,611 yards, 178 touchdowns and was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times. He led the league in punting average once.

 Directly after the 1960 season, Van Brocklin, at age 34, retired and became the head coach of the expansion Minnesota Vikings. He compiled a record of 29-5-14 in six seasons, before leaving to be an NFL commentator for CBS in 1967. The following season he became head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. In seven seasons with the Falcons, he finished 37-43-3 and had the team within reach of the playoffs before being fired in 1974.

Following his coaching career, he became a pecan farmer. He died in 1983.

Van Brocklin was inducted to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 1980, and the University of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.