It sounds like a cliché but Johnny Lujack really did ‘do it all’ at Notre Dame. As Frank Leahy’s star quarterback, he led the Irish to a 9-0 record and won the 1947 Heisman Trophy but not everyone knows Lujack also lettered in baseball, basketball and track. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears and by the fall of 1948, Lujack’s new Leaf football card was being chased by youngsters across the eastern half of the country.
The 6×8” photograph shows Lujack, wearing number 32, leaping into the air as he cocks his arm to throw (not many quarterbacks actually threw that way but it was a common pose at the time). The Associated Press photo is date stamped December 14, 1947 and was utilized when newspapers reported on his selection to the AP’s College All-America Football Team. Auction officials say it’s the first time they’ve seen this particular photo come up for auction.
Leaf cropped the photo to create a head and shoulders card of the young quarterback for its first and only NFL trading card set.
Lujack made $17,000 in his first season with the Bears but was used at defensive back and served as Chicago’s kicker, booting 44 extra points. By 1949, he was an electrifying passer, throwing for an NFL record 468 passing yards and six touchdowns in a late season game. While the record would be bested a few years later by Norm Van Brocklin, it remains among the greatest single game performances of all-time.
Lujack was among the first in a long chain of successful NFL quarterbacks who hailed from western Pennsylvania. The chain continued with George Blanda, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly. Lujack is 90 years old and the oldest living Heisman winner.
To bid on this photo and see more than 300 others up for bid this week, visit RMYAuctions.com.