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NFL – Special – Men Who Played The Game – Washington Redskins RB Ray Flaherty

DOG COMMENTARY:

This NFL Films production of the “Men Who Played the Game” featuring Washington Redskins RB Ray Flaherty is about an NFL Hall of Fame players who played for the New York Yankees and New York Giants during the 1920’s and 1930’s….is someone who this lil ole chiweenie Sportsphile had never heard of before I posted this video clip….for this man was not only a great player and NFL champion….but also a two time NFL champion head coach.

Raymond Paul Flaherty (September 1, 1903 – July 19, 1994) was an American football player and coach in the National Football League….and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame….who was part of three NFL Championship teams.

Born on a farm near Lamont in eastern Washington….who grew up in Spokane and was a multi-sport athlete at Gonzaga High School and attended Gonzaga University….where he played with Hust Stockton under head coach Gus Dorais…..who as a freshman, Flaherty attended Washington State College in Pullman….then transferred to Gonzaga University before his sophomore year.

Flaherty began his professional football career in 1926 with the Los Angeles Wildcats of the American Football League….a team of western players based in Illinois….who played all their games on the road in their only season…. which ended with a post-season barnstorming tour through the South against league rival New York Yankees. Flaherty then played in the National Football League (NFL) for eight seasons….with his first being with the New York Yankees (1927–1928) alongside Red Grange until the franchise folded near the end of the 1928 season. He joined the New York Giants, playing their final game in 1928 through the 1935 season….except for 1930, when he returned to Spokane as the head coach at his alma mater, Gonzaga….where he also coached the Bulldog basketball team for a season (1930–1931).  At the end of the 1935 season, Flahery’s jersey number 1 was ‘taken out of circulation’, thus making Flaherty the first professional athlete to have his number retired.  At age 26, Flaherty played a season of minor league baseball in 1930….as a second baseman with the Providence Grays of the Eastern League.

Following his playing career, Flaherty was hired by George Preston Marshall, owner of the NFL’s Boston Redskins, as head coach for the 1936 season….as the team won the division title that year….then they relocated to Washington, D.C. for the 1937 season….that is when the Redskins picked up future hall of fame quarterback Sammy Baugh in the first round of the 1937 NFL draft….and in seven seasons at the helm of the Redskins….Flaherty won four division titles in 1936, 1937, 1940 and 1942….and two NFL Championships in 1937 and 1942.  Among his innovations on offense, Flaherty is credited with inventing the screen pass in 1937.

Flaherty served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II….then returned to pro football in 1946 as a head coach in the new All-America Football Conference (AAFC)….where with the New York Yankees, he won division titles in each of his two full seasons at the helm….but lost to the Cleveland Browns in the title games. After a poor start in 1948, owner Dan Topping relieved Flaherty of his duties in mid-September….so, several months later he was hired as head coach of the AAFC’s Chicago Hornets….known as the Rockets in their three previous seasons.  He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976 for his contributions more as a coach than a player.

After the end of the AAFC in 1949, Flaherty returned to the Spokane area to enter private business as a beverage distributor, and lived in nearby northern Idaho….when during football season, he was a part-time columnist for the Spokane Daily Chronicle.  

As I began to learn more about Ray Flaherty….it was easy to see why NFL Films featured him in their NFL special series “The Men Who Played the Game”….for Ray Flaherty certainly deserves his place in NFL history….and of course, here at Imasportsphile.

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