It is not my purpose to select an all-star football team from the long list of heroes past and present. It is not possible to select any one man whom we can all crown as king. We all have our football idols, our own heroes, men after whom we have patterned, who were our inspiration.
We can never line up in actual scrimmage the heroes of the past with those of more recent years. What a treat if this could be arranged!
There are many men I have idolized in football, not only for their record as players, but for the loyalty and spirit for the game which they have inspired.
When I asked Walter Camp to write the introduction to this book, I told him that as he had written about football players for twenty years it was up to some one to relate some of his achievements as a football player. We all know Walter Camp as a successful business man and as a football genius whose strategy has meant much to Yale. His untiring efforts, his contributions to the promotion of the best interests of the game, stand as a brilliant record in the history of football. To give him his just due would require a special volume. The football world knows Walter Camp as a thoroughbred, a man who has played the game fairly, and sees to it that the game is being played fairly to-day.
We have read his books, enjoyed his football stories, and kept in touch with the game through his newspaper articles. He is the loyal, ever-present critic on the side lines and the helpful adviser in every emergency. He has helped to safeguard the good name of football and kept pace with the game until to-day he is known as the “Father of football.”
Let us go back into football history where, in the recollections of others, we shall see Freshman Camp make the team, score touchdowns, kick goals and captain Yale teams to victory.
F. R. Vernon, who was a freshman at Yale when Camp was a sophomore, draws a vivid word picture of Camp in his active football days. Vernon played on the Yale team with Camp.
“Walter Camp in his football playing days,” says Vernon, “was built physically on field running lines; quick on his legs and with his arms. His action was easy all over and seemed to be in thorough control from a well-balanced head, from which looked a pair of exceptionally keen, piercing, expressive brown eyes.
“Camp was always alert, and seemed to sense developments before they occurred. One of my chief recollections of Camp’s play was his great confidence with the ball. In his room, on the campus, in the gym’, wherever he was, if possible, he would have a football with him. He seemed to know every inch of its surface, and it seemed almost as if the ball knew him. It would stick to his palm, like iron to a magnet.
“In one of his plays, Camp would run down the side of the field, the ball held far out with one arm, while the other arm was performing yeoman service in warding off the oncoming tacklers. Frequently he would pass the ball from one hand to the other, while still running, depending upon which arm he saw he would need for defense. Smilingly and confidently, Camp would run the gauntlet of opposing players for many consecutive gains. I do not recall one instance in which he lost the ball through these tactics.