Welcome to another entry of the What If? Fantasy Football edition. This is where I look back at a season long before fantasy football became prominent among us in our society as figure how the fantasy numbers would look if the fantasy game existed then. Today, we look back at the 1934 season for Chicago Bears star and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bronko Nagurski as well as his other lifetime accomplishments. I'm using the default scoring systems for Sporting News and Yahoo! to calculate the point totals.
Here's the point scale for SN(default configuration):
60 points for every touchdown
2 points for every rushing, receiving, and punt return yard gained
1 point for every kickoff return yard gained
2 points for every reception
1 point for every passing yard
-10 points for every kickoff return attempt
-45 points for lost fumble and interception
-2 points for incomplete pass
Here's the point scale for Yahoo!(default configuration):
6 points for every rushing, receiving, and return touchdown
4 points for passing touchdown
1 point for every 10 rushing and receiving yards
1 point for every 25 passing yards
2 points for every two-point conversion
-1 point for every interception
-2 points for every fumble
No points are given for receptions or return yardage in the default configuration.
Here are the stats for Bronko Nagurski in 1934 and fantasy points for the SN games:
Passing yards: 48 = 48 points
Passing touchdowns: 2 = 120 points
Incomplete passes: 9 = -18 points
Interceptions: 1 = -45 points
Rushing yards: 586 = 1,172 points
Rushing touchdowns: 7 = 420 points
Receptions: 3 = 9 points
Receiving yards: 32 = 64 points
Receiving touchdowns: 0 = 0 points
Fumbles Lost: 0 = 0 points
Total points: 1,770 points
Total points per game: 136.15
The Bears played in 13 games in 1934.
Here are the stats for Bronko Nagurski in 1934 and fantasy points for the Yahoo! game:
Passing yards: 48 = 1 points
Passing touchdowns: 2 = 8 points
Interceptions: 1 = -1 points
Rushing yards: 586 = 58 points
Rushing touchdowns: 7 = 42 points
Receiving yards: 32 = 3 points
Receiving touchdowns: 0 = 0 points
Fumbles Lost: 0 = 0 points
Total points: 111 points
Total points per game: 8.54
The Bears played 13 games in 1934.
Statistical source: pro-football reference
This was Nagurski's best statistical season in 1934. His numbers don't look impressive fantasy-wise until you see what era he played in.
During this same year, Nagurski's teammate Beattie Feathers was first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Also, players like Nagurski played both ways which factored into not having as good of numbers if they concentrated on one side of the ball. This would have made him an intriguing option if fantasy football would have existed then.
The Chicago Bears became the first team in the playoff era to go undefeated in a season. The team had star players in Nagurski, Feathers, and Red Grange to help power them to a 13-0 record. Though the Bears would come up short against the New York Giants in the NFL Championship, this was a very strong team.
Nagurski was one of football's biggest stars, and definitely one of it's most feared, too. Nagurski would have been a powerful presence in any era with his size at 6 feet two inches and weighing 235 pounds. He was bigger than many of the lineman of his time, and was notorius for his ultra-agressive play. He was the forerunner to many of the big and productive fullbacks that came along later.
Nagurski was such a versatile player that he was the first and only person in NFL history to be named All-Pro at three non-kicking positions(fullback, linebacker, offensive tackle). There was no one better at blocking and few could match his tackling ability on defense at the time. He also kicked a few extra points in his career including two in the 1934 season.
He also made one of the most famous plays in the early history of football when he threw a "jump pass" to Red Grange for a touchdown after faking a dive plunge on the run as the Bears beat Portsmouth in 1932 for the league title.
After not being able to get a raise to play in 1938, Nagurski retired from the game to become a successful professional wrestler. The biggest highlight of his wrestling career came when he won the World Heavyweight Championship(NWA) in 1939 by beating legendary wrestler Lou Thesz. He also once won the NWA tag team titles with another legendary wrestling figure by the name of Verne Gagne, too.
He returned to the Bears in 1943 after World War II had depleted the roster of players. His spirited comeback helped the Bears win their third NFL title in four years.
Accomplishments for Nagurski:
3-Time NFL Champion
Inaugural member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.
Inaugural member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. Along with Red Grange, they were the only two players in history to be inducted in both inaugural classes of the College and Pro Football Hall of Fames.
The Bronko Nagurski Award and is given annually to the best defensive player in college football.
Nagurski was an All-American tackle and fullback at the University of Minnesota in 1929. Because of his outstanding play at Minnesota, he was named one of the three greatest athletes in the state's history(Dave Winfield and Kevin McHale were the others) in 2000.
Only player in NFL history to be named All-Pro at three non-kicking positions doing so at fullback, linebacker, and offensive tackle.
ESPN ranked him No. 17 in the 2007 Top 25 list of the greatest college football players ever.
Sporting News ranked him No. 35 in their list of the 100 best players in football history in 1999.
NWA World Heavweight Champion in wrestling on two occasions. He also won world title versions in the Minnesota and Los Angeles areas as well as tag team titles with Verne Gagne.
Inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996.
My take: Simply put, he played for my favorite NFL team and was a pro wrestler which anyone that knows me is aware than I'm a big fan of it. So yes, I like reading about Nagurski. The only thing that would have made it better was if he played for the Oklahoma Sooners football team, but I won't hold that against him.
Nonetheless, those accomplishments and numbers signify him being one of the greatest football players on any level. And even though wrestling is built on scripted outcomes, he was still successful in that business. Looking at it, he's one of the most accomplished athletes that sports has ever known.
For those interested, he has a site dedicated to him: Bronko Nagurski.
If anyone wants to suggest a past player, then you can do so in the comments section. The only thing I ask is that the player and year be before 1990 because fantasy football wasn't as prominent then.
Past What If? posts:
Walter Payton's 1977 season
Gale Sayers' 1965 season
Eric Dickerson's 1983 season
Jim Brown's 1963 season
Dan Marino's 1984 season
Jerry Rice's 1987 season
O.J. Simpson's 1975 season
Johnny Unitas' 1959 season
Sid Luckman's 1943 season
Sammy Baugh's 1947 season
Beattie Feathers' 1934 season
Charley Hennigan's 1961 season
Timmy Brown's 1963 season
Rolland Lawrence's 1977 season
Dan Fouts' 1981 season
Don Hutson's 1942 season
Earl Campbell's 1980 season