Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Remembering Willie Galimore and John Farrington

Often described as one of the most elusive runners in NFL history, Willie Galimore played halfback for the Bears from 1957-1963.  He was known for making quick movements in any direction—even backwards—that prevented tacklers from grasping him. Once he had an opening, he would head towards the goal while accelerating at uncatchable speeds. Mike Ditka described some of his teammates on the Bears as very fast, but when he talked about Galimore, he simply said "he could fly."  Galimore attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) where he rushed for 3,592 yards and set numerous records. He played seven seasons for the Bears and gained 2,985 yards on the ground and 1,201 yards receiving for a total of 4,186. He was called Willie "the Whisp" Galimore.

John "Bo" Farrington was a 6-foot-3 receiver who had been on the Bears for four seasons from 1959-1963.  He had a 98 yard touchdown reception in 1961 that was tops for the year.  Farrington played with Johnny Morris and Mike Ditka, two of the best receivers in football. He had attended Prairie View A & M.

The Bears had won the 1963 NFL Championship.  The team was strong and stocked with great players on both defense and offense.  Halas described the Bears 1963 Championship as his "biggest personal satisfaction."  Things looked great for the Bears heading into their 1964 season. But tragedy struck.

On July 26, 1964, while the Bears were preparing for the College All-Star Game, teammates Willie Galimore and John Farrington were killed in an automobile accident.  The deaths shocked and saddened the Bears.  Galimore left a wife and three small children and Farrington left a wife. George Halas called it the saddest day in Bears' history. In less than a year the Bears had gone from being national champion to mourning the loss of two teammates. 

It was a tragic beginning to a poor season for the Bears.  The Bears did not play like a championship team and finished the season at 5–9.  

Copyright 2014, Sporting Chance Press

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships and other fine book including Maddie Takes the Ice;  The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life);  Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle; and Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout.  Seen here.