Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Joe Savoldi: Running Back for One Bears' Season

Joe Savoldi was a running back that had a short history with the Bears.  Savoldi was a very good running back for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame.  But he got kicked out of school after it was discovered that he was secretly married in 1930.

George Halas had championed a rule that forbid NFL teams from signing players who had college eligibility remaining.  This rule came about when college teams got upset over NFL recruiting efforts.  The league had discharged the original Green Bay team after it picked up some college players for one game.  Many other NFL teams had secretly signed players on for big games.  The rule that Halas had favored was one that was clearly defined to eliminate picking up players early from college.

Halas however thought that Savoldi was not like other recruits. After all, he was out of school and had a wife to support.  After the Bears openly signed Savoldi, NFL President Joe Carr fined the Bears $1,000.  This must have been a huge sum of money as the Depression was just catching steam.  

Savoldi played a few games with distinction in the 1930 season and post season.  But for the following season, he left football to wrestle after he heard from a couple promoters with deep pockets.   "Jumping Joe" Savoldi was crowned heavy weight champion after a disputed win.  

He continued to wrestle until World War II.  Savoldi, who was born in Italy, became a spy and performed bravely for the United States when he was parachuted behind enemy lines before the allied invasion.  After the war, he had a brief wrestling career, went back to school, and them became a teacher in Kentucky.