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(Oregon)...6'0'', 195...Alphonse Emil Leemans. . .Second-round pick in first NFL draft. . . 1936 College All-Star game MVP. . .Aggressive, dedicated do-everything team leader. . .Player-coach in final 1943 season. . .Led NFL rushers as rookie, 1936. . .All-NFL, 1936, 1939. . .Second-team All-NFL five times. . .Career totals - 3,132 yards rushing, 2,318 yards passing, 422 yards receiving. . .Had 25 TD passes, 13.8-yard punt return average. . .Born November 12, 1912, in Superior, Wisconsin. . .Died January 19, 1979, at age of 66.
The New York Giants first learned of future Hall of Fame running back Alphonse “Tuffy” Leemans after a vacationing high school boy, reported to his father what he had witnessed during a game between George Washington College and Alabama.
What he saw was a sensational performance by Leemans who from 1933 to 1935 starred for George Washington. The high school boy was Wellington Mara, son of the Giants owner Tim Mara. Thanks to young Mara, Leemans became the No. 2 draft pick of the Giants in the National Football League's first-ever college draft in 1936.
Tuffy was named the outstanding player in the 1936 College All-Star game and, upon joining the Giants, immediately took over as one of the NFL's most dependable workhorses. The 6-0, 195-pound fullback led the league in rushing as a rookie with 830 yards. He was the only rookie named to the annual all-league team.
During his outstanding eight-year career, he was named first- or second team all-league every year from 1936 through 1942, by either or both the NFL and a major wire service. A versatile player, at one time or another played fullback or halfback and excelled on defense. At the same time and certainly as a direct result of his play, the Giants were consistently contending for a title berth.
A native of Superior, Wisconsin, Leemans finished his pro career in 1943 with 3,132 yards rushing, 28 receptions for 422 yards, and 2,318 yards passing to his credit. He scored 17 touchdowns rushing, three on receptions, and passed for 25 more.
His career ledger also includes punt return and pass interception statistics. His marks become even more significant when it is remembered that the Giants of that era employed a system that saw two separate units divide playing time both offensively and defensively.
Alphonse Tuffy Leemans Enshrinement Speech 1978
Presenter: Peter Guzy
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen and honored guests. It is with great pride and a real pleasure to be invited here today to honor Alphonse Tuffy Leemans. For every athlete and coach watching thousands of young hopefuls participating in sports, it is a dream come true.
The dream began in 1929 when I was coaching football and basketball at East High School in Superior, Wisc. a young man by the name of Alphonse Tuffy Leemans came out for both sports and for three years was the outstanding athlete of the school. The dream developed when Tuffy graduated in 1932. After one year at Oregon University under Coach Doc Spheres where he made All-Pacific Coast team as a freshman, Tuffy then spent the three outstanding years at George, Washington University under Coach George Walsh. The dream grew as Tuffy was selected to play in the All-Star game in 1936 in Chicago.
He was named the outstanding ball player of the All-Star game. Tuffy then spent the following eight years playing outstanding football on defensive and offensive with the New York Giants. A head injury sidelined him to back field coaching for a brief period with the New York Giants. He then turned his efforts to coaching Arch Bishop Carroll High School in Washington D.C. and caring for his business, ventures.
Tuffy never forgot his high school coach throughout his New York days. Occasionally sending me a play or two along with many words of encouragement and he remained the gentlemen that he is in spite of his popularity and success. So today the dream comes true for Tuffy which he so rightly has earned and deserved. And for me the high school coach, whose dream it was to see one of his players so honored, is a person whom I respect and idolize, and it is with great pride I present Alphonse Tuffy Leemans to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Ladies and gentlemen, 35 years that's what it took me, and it is worth every bit of it - I have met the finest people in the world. It has been a long haul and a lot of injuries on the way, but I assure you today after seeing what I have seen, it is worth every bit of those bumps.
I am very pleased today to see two of my teammates here who I want to thank. One is Mel Hein of the National Football League and I always bring my blocker Leland Shaffer. In those days we were running from the single wing and I needed a blocker badly. I also want to say that I think my induction today is going to make a little bit of a history. Two of us came from a small, little place called Allouise, Wisconsin one was the NFL Hall of Famer Ernie Nevers and now Tuffy makes it. So, I think that is quite a thing coming out of a little place like that and have two Hall of Famers.
I want to say this, that I owe so much to so many to Pete Guzy, what a fine job you did and to the honorable Leonard Waltz, judge of the District Court, do U.S. District Court, I owe so much too. And then I came along and I was drafted the first man to be drafted with the New York Giants- not the number one pick by the second pick. And I was picked by a young 17-year-old boy who is now the president and one of my finest friends, Wellington Mara. I was his first pick and he is my first pick and I played under another Hall of Famer and a wonderful man, the late Steve Owen.
So, I had a pretty good background as far as football was concerned. And insane what I owe, my dad is still alive, he is 91 said he slowed down a bit, but he is still kicking, and dad if you are anywhere near, I'm with you. As you my wonderful wife, my daughter and my grandchildren thank you-I love you all. And I am very well blessed with a wonderful group and marvelous group, they came all the way out here the Touchdown Club of Washington D.C. one of the finest clubs are here about 25 strong. Thank you, gentlemen, for coming. They couldn't even get into the show last night. And to a wonderful, wonderful group that has just been organized, I'm wearing one of the jackets, it's called the NFL alumni group, we are organizing, thank you gentlemen for being here.
And I am so happy for my family itself, I mean I have got to be success I have about 15 or 16 relatives, in-laws, you know you got to be good to get your in-laws out, so there here, my blessings to you. And I want to say this that I am probably the proudest guy in the world, and I am so happy that today I never before allowed anyone to call me Alphonse, but you all can call me Alphonse today. Thank you.