Roar, Lion, Roar: A Celebration of Columbia Football

People > Players 1920s-1930s > Sid Luckman

LIFE Magazine. Cover

Cover of LIFE Magazine from October 24, 1938 featuring Columbia football player Sid Luckman as the “Best Passer.”

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Sid Luckman, CC 1939

After meeting Coach Lou Little, Sid Luckman chose Columbia from over 40 colleges actively recruiting him. He attended the New College for the Education of Teachers, an undergraduate school within Teachers College. He later transferred to Columbia College in 1939 when New College closed. Luckman did not play football his freshman season to concentrate on his studies, but became an immediate starter in 1936, his sophomore season, completing 46 percent of his passes and throwing six touchdown passes in seven games. With no available football scholarships, Luckman had to work a variety of odd jobs including babysitting for alumni, washing dishes at Zeta Beta Tau, and even chauffeuring Mrs. Little. While the Lions managed only a 10-14-2 record during his Columbia career, Luckman ran up impressive individual statistics: 180 pass completions in 376 attempts, for 2,413 yards passing and 20 touchdown passes. A nationally known passer, Luckman finished third in balloting for the 1938 Heisman Trophy and was a second-team All-American. Drafted second-overall by the Chicago Bears in 1939, Luckman went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Bears, including a 73-0 victory over Washington in the 1940 NFL Championship Game. He is the only Columbian inducted into the College and Professional Football Halls of Fame.

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