November 19, 2016

Highlighted Year: Benny Friedman, 1927

Tailback/Defensive Back, Cleveland Bulldogs

Age: 22
1st season in pro football
College: Michigan
Height: 5’10” Weight: 183

Friedman established himself as an outstanding passer in college and was a consensus first-team All-American in 1925 and ’26. Turning pro, he proved to be extremely accurate, if not possessed of an exceptionally strong arm, and was innovative in his willingness to pass on any down despite the less-streamlined ball in use at the time and rules that discouraged reliance on throwing the ball. Friedman was also a capable runner and fair kicker.

1927 Season Summary
Appeared in all 13 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

TD Passes – 11 [1]

Rushing TDs – 2 [14, tied with twelve others]
Receiving TDs – 0
Other TDs – 0
Total TDs – 2
Field Goals – 0
Extra Points – 11 [2]
Points – 23 [19]

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: Chicago Tribune, Green Bay Press-Gazette

Bulldogs went 8-4-1 to finish fourth in the NFL while leading the league in touchdowns (30) and scoring (209 points).

Friedman moved on to the Detroit Panthers in 1928 and again led the NFL with 9 TD passes as well as rushing touchdowns (6, tied with two others). The franchise was bought out by Tim Mara of the Giants and Friedman went to New York and continued to lead the league in touchdown passes for the next two years, including a remarkable 20 in 1929 (the runner-up threw 6). Friedman received consensus first team All-NFL honors in each of his first four NFL seasons, but a leg injury reduced his effectiveness in 1931 and he moved on to the Brooklyn Dodgers in ’32. He finished up with one game for the Dodgers in 1934, having already moved into assistant coaching at the college level that reduced his playing time. While passing statistics are incomplete for that era, Friedman was certainly far ahead of the rest of the field in passing yards (7650) and TD passes (68), and his single-season record of 20 lasted until 1942. Friedman went on to become a college head coach at City College of New York and Brandeis University, where he also served as athletic director. His brashness might have been off-putting, but he was a keen student of the game and one of its early innovators and notable performers. Friedman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2005.


Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970