Happy Birthday Tom Harmon

Submitted by zohizzle101 on September 28th, 2011 at 9:45 AM

One of the greatest Michigan Men to suit up in the Maize and Blue. 

Some fun facts and stats via wikipedia:

Harmon played college football at the University of Michigan from 1938–1940, he majored in English and Speech, hoping for a future career in broadcasting, and won the Heisman Trophy his senior season. He made his name as a tailback in the single-wing formation, and also excelled as a kicker. Harmon rushed for 2,134 yards during his career at Michigan, completed 100 passes for 1,304 yards and 16 touchdowns, and scored 237 points. During his career he played all 60 minutes 8 times. He also was a member of the varsity basketball team for two years.


Jersey #(s)
Born September 28, 1919 in Rensselaer, Indiana
Died March 15, 1990 (aged 70)
Career information
Year(s) 19461947
NFL Draft 1941 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
College Michigan
Professional teams
Career stats
Rushing Yards 542
Average 5.1
Touchdowns 9 (3 rushing)
Stats at DatabaseFootball.com
Career highlights and awards



Flashback in time:

On this day in 1940, which also happened to be Harmon's 21'st birthday, Michigan faced off UCLA where Tom Harmon scored four touchdowns to lead Michigan to a 41-0 win at Cal. During one of his 4 long touchdown runs, a Cal fan had enough of the Wolverine football star and decided to take matters into his own hands. Here is a news clipping of the incident: (via LIFE Magazine, Oct 14, 1940, Vol. 9, No. 16, Pg 47)

Full size article screenshot



September 28th, 2011 at 12:05 PM ^

There was nothing Harmon couldn't do on the football field.  He was like a freak of nature.  I'm still surprised that Cal fan ever thought what he did was actually a tackle.  The 2010 Michigan defense could tackle better than that.



September 28th, 2011 at 1:05 PM ^

What I take away from this:

1. The guy referenced the "safety man."  So the position was always called "safety"?  I've been a football fan for 40+ years but didn't know how far back the position terminology goes, given all the specialties of today.  QB and RB, sure, but I sort of thought "safety" was a term from the last 30 or so years.

2.  The story continuously references "California."  Is that what we call UCLA today? Obviously I would assume using today's vernacular that means the Cal Bears from Berkeley, but back then, was UCLA called "California" too.

3.  The fact that he got arrested way back then -- so, that hasn't changed at all.  They still had cops at the games huh?

True Blue Grit

September 28th, 2011 at 1:15 PM ^

they allowed freshmen to play in those days.  He was a great athlete in H.S. - if they had the star system in those days, he'd have been a concensus 5*.  He could run something like a 9.8 100 yard dash, which for those days was very fast.  But add to that great open field moves and tremendous running instincts, and you have Tom Harmon. 

Class of 1817

September 28th, 2011 at 1:51 PM ^

Thanks for all this good media, folks!

Got my #98 throwback jersey from MDen yesterday, just in time for Harmon's bday!

The article and vid clip have disabled my ability to say anything clever in the face of such amazing Michigan-ness.

I will now go and be mesmerized again.

Johnny Blood

September 28th, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^

Much more than a football player, he was a great American hero.


From the article:

Harmon had already survived a plane crash earlier that same year, when he ditched the bomber he was piloting during a tropical storm over South America. The only survivor, Harmon dragged himself for four days through the forest to safety, refusing to let himself drink a drop of water for fear that contaminants would sicken him when he needed his strength. It had been an astonishing display of will.

But what happened in China was even harder. In what Harmon would call the Chinese version of the American Underground Railroad, over the next 34 days he was stealthily carried back to Allied lines. His physical exam tells the tale. In it, Flight Surgeon Major John Burns concluded by saying,

"Thus, injured, with extensive burns which had become infected, at times delirious, suffering from shock and the weakening effects of loose bloody bowel movements, without adequate clothing or food, having no medical attention and traversing the expanse of the vast interior of China in unsanitary conditions where disease is rampant, Lieutenant Harmon managed, with his magnificent fortitude and what must have been prodigious stamina, to carry on until he was at long last delivered into the hands of his Commanding Officer at base."