John U. Bacon on Bob Chappuis

Submitted by Everyone Murders on June 29th, 2012 at 8:36 AM

John U. Bacon contributed a great story to the Detroit News regarding Michigan legend Bob Chappuis.  Very much a human interest piece, but Chappuis was a very interesting human.  Article is here:|newswell|text|Sports|p .

Among the tidbits is the fact that Chappuis's father told Chappuis that he could go to any college he wanted - other than Ohio State.  A lot of the article focuses on Chappuis's service in WWII, including a story of him being shot down behind enemy lines in Italy:


he and two crewmates hid in a ditch behind some bushes while Italian soldiers marched by. One of his crewmates pulled out his knife, and motioned for them to attack. Chappuis grabbed his shoulder, pushed him down and whispered, "They've got us outnumbered 10-to-1, and they've got guns. I think you've seen too many Hollywood movies. We are staying put."

I strongly recommend the entire article.  A great read for the long slow summer.



June 29th, 2012 at 9:27 AM ^

Thanks for posting, this was an interesting ready.  I'm sure Chappuis appreciated the part of LOTR where Sam and Frodo watching the orcs march by at the stairs of Cirith Ungol.


June 29th, 2012 at 9:42 AM ^

That was a great read. Thanks for sharing.

I liked what seems to be Chappuis' very grounded perspective on things, as you get the sense that this seemed to permeate his character. I really enjoyed his other quote regarding being shot down:

"Everybody says we're heroes. But what kind of idiot wouldn't jump from a burning plane?"

It seems like it was that level head that kept him through WWII and brought him back to Michigan. I honestly wish I had known more than the just the name before his passing as well.


June 29th, 2012 at 10:55 AM ^

It would be interesting to know exactly how many Michigan players were WW2 vets, whether they played pre or post war or both.  Obviously Chappuis and Harmon, but who else, what branches of service, and in what major battles/campaigns did they participate?

Actually, that would be an interesting book for Bacon to do next, if there is enough information available...

M Fanfare

June 29th, 2012 at 3:04 PM ^

Alvin Wistert was a WWII veteran. He was the last of the three Wisterts to play although he was actually the second oldest of the three. He dropped out of high school to work in a factory and helped pay for Albert to go to Michigan. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940 and served through the war, then took a high school equivalency course at Boston University (at 30 years old), then transferred to Michigan to play football. He started from 1947 to 1949, and was All-America in 1948 and 1949 (the only Wistert to be a two-time All-American) and was team captain in 1949 (the only Wistert to serve as team captain). He still holds the record for the oldest player to be named All-America at age 33.


June 29th, 2012 at 10:41 AM ^

Priceless emotional when I read that piece. It should be an MGoShirt. Very fitting article leading into Independence Day celebrations.


June 29th, 2012 at 10:50 AM ^

Thanks for posting. 

I wonder if, post-liberation, he was ever able to get the Italian resistance to dig up that ring??

Also: wow, the Michigan-Ohio hatefest was that strong even back then.  Thank God Chappuis he had a good father who raised him to believe the right things.


June 29th, 2012 at 11:11 AM ^

This sort of passed uncommented, but he was quick enough to play tailback on offense but in the article Chappuis noted that he couldn't play on defense because of his lack of speed or quickness. It seems that Crisler wanted a really fast swarming defense and was willing to put his fastest players on that side of the ball.

True Blue Grit

June 29th, 2012 at 11:16 AM ^

I went to an evening program at my father-in-law's senior community this spring, and saw Bob Chappuis there, although I didn't know it at the time.  (Apparently he was a resident there too)  I wish I had known who he was, as I would have loved to have met him.  His war story rivals that of Tom Harmon's.  We certainly lost a great Michigan Man this year. 

Section 1

June 29th, 2012 at 3:18 PM ^

Michigan Radio:

It was always hard for me to get a handle on Chappuis' specific greatness as a football player.  He was a "Halfback" in Crisler's Mad Magician offense.  He was seen as one of the game's great passers, from the halfback position.  Yet he lost a close Heisman trophy contest to Notre Dame Quarterback Johnny Lujack, who had similar numbers for running and passing numbers.  Backfield positions were a lot more fluid then, and there's never been another offense quite like Crisler's. 

Chappuis' Time magazine cover, as referenced by John: