April 20, 2012

MVP Profile: Sid Luckman, 1943


Quarterback/Defensive Back, Chicago Bears



Age:  27 (Nov. 21)
5th season in pro football & with Bears
College: Columbia
Height: 6’0”    Weight: 195

Prelude:
The Bears traded up to the second spot in the 1939 NFL draft to take Luckman, who had been a star single-wing tailback in college. Following a difficult rookie season of transitioning to T-formation quarterback (he played at halfback for part of the year), he led the Bears to championships in 1940 and ’41 and was an All-Pro selection in 1941 and ’42. Luckman was intelligent and an excellent tactician on the field as well as an outstanding passer from any range.

1943 Season Summary
Appeared in all 10 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 202 [2]
Completions – 110 [2]
Yards – 2194 [1]
Completion percentage – 54.5 [2]
Yards per attempt – 10.9 [1]
TD passes – 28 [1]
Most TD passes, game – 7 at NY Giants 11/14
Interceptions – 12 [5, tied with Tony Canadeo]
Passer rating – 107.5 [1](Ranked 2nd by system used at time)

Rushing
Attempts – 22
Yards – -40
Yards per attempt – -1.8
TDs – 1

Punting
Punts – 34 [5]
Yards – 1220
Average – 35.9 [9]
Punts blocked – 1
Longest punt – 78 yards

Interceptions
Interceptions – 4 [10, tied with four others]
Return yards – 85 [7]
TDs – 0

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 1   
Yards – 7
Average per return – 7.0
TDs – 0

Punt Returns
Returns – 4   
Yards – 46
Average per return – 11.5
TDs – 0
Longest return – 14 yards

Scoring
TDs – 1         
Points – 6

Postseason: 1 G (NFL Championship vs. Washington)
Pass attempts – 26
Pass completions – 15
Passing yardage – 286
TD passes – 5
Interceptions – 0

Rushing attempts – 8
Rushing yards – 64
Average gain rushing – 8.0
Rushing TDs – 0

Interceptions – 2
Return yards – 39
TDs – 0

Punts – 5
Yards – 74
Average – 24.7

Punt returns – 2
Yards – 32
Average per return – 16.0
TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: Joe F. Carr Trophy
1st team All-NFL: AP, UPI, INS, Chicago Herald-American, Pro Football Illustrated, NY Daily News

Bears went 8-1-1 to win Western Division while leading the league in total yards (3961), passing yards (2310), scoring (315 points), and touchdowns (45). Defeated Washington Redskins (41-21) for NFL Championship.

Aftermath:
Having joined the Merchant Marine, Luckman missed part of the 1944 season but was still selected as a consensus first-team All-Pro for the fourth straight year. He came back to lead the NFL in passing yards (1727) and TD passes (14) in ’45 and did so again in 1946 with 1826 yards and 17 touchdowns along with a league-leading 8.0 yards per attempt. The Bears won the NFL Championship, their fourth with Luckman at quarterback. He was a first-team All-Pro for one last time in 1947 as he threw for a career-high 2712 yards and again led the league in yards per attempt (8.4) although he also led in interceptions (31, by far his career high). He played three more seasons, largely as a backup to Johnny Lujack, and retired in 1950. Overall, his passing totals of 14,686 yards and 137 TD passes seem modest by modern standards, but his 8.4 yards per attempt still rank second all-time and his record of 28 TD passes in ’43 remained the NFL standard until 1959. The Bears retired Luckman’s #42 and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1965.

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MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). 

[Updated 2/9/14]