Saturday, April 11, 2015

To Absent Friends - Ray Graves

Yesterday came news of the death of Ray Graves at the age of 96.

Graves is best remembered as the head football coach at the University of Florida from 1960-69.  Under Graves, the Gators won 70 games, played in their first ever major bowl game, and finished in the Top 20 four times.  Graves also recruited and coached Steve Spurrier at Florida, and helped to develop the sports drink Gatorade.

Quite a resume.

Graves also played in the NFL and was a member of the 1943 merged team that is officially known in NFL annals as "Philadelphia-Pittsburgh" or "Phil-Pitt" but has come to be known unofficially as the "Steagles".  The story of wartime professional football and the merged Phil-Pitt Steagles has been told in a most entertaining book, "Last Team Standing" by Matthew Algeo.

(Amazingly enough, with their penchant for copyrighting and trademarking everything that they touch, the NFL has never officially acknowledged, copyrighted, or licensed the name "Steagles".  Think of all the hoodies that they could sell at seventy bucks a pop.)

With the death of Graves, only one Steagle remains alive, ninety-four year old Al Wistert.

Thanks to Matthew Algeo for tipping me off about Coach Graves' passing.

RIP Ray Graves.

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