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Joe Stydahar


Athlete Joseph Lee Stydahar (March 17, 1912-March 23, 1977) was the first West Virginia University graduate elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He began his career in the early years of professional football and was a member of one of its most storied teams, the Chicago Bears’ famed ‘‘Monsters of the Midway.’’

Stydahar was born in Kaylor, Pennsylvania. He moved with his family to Harrison County and graduated from Shinnston High School. After briefly attending the University of Pittsburgh, Stydahar came to WVU, where he was a star in football and basketball.

He was the first-round selection of the Bears in the first pro draft of college players in 1936. A starter as a rookie, he was named to the All-National Football League team each year from 1937 to 1940. Early in his career, Stydahar often played without a helmet, one of the last professional players to do so. Like most players of that era, he would sometimes play all 60 minutes of a game. His teams won championships in 1940 and 1941. Stydahar joined the navy in 1943 and served through the end of World War II. The Bears won another championship in 1946, his final season.

In 1950, Stydahar was named head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, and his team won the NFL championship in 1951. He also coached the Chicago Cardinals, an NFL team. Stydahar was a charter member of WVU’s athletic hall of fame. Sports Illustrated named him the 10th-most prominent West Virginia sports figure of the 20th century.

Written by Greg Moore


  1. Halas, George Stanley. Halas. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979.