- Frank Tripucka
Infobox Pro Football player
DateOfBirth=Birth date and age|1927|12|8|mf=y
Bloomfield, New Jersey, United States
NFLDraftedRound=1 / Pick 9
Retired #s=Denver Broncos #18
1953-1959 1959 1960-1963 1963
Philadelphia EaglesNFL Detroit Lions
NFL Dallas Texans
Ottawa Rough Riders
Francis (Frank) Joseph Tripucka ("The Trip") (born
December 8, 1927in Bloomfield, New Jersey) was an American football quarterbackat Notre Dame, in the National Football League, in the Canadian Football League, and in the early American Football League.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Tripucka was backup quarterback to
Heisman Trophywinner Johnny Lujackon Frank Leahy's unbeaten Notre Dame squads in 1946 and 1947. When Lujack graduated, Tripucka became the 1948 starter. He led the team to a 9-0-1 record, their only blemish being a 14-14 tie with USC in the last game of the season. Notre Dame finished #2 in the final polls and Tripucka was named an All American.
National Football League
When Tripucka graduated, the
Philadelphia Eaglesdrafted him with their #1 pick in the 1949 NFL Draft, but traded him to the Detroit Lionsbefore the 1949 season began. He started with the Lions in 1949, and then played the next three seasons with the Chicago Cardinals.
In 1953 he moved to
Canadato play with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The 'Riders had just hired Frank Filchockas coach, and Tripucka joined him as the starting quarterback. He played there through 1958, when he was traded to the Ottawa Rough Riders, but he was back in Saskatchewan before the end of the 1959 season as coach. The Roughriders were having a dismal season.
Non-Canadians playing Canadian professional football were known as "imports". In 1959 each
Canadian Football Leagueteam was limited to 12 imports. Coach Tripucka was ineligible to play because the Roughriders already had these 12 roster spots filled. However, in the fourteenth game of the season, all three Roughrider quarterbacks were sidelined by injuries. For the last two games, management decided to play Tripucka anyway.
Because of the ineligible player, these two games were forfeit in advance. The Roughriders lost the first of them on the scoreboard as well, 20-19 versus the
Edmonton Eskimos. In the last game of the season, versus Bud Grant's Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Tripucka had 17 completions in 29 passes and Ferdy Burketran for five touchdowns. At the end of the game the Roughriders led 37 to 30. The final, official score was Saskatchewan 37, Winnipeg 30 for a "Winnipeg" victory.
Tripucka played seven seasons in Canada.
American Football League
American Football Leaguewas founded in 1960, and Tripucka's old coach at Saskatchewan, Frank Filchock, was hired as the first coach of the new league's Denver Broncos. He brought Tripucka with him as an assistant coach. However the Broncos also had quarterback problems, and in preseason Filchock sent Tripucka in as a player. He became their first starting quarterback in the regular season and played with the team for four seasons. He was the first U.S. pro quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. He also threw the first touchdown pass in the history of the AFL. In 1962 he was named to the AFL All Star team.
Tripucka retired in 1963 after 15 pro seasons. The Broncos subsequently retired his uniform #18.
He is the father of Notre Dame basketball star and Detroit Piston
* [http://www.polishsportshof.com/bios/tripucka_f_complete.html Short biography] at the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
* [http://www.conigliofamily.com/Broncos.htm#FrankTripuckaCard Tripucka's 1960 Topps football card]
* [http://www.footballresearch.com/articles/frpage.cfm?topic=import13 "The Curious Case of the 13th Import"] , Professional Football Researchers Association
* [http://www.remembertheafl.com/AFLPlayers.htm Full roster of all American Football League players 1960 - 1969]
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