Sins of Omission

Ernie Nevers

George Nevers and Mary McKenna were married in 1881 in New Brunswick, Canada.  He was from an old Sunbury County family, but her parents were immigrants to neighboring York County from Ireland.  The Neverses would have eight children.  The first two were born in Canada, and the rest in either Minnesota or Wisconsin after the family immigrated to the United States in 1887.  The last of the Nevers children was Ernest Alonzo Nevers, who, in 1962, was named the greatest football player of all time by Sports Illustrated.

Ernie Nevers was born in Willow River, Minnesota, in 1902, but grew up in Superior, Wisconsin.  My father’s older brothers played football and baseball with him.  Many years later they told me he was simply the best football player they had ever seen.  At 6'1" and 205 pounds, he was a big running back for his era, bigger than many linemen.  Yet he was fast, agile, and explosive.  Moreover, he loved to hit, gave his all on every play, and had incredible stamina.  He usually played both offense and defense on every down.  He ran, passed, received, kicked, blocked, and tackled.

He left Superior Central High School after his junior year and moved with his family to Santa Rosa, California.  He led his new high school to a league championship, scoring 108 of the team’s 170 points, not including his touchdown passes.  (In...

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