Bodenger, Maury "Bodie" : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Bodenger, Maury "Bodie"

Morris Bodenger

Bodie was a terrific all-around athlete who played baseball, basketball, and wrestled in both high school and college. A very quick pulling guard, Bodie was a key lineman for the Tulane Green Wave before playing as an All-NFL guard in the early 1930s.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. July 31, 1909 - d. February 9, 1960

Career Highlights:
Bodenger played on some excellent Tulane teams in the late 1920s. In 1928, the Green Wave dominated their first two opponents, outscoring them 116-6. Although they cooled down a bit, losing three in a row, they still finished with a record of 7-4. The 1929 Tulane team went undefeated (9-0-0) and is considered one of the strongest in the school's history. That year, Bodenger was named AP All-America honorable mention, and All-Southern.

In 1930, Tulane lost to Northwestern in the second game of the season, thus ending their school record, 10-game winning streak. They won their next nine games, however, and finished with a record of 10-1. Bodie was named AP All-America honorable mention, and All-Southern second team.

After graduating in 1931, Bodie played for the Portsmouth Spartans, helping form the nucleus of some great teams. That year (1931), he played in 13 games and was named third team All-NFL as Portsmouth had a record of 11-3 and finished in second place to the Green Bay Packers (12-2).

1932, Bodie returned to the Spartans after abandoning a failed business in New Orleans. The "guard of great girth" was named to the official All-NFL second team that season. The season ended with the Chicago Bears holding a 6-1-6 record, considered equal to the Spartan's 6-1-4 record; tie games did not count in the standings. The NFL decided to hold a single game to determine the league champion.

The December 16, 1932 game was for the NFL Championship, but was just called a playoff game (the first NFL Championship Game would be held the following year); it was also an indoor game. Due to blizzard conditions in Chicago, the game was played indoors at the Chicago stadium where a circus had performed and just departed, leaving the floor covered with four inches of dirt. Officials, including Bobie Cahn, had to deal with strange new rules for the game.

The field was 80 yards long (60 from goal line to goal line), and each time a team crossed midfield, the ball was set back 20 yards to make the field 100 yards long. No field goals were allowed, kickoffs were initiated from the kicking team's 10-yard line, and punts that bounced around in the rafters (it happened twice) were considered touchbacks. The game remained scoreless until late in the fourth quarter, when the Bears scored on a controversial Bronco Nagurski pass for a touchdown. The final score of the game was 9-0, Bears.

Before the 1933 season, Bodie was a physical education instructor in a Jewish boy's camp, but he once again returned to the Spartans to be the leader on defense. The Spartans finished second in the NFL West with a record of 6-5-0. In 1934, they moved to Detroit and became the Lions although previous teams in Detroit had flopped. Even the great quarterback Benny Friedman (a University of Michigan alumnus) could not make football succeed there. Still, the Lions proved to be competitive in their first season. They finished with a record of 10-3-0, but once again finished second in the NFL West behind the Chicago Bears.

One tradition that began that season was Detroit's hosting of a Thanksgiving game. Although other teams had played on Thanksgiving in previous years, the Lions believed that a game against the Bears that day would generate interest in the the city. They lost that initial contest, 19-16, but are still in Detroit and still host Thanksgiving Day games today! Bodenger retired following the 1934 season, having played in 48 career NFL games.

After taking the 1935 season off, Bodenger returned to professional football in 1936 with the New York Yankees of the American Football League. During this time, many leagues tried to challenge the supremacy of the NFL and this AFL was considered a "major" league. It was started by Dr. Harry March (former Giants official) as a "player's league" but disbanded after only two seasons apparently due to poor attendance and finances. The Yankees finished the 1936 season with a record of 5-3-2 (3rd place); Bodie retired for good after the season. Two of his teammates on the Yankees were Henry Obst, and Charles Siegal.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Career Dates:
Bodenger played guard at Tulane University from 1928-1930. He then played guard in the NFL with the Portsmouth Spartans from 1931-1933, and with the Detroit Lions in 1934, when the franchise changed its name and location. He played in 1936 with the New York Yankees of the AFL.

Physical description:
5'11", 210 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NFL:
Games: 48
Interceptions: 1

Use links below to navigate through the football section of Jews In Sports.

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The Encyclopedia of Football, by Roger Treat (New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1976 -- 14th Edition)
Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League, edited by Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
Home and Away: The Rise and Fall of Professional Football on the Banks of the Ohio by Carl M. Becker (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1998)