Gordon, Lou : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Gordon, Lou

Louis James Gordon

Gordon was a terrific college and professional football player. He won a National Championship at the University of Illinois and an NFL Championship with the Green Bay Packers. Gordon, who played nine NFL seasons, received praise from the legendary Red Grange who called Gordon the best Jewish player developed by Illinois coach Robert Zuppke (Zuppke coached at Illinois for 29 years and led them to four national championships).

When asked about playing in the NFL with the Chicago Cardinals, Gordon said, "When Benny Friedman was with the Giants and was their great passer, I would break through and tackle him on occasion. I'd pick him up and tell him he might be the smartest Jewish football player, but I was the toughest."

Birth and Death Dates:
b. July 15, 1908 - d. April 4, 1976

Career Highlights:
The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Gordon arrived had an immediate impact when he made the Illinois varsity football squad. In 1927, Illinois entered the season with decent expectations, but no one thought the team would compete for the conference title. In the season finale against Ohio State, Gordon blocked a punt that proved to be a crucial play in the 13-0 Illini win. They finished the season with a record of 7-0-1, tied for first in the Big Ten and were considered National Champions. Red Grange called them 'the team of nobodies from nowhere' because of their unexpected run to the national crown.

In 1928, Illinois outscored their opponents 145-16 and finished the season with a record of 7-1-0, repeating as Big Ten co-champions (4-1-0), and Gordon was named All-Conference. In 1929, Illinois finished 6-1-1 and in second place in the Big Ten. Gordon was named Grantland Rice All-America honorable mention and AP All-Western Conference second team. In 1961, the Chicago Sun Times named Gordon to the All-Time Illinois Team from 1919-1961. He was also named by football historian Dr. L.H. Baker to the All-Time Illini Team.

After graduating in 1930, Gordon played nine seasons in the NFL for the Chicago Cardinals, Brooklyn Dodgers, Green Bay Packers, and Chicago Bears. A tough, hard-nosed player, he played with the Cardinals from 1930-1935, with a brief stop for the Dodgers.

Lou suffered through some very lean years early in his career with the Cardinals (with teammate Phil Handler) and Chicago finished no higher than third place. Gordon still managed to make an impact, and was named third team All-NFL (official) in 1931 and second team All-NFL (UP) in 1932. Meanwhile, the Cardinals had records of 2-12-0 (1931), 2-6-2 (1932), 1-9-1 (1933), and 4-6-0 (1934). Finally, they had a winning record in 1935 (6-4-2), but it was Gordon's final year with the club.

In 1936, Gordon moved to the Packers, who finished the season with a record of 10-1-1, first in the NFL West; Gordon played in every game that year. In the NFL Championship game, they defeated the Boston Redskins for the title. Gordon later said of that game: "Early in the game, I recovered a fumble...we went on to win the title, 21-6. Incidently, there were two other Jewish boys on the Packers team with me, Buckets Goldenberg and Herm Schneidman. The umpire of the game was 'Bobie' Cahn."

The following year, Lou was named second team All-NFL (UP) and the Packers finished second in the NFL West with a record of 7-4-0. In 1938, while playing for the Chicago Bears, Gordon suffered a knee injury in the second game of the year which ended his career; he had played in 83 career NFL games. He occasionally officiated pro games after his retirement.

Chicago, Illinois

Career Dates:
Gordon played tackle at the University of Illinois from 1927-1929. He played as a tackle, guard, defensive end, and occasional offensive end in the NFL with the Chicago Cardinals from 1930-1931 and 1932-1935, the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1931, the Green Bay Packers from 1936-1937, and the Chicago Bears in 1938.

Physical description:
6'3", 195 pounds (in college)
6'5", 250 pounds (professionally)

Career Statistics:
In the NFL:
Games: 83
Receptions: 1
Receiving yards: 8

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

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Zuppke of Illinois by Red Grange (Chicago: A.L. Glaser Inc., 1937)
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)