Smukler, 'Dynamite' Dave : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Smukler, 'Dynamite' Dave

David Smukler

A 230-pound fullback, Smukler was considered one of the greatest college players of the 1930s. In 1934, Dave led his Temple University team to an undefeated season. His coach at Temple, the legendary Pop Warner once called him, "as great a fullback as Jim Thorpe and Ernie Nevers." Smukler later played in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles.

On October 22, 1939, Smukler was a member of the Eagles when the team made history in professional football's first televised game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The game was played in Brooklyn's Ebbets Field before 13,000 people. The day before, 70,000 spectators had filled Yankee Stadium for a college game, but TV was going to change that pattern. As far as anyone can tell, none of the players knew the game was being broadcast to the approximate 1,000 TV sets in New York City. Brooklyn, with Jewish players Ed Merlin and Leo Disend, defeated the Eagles 23-14.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. April 28, 1914 - d. February 22, 1971

Career Highlights:
In 1934, Smukler was one of the best players in the country, scoring 42 points for Temple during the season: four touchdowns, one field goal, and 15 extra points (the second most in the East). He was named AP All-America third team, Grantland Rice All-America honorable mention, and AP All-East honorable mention. That year, he led the Temple Owls to an undefeated season (7-0-2) and an appearance in the first-ever Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day, 1935. The organizers decided on a North-South theme for their new invention and picked Temple, coached by Pop Warner, and led by their star, Smukler.

In the first quarter, Smukler passed for the first touchdown in Sugar Bowl history and then kicked the extra point. In the second quarter he ran for another touchdown, adding the extra point again, to give the Owls a 14-0 lead. Tulane recovered, however, to win the game, 20-14, behind Barney Mintz's third quarter-game winning touchdown pass.

Despite the loss, Smukler's performance was noted by Charles Dufour of the New Orleans Item who wrote, "'Dynamite Dave...was everything he was billed to be. He was a wild bull, a mad elephant, a rip-roaring locomotive, a human battering ram...who asked nothing more of his own line but that they get out of the way and let him run...In a word, Mr. Smukler was great." The following year, Smukler was sidelined by a leg injury but was still was named AP All-East honorable mention as he scored four touchdowns and added five extra points. Temple finished the season with a record of 7-3-0.

In 1936, 'Dynamite Dave' turned professional and played for the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL. His rookie year, he earned one of the highest salaries in the league and impressed all who saw him. After going pro, the New York Times wrote, "He looks more like Bronco Nagurski every time out." That year, Dave played in ten games and had a career-high 99 rushes for 321 yards, and the Eagles finished 1-11-0, fifth in the NFL East. The following year, the Eagles again finished last in the NFL East with a record of 2-8-1.

The team slightly improved over the following year, compiling a record of 5-6-1 (fourth in the NFL East) in 1938, but then posted a pathetic record of 1-9-1 in 1939. After playing with the Detroit Lions (5-5-1) in 1940, Smukler retired. He returned to the NFL in 1944 and played four games with the Boston Yanks (2-8-0). He then retired for good, having played in 38 career NFL games.

Newark, New Jersey

Career Dates:
Smukler played fullback at Temple University from 1934-1935. He then played as a fullback and linebacker in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1936-1939, with the Detroit Lions in 1940, and for the Boston Yanks in 1944.

Physical description:
6'1", 220 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NFL:
Games: 38

Passes completed: 112
Passes attempted: 308
Passing percentage: 36.4
Passing yards: 1,357
Passing touchdowns: 15
Interceptions thrown: 32

Rushes: 334
Rushing yards: 1,106
Rushing average: 3.3
Rushing touchdowns: 2

Receptions: 1
Receiving yards: 4 yards

Kick returns for touchdowns: 1

Punts: 12
Punt yards: 532
Punt average: 44.3

Field goals made: 2
Field goals attempted: 2
Extra points made: 16
Extra points attempted: 16

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)
New York Times, November 26, 1934
New York Times, December 2, 1935