Karnofsky, Abe : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Karnofsky, Abe

Abraham Sonny Karnofsky

Karnofsky was a member of the University of Arizona's freshman football team when World War II broke out, and he joined the U.S. Coast Guard following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After a medical discharge from the Coast Guard, Abe joined the Merchant Marines, then returned to Arizona at the war's end.

It was in Phoenix in 1945 that he ran into a high school teammate who got Karnofsky a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles. Abe made the team, but was traded to the Boston Yanks the following year. In later years, Karnofsky was told he was traded because he was Jewish, although he never received any definitive confirmation.

After playing two years in the NFL, Karnofsky went to Sacramento, California, to work in a truck wrecking yard. After meeting his wife, Abe worked in his father-in-law's pipe and steel company before buying out his brother-in-law. His son, Harlan Karnofsky (who played football at the University of Utah), currently runs the company.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. September 22, 1922

Career Highlights:
After playing only three games of freshman football at Arizona, Karnofsky spent two seasons in the NFL. In 1945, he played for the Philadelphia Eagles, who finished the season second in the Eastern Division with a record of 7-3 and led the league in scoring (272 points). In 1946, Karnofsky played for the 2-8-1 Boston Yanks who finished last in the NFL East, but Abe himself was a bright spot, leading the NFL in kickoff returns (21), kickoff returns yards (599), and kickoff return average (28.5). He also returned one kickoff for a 97-yard touchdown! Abe retired following the 1946 season after playing in 19 career NFL games.

Oxnard, California

Career Dates:
Karnofsky played in the NFL as a halfback and defensive back with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1945 and for the Boston Yanks in 1946.

Physical description:
5'10", 175 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NFL:
Games: 19

Rushes: 77
Rushing yards: 218
Rushing average: 2.8
Rushing touchdowns: 3

Receptions: 13
Receiving yards: 252
Receiving average: 19.4
Receiving touchdowns: 1

Interceptions: 1
Interception return yards: 27

Punt returns: 9
Punt return yards: 141
Punt return average: 15.7

Kick returns: 27
Kick return yards: 763
Kick return average: 28.3
Kick returns for touchdowns: 1

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Thank you to Harlan Karnofsky for the information on his father

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)