The first former NFL player to celebrate his 100th birthday (on August 3, 1996), Ralph was a member of Harvard's Rose Bowl champion team in 1920 and the older brother of Arnold Horween, who also starred at Harvard and played in the backfield with the NFL Cardinals.
When his playing days were over, Ralph became a lawyer, raised cattle, and focused on a career as a businessman, helping to run Horween Leather, which supplied the leather for Wilson's NFL official football. The company remains in the family and is run by Arnold Horween's son and grandson (Arnold Jr. and Arnold III).
Birth and Death Dates:
b. August 3, 1896 - d. May 27, 1997
An exceptional punter and dropkicker, Ralph entered Harvard in 1914 and played freshman football. The following year, he played on the varsity and the Crimson compiled a record of 8-1-0. In 1916, he was named Walter Camp All-America honorable mention at fullback and New York Times All-East honorable mention. That season, Horween kicked a 35-yard field goal to beat previously undefeated Princeton, 3-0; Harvard finished the season with a record of 7-3-0.
After enlisting in the Navy in 1917, Horween returned to Harvard in 1919. That season, Horween was named New York Times All-East honorable mention and teamed with his brother Arnold to lead the Crimson to a 9-0-1 record, outscoring their opponents 229-19. Harvard was considered national champions that year and defeated Oregon, 7-6, in the Rose Bowl. In the Rose Bowl, Ralph's attempted drop-kick field goal from the Oregon 45-yard line was blocked and rolled free.
Ralph said, "It was the first and only time I had a blocked kick...that goes for about 45 or 50 punts and about 10 or 15 drop-kicks. The ball kept rolling toward the sideline. There was a scramble near the grandstand, where Jack Dempsey was sitting, and I hurt my shoulder and passed out." Horween sustained a chipped collarbone and dislocated shoulder, but his replacement scored Harvard's touchdown and Arnold Horween kicked the extra point to give the Crimson a 7-6 victory.
In 1921, Ralph joined Arnold with the Racine Cardinals of the American Professional Football Association. The brothers played under the name "McMahon" in order to protect their family's social status (and to keep their mother from knowing they were playing); it indicates the disdain which some people looked upon the sport in the 1920s. The following year, the team became the "Chicago Cardinals" and the league changed its name to the National Football League. That season, the Cardinals had a record of 8-3-0 and finished in third place.
In 1923, Arnold became head coach of the Cardinals and Ralph joined him as an assistant; both Horweens continued to play as well. Ralph played in 11 games that year and the team finished with a record of 8-4-0, sixth in the league. He retired following the 1923 season, having played 22 career games in the NFL.
Ralph played fullback at Harvard University from 1914-1916, and again in 1919. He played as a back in the NFL for the Chicago Cardinals from 1921-1923.
5'10", 200 pounds
In the NFL:
Rushing touchdowns: 2
Field goal: 4
Extra points: 2