Elroy Hirsch was a football legend who played for the Wisconsin Badgers, the Michigan Wolverines, and the Los Angeles Rams. He was also a successful athletic director for the University of Wisconsin for 18 years. He was known for his nickname “Crazylegs”, which he earned for his unusual running style. But how did he die and what was the cause of his death?
Early Life and Football Career
Elroy Hirsch was born on June 17, 1923, in Wausau, Wisconsin. He was adopted by Otto and Mayme Hirsch, who were of German-Norwegian descent. He excelled in football, baseball, and basketball in high school. He enrolled at the University of Wisconsin in 1941 and played as a halfback for the Badgers. He was a star player who helped the team achieve a No. 3 ranking in the final AP Poll in 1942.
Due to World War II, Hirsch joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943 and was transferred to the University of Michigan, where he continued his football career. He played as a halfback and an end for the Wolverines, and also helped them reach a No. 3 ranking in the final AP Poll in 1943. He received the nickname “Crazylegs” from a sportswriter who described his running style as “his crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions all at the same time”.
After the war, Hirsch turned pro and played for the Chicago Rockets of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) from 1946 to 1948. He then joined the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL) in 1949 and played as an end and a flanker until 1957. He was one of the most dominant receivers in the league, leading the NFL in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and scoring in 1951. He helped the Rams win the NFL championship in 1951 and was selected to three Pro Bowls. He was also named to the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team, the NFL 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, and the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. He retired with 387 receptions, 7,029 receiving yards, and 60 receiving touchdowns.
Post-Football Career and Legacy
Hirsch had a brief career as a movie actor in the 1950s, appearing in films like Crazylegs, Unchained, and Zero Hour!. He also worked as a radio and TV broadcaster for the Rams. In 1960, he became the general manager of the Rams and held the position until 1969. He then returned to his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, as the athletic director in 1969. He served in that role until 1987, overseeing the growth and success of the Badger sports programs. He was instrumental in hiring coaches like Barry Alvarez, Bo Ryan, and Pat Richter.
Hirsch was also a philanthropist and a supporter of various causes, such as the Crazylegs Run, an annual fund-raiser for the Wisconsin athletics department. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1974. He also had his jersey number 40 retired by the Badgers and was honored with the St. Louis Football Ring of Fame.
He was 80 years old. He is survived by his wife, Ruth, and two children. He was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison.
Elroy Hirsch was a football legend who excelled at every level of the game. He was also a respected leader and a generous benefactor for the University of Wisconsin. He died of natural causes, but left behind a legacy of excellence and inspiration.