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Sports Then and Now

Bulldog Turner: Two-Way Star

Posted on November 12, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Bulldog Turner

Bulldog Turner

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a two-way star for the dominant Chicago Bears teams of the 1940s.

Though Hardin-Simmons College in Abilene, Texas was not known as a football power, legendary head coach George Halas could find great players anywhere and chose Clyde “Bulldog” Turner with the seventh pick in the 1940 NFL Draft.

Turner immediately became a two-way star for the Bears, playing center on offense and linebacker on defense. Chicago went 8-3 in 1940 and reached the NFL Championship Game against the Washington Redskins.

In the most lopsided game in NFL Championship history, Turner returned an interception for a touchdown as the Bears defeated the Redskins 73-0.

The following season, Turner earned first team All-Pro honors for the first of seven times in his career as the Bears went 10-1 and then romped past the New York Giants 37-9 in the Championship Game.

In 1942 Turner led the NFL with eight interceptions as the Bears finished the regular season with a perfect 11-0 record. Unfortunately, the Bears were unable to complete the perfect season as they lost the NFL Championship to the Redskins 14-6.

Chicago avenged their championship loss the following season as they reached the championship game for the fourth straight year and defeated the Redskins 41-21.

As the center in a then-novel T formation directed by quarterback Sid Luckman, Turner used his 6-foot-2-inch, 232-pound frame to provide powerful blocking.

Turner showed his versatility in a 1944 game against the combined Cardinals-Steelers team. After the regular running backs were ejected following a fight, Turner took the only rushing attempt of his career 48 yards for a touchdown.

In 1947 Turner returned a Sammy Baugh pass 96 yards for a touchdown. Ironically, both Turner and Baugh had attended Sweetwater High School, though Baugh was two years ahead of Turner.

During his 13-year career, Turner played in six NFL Championship Games with the Bears winning four titles.

The two-way star was a seven time first team All-Pro selection and played in four Pro Bowls. He was a member of the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1940s.

After retiring following the 1952 season, Turner spent four seasons as an assistant coach for the Bears.

In 1962 he saw his only duty as a head coach and led the New York Titans to a 5-9 record.

Turner was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966. He passed away at the age of 79 in 1998.

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