Thursday, August 14, 2008

R.I.P. To A Football Pioneer

The following obituary appeared today in my local newspaper, the Quincy Herald-Whig. R.I.P. to the classiest guy ever to wear #4 for the Green Bay Packers.

August 14, 2005:
Herman Schneidman, a two-time member of the NFL champion Green Bay Packers in the 1930's and a longtime Quincy businessman and civic leader, died Tuesday in the Sunset Home. He was 95.

At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Schneidman made his mark in professional football as a blocking back, or the fore-runner to a fullback in today's game. He also played receiver, linebacker, and defensive back.

"There's a picture in the Pro Football Hall of Fame display for Clarke Hinkle showing him scoring a touchdown," said Aurie McGee of Quincy, Schneidman's nephew. "He later sent a thank-you note to Herm that said if it wasn't for his blocking he wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame."

After graduating from the University of Iowa, Mr. Schniedman joined the Packers in 1935 and in 1936 the team went 10-1 and defeated the Boston Redskins 21-6 in the NFL title game.

Two years later, the Packers lost to the New York Giants 23-17 in the championship game. IN 1939, Green Bay made history by recording the first shutout in a championship game by beating the Giants 27-0. Some NFL historians consider the 1939 team as one of the greatest in history.

After 1939, Mr. Schneidman briefly retired but returned to the Packers for the 1940 season. However, he was released before the season started and signed with the Chicago Cardinals so he could be closer to his home and business.

Mr. Schneidman retired for good after the 1940 season and joined the U.S. Navy, where he played on the Great Lakes Naval Station Team with the likes of baseball star Dom DiMaggio and future NFL Hall of Famer Otto Graham.

During his NFL career, Mr. Schneidman played in 46 games, rushing 13 times for 37 yards and catching 7 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns. He also had an interception.

"He was pretty matter-of-fact about his pro football career," McGee said. "He really didn't talk about it his career unless you asked. One time he was showing us a team picture and pointed at one of the guys and said 'That's Curly Lambeau.' Curly Lambeau! Can you believe it?"

In September 2006, Mr. Schneidman received a warm welcome when, as the oldest living Pakcer, he returned to Lambeau Field to take part in alumni festivities.

During the weekend, he was introduced to players from Green Bay's 1996 Super Bowl team. "A lot of the guys were asking 'Who is that?'" McGee recalled. "Once they found out he was the oldest living Packer, they all came over and shook his hand."

Mr. Schneidman, who wore jersey no. 4, even left a surprise for the most recognizable Packer to ever wear no. 4. He signed a hat at Brett Favre's restaurant and left if for the quarterback. Several weeks later, he received a personal thank-you note from Favre. "Everything was perfect. It was a perfect day," Mr. Schneidman said at the time.

Mr. Schneidman was born in Rock Island on Nov. 3, 1912, and moved with his family to Quincy when he was 6. He was a three-sport letterman (football, basketball, track) at Quincy High School from 1929-31, where he captained the basketball and football teams. He received the Watson Honor Cup and the school's sports award during his junior and senior years. Mr. Schneidman is a member of the QHS Sports Hall of Fame.

Mr. Schneidman received an honorable discharge from the Navy and returned to Quincy in 1945 and entered the family business, Schneidman Distributors, with his brother Ed, who was then mayor of Quincy. Mr. Schneidman was also involved in many civic groups giving his time, expertise and money to benefit Quincy and the surrounding area.

Visitation will be from 4 to 6p.m. Friday at Duker Haugh Funeral Home. Services will be held at 9:30a.m. Saturday at Duker and Haugh Funeral home followed by a funeral Mass at 10a.m. in Blessed Sacrament Church at 7th and Adams St. Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery with military honors conducted by American Legion Post No. 37.

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