Bill Osmanski
refer to caption
Osmanski (far left) and his brother Joe (center) with George Halas (center left), and fellow brothers Harold and Raymond Schumacher
No. 9
Position:Fullback
Personal information
Born:(1915-12-29)December 29, 1915
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Died:December 25, 1996(1996-12-25) (aged 80)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:197 lb (89 kg)
Career information
High school:Providence (RI) Central
College:Holy Cross
NFL Draft:1939 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

William Thomas Osmanski (December 29, 1915 – December 25, 1996), nicknamed "Bullet" Bill, was an American football player and coach. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1973 and in 1977 he was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.

College of the Holy Cross

After graduating from Central High School in Providence, Osmanski attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He played fullback for the Crusaders from 1936 to 1938. These three seasons were some of the most successful in Holy Cross' football history with the record of 23–3–3. "Bullet Bill" was named an All-American in 1938. He was named the Most Valuable Player at the College All-Star Game in 1939. His jersey number, 25, was retired by Holy Cross.

Chicago Bears

Osmanski was drafted in the first round with the sixth overall pick of the 1939 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. The pick paid immediate dividends for the Bears as Osmanski led the National Football League in rushing in 1939 with 699 yards. The Bears also selected Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman in the first round, forming the backbone of the Bears' great 1940s teams, which won championships in 1940, 1941, 1943, and 1946.[1]

With a 68-yard run, Osmanski scored the first touchdown of Chicago's 73–0 victory over the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship Game. He rushed for 109 yards in what remains the most one-sided championship game in the league's history.[1]

Military career

In October 1943, Osmanski and some of his Bears teammates announced they would be joining the United States Navy.[2] A dentist who was regularly attached to divisions in the United States Marine Corps, he worked as the head football coach at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in 1944.[3]

With the 1st Marine Division, he served in the battles of Guam, Guadalcanal, and Okinawa.[4] In March 1945, he received a citation from the Marine Corps when he rescued a Navy doctor from quicksand while they were searching for bananas.[5]

After World War II ended, Osmanski was attached to the 2nd Marine Division serving as the occupying force in Nagasaki, Japan.[6] On January 1, 1946, he captained the Isahaya Tigers in the Atom Bowl against Heisman Trophy winner Angelo Bertelli's Nagasaki Bears; after trailing 13–0 at halftime, Osmanski scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Although the two had promised to end the game in a tie to ensure troop morale remain high, Osmanski kicked the game-winning extra point in the 14–13 Tiger victory; when Bertelli confronted him, Osmanski apologized and remarked, "It was an act of God! [...] Either that, or force of habit."[7]

Return to Chicago

Osmanski returned to the Bears in 1946, where he was joined by younger brother Joe in the backfield.[8] The brothers and the Bears won the 1946 NFL Championship Game, Osmanski's fourth NFL title.[1]

He retired in 1947.

After retirement

After his retirement from the professional game, Osmanski became the head coach at his alma mater, Holy Cross. He coached the Crusaders for two seasons, 1948 and 1949, going 6–14.

During his playing years with the Bears, Osmanski attended dental school at Northwestern University. Following his coaching years, Osmanski opened a practice in Chicago. He also assisted in developing football mouthguards, and was the president of the Illinois Dental Society.[1]

He died in Chicago on Christmas Day, 1996.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Holy Cross Crusaders (Independent) (1948–1949)
1948 Holy Cross 5–5
1949 Holy Cross 1–9
Holy Cross: 6–14
Total: 6–14

References

  1. ^ a b c d Larkin, Will (June 21, 2019). "Ranking the 100 best Bears players ever: No. 77, Bill Osmanski". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  2. ^ "Bill Osmanski Lost To Bears; Goes To Navy". The Daily Record. AP. October 16, 1943. Retrieved January 26, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Bill Osmanski to Coach Camp Lejeune Marines". Chicago Tribune. AP. September 19, 1944. Retrieved January 26, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ Birtwell, Roger (January 9, 1948). "Osmanski Passed Up 3 Other Bids on Hunch H.C. Would Call". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 26, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Fitzpatrick, Ray (March 6, 1945). "Bill Osmanski Gets Citation For Saving Pal". The Journal Standard. Retrieved January 26, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Play Atomic Bowl Grid Game Jan. 1". Mansfield News Journal. UP. December 29, 1945. Retrieved January 26, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Flaherty, Vincent X. (April 4, 1946). "Bertelli Tells One on Osmanski". Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph. Retrieved January 26, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Osmanskis Signed by Chicago Bears". Winona Daily News. AP. July 30, 1946. Retrieved January 26, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.