George Cafego
No. 72, 23, 32, 11
Position:Fullback, quarterback, halfback
Personal information
Born:(1915-08-29)August 29, 1915
Whipple, West Virginia, U.S.
Died:February 9, 1998(1998-02-09) (aged 82)
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
Career information
High school:Oak Hill
(Oak Hill, West Virginia)
NFL Draft:1940 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Passing yards:966
Passer rating:37.7
Rushing yards:77
Rushing touchdowns:1
Receiving yards:133
Receiving touchdowns:0
Player stats at

George Cafego (/ˈkæfəɡ/ KAF-ə-goh; August 29, 1915 – February 9, 1998) was an American football player and coach of football and baseball. He played college football at the University of Tennessee, earning varsity letters 1937–1939, and professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Washington Redskins, and Boston Yanks. He served as the head baseball coach at the University of Wyoming in 1950 and at his alma mater, Tennessee, from 1958 to 1962. Cafego was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1969.


High school and collegiate career

Born in rural Whipple, West Virginia to John Cafego and Mary (Rednock) Cafego, Cafego attended Oak Hill High School in nearby Oak Hill. Cafego was able to finish high school because his brother, Tom Cafego, supported the family by playing professional baseball during the summers and mining coal the rest of the year.[1]

He went to the University of Tennessee as a halfback under coach Robert Neyland. While there, he earned varsity letters 1937 - 1939 and compiled 2,139 total yards and two All-American team selections. He was also a finalist for the Heisman Memorial Trophy. In addition to running and passing the ball, Cafego also served as punter and kickoff returner, excelling at both. At Tennessee his nickname was "Bad News".[2] As a sophomore, his first year on the varsity, he already showed signs of success, catching "many an expert eye."[3]

Professional career

Cafego was selected as the number one overall pick in the 1940 NFL draft by the Chicago Cardinals.[4] He eventually played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After playing one season, his career was interrupted by a brief stint of Army service in World War II era. During this time he appeared in several games for the Newport News Builders of the Dixie League. Returning to the Dodgers in 1943, he was traded to the Washington Redskins after five unspectacular games. For the 1944 and 1945 seasons, Cafego played for the Boston Yanks before retiring.

Coaching career

After his playing career was over, Cafego served as an assistant coach at Wyoming, Furman, Arkansas, and 30 years at his alma mater, Tennessee, serving under a total of six different head coaches during his UTK coaching career. He was also the head coach of Tennessee's baseball team from 1958 to 1962. He retired from coaching following the 1984 season.


His brother Tom Cafego played briefly in Major League Baseball, in 1937.


Cafego died in Knoxville, Tennessee, at the age of 82 and was buried in his native Fayette County in West Virginia.


  1. ^ Gammon, Wirt (February 18, 1939). "There's a Tom Cafego, Too". Chattanooga Daily Times. p. 8. Retrieved August 21, 2023.
  2. ^ "LIFE Goes to a Football Game to Watch Tennessee Trounce Alabama". LIFE. November 6, 1939. p. 102.
  3. ^ "All-American Team Selected". Washington C. H. Record-Herald. December 4, 1937. p. 9. Retrieved May 28, 2015 – via Open access icon
  4. ^ "1940 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved March 30, 2023.