Leon Hart
No. 82
Personal information
Born:(1928-11-02)November 2, 1928
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died:September 24, 2002(2002-09-24) (aged 73)
South Bend, Indiana, U.S.
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:257 lb (117 kg)
Career information
High school:Turtle Creek
(Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania)
College:Notre Dame (1946–1949)
NFL Draft:1950 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:2,499
Receiving touchdowns:26
Rushing yards:612
Rushing average:4.3
Rushing touchdowns:5
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Leon Joseph Hart (November 2, 1928 – September 24, 2002) was an American football end and fullback who played for eight seasons, from 1950 to 1957, with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award playing college football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 1949.

Hart is the only lineman to win three college football national championships and three NFL championships. He is the most recent of only two lineman ever to win the Heisman Trophy. Also, he is one of four players, along with Angelo Bertelli, Cam Newton, and Joe Burrow to win the Heisman Trophy, a national championship, and be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft all in the same one-year span.

Early years

Hart was born in Pittsburgh in 1928 raised in nearby Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, and attended Turtle Creek High School.[1] He won varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball while in high school.[2]

Notre Dame

Hart attended the University of Notre Dame where he played college football at the end position, both offense and defense, for Frank Leahy's Fighting Irish football teams from 1946 to 1949. He received first-team All-American honors three times, from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 1947 and as a consensus first-team selection in 1948 and 1949. During his four years at Notre Dame, Hart caught 49 passes for 701 yards and 15 touchdowns, at that time a collegiate record.[3] The Fighting Irish compiled a 46–0–2 record and won three national championships while Hart was a player.

Hart began playing for Notre Dame as a 17-year-old freshman in 1946.[2][4]

Hart was the captain of the 1949 Notre Dame team that compiled a perfect 10–0 record, outscored their opponents 360–86, and was recognized in the final AP Poll as the 1949 national champion. At the end of the 1949 season, Hart won both the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award. He was also voted as the Associated Press Athlete of the Year award with 104 points, edging professional baseball player Jackie Robinson (55 points).[5]

Hart graduated from Notre Dame in 1950 with a degree in mechanical engineering.[6]

Detroit Lions

Hart was selected by the Detroit Lions with the first overall pick in the 1950 NFL Draft.[1] He signed a three-year contract with the Lions in February 1950 for a salary reported to be close to $20,000.[3] He played for the Lions from 1950 to 1957, appeared in 92 games, and was a member of NFL championship teams in 1952, 1953, and 1957. During his eight-year NFL career, Hart gained 3,111 yards from scrimmage, caught 174 passes for 2,499 yards, and scored 32 touchdowns and 192 points.[1]

Family and later years

In February 1950, Hart married Lois Newyahr, his high school girlfriend, at St. Colman's Roman Catholic Church in Turtle Creek.[7] After retiring from football, he lived in Birmingham, Michigan. He operated a business that manufactured equipment to balance tires.[8]

Hart was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1973.[9] He died in 2002 at St. Joseph Medical Center in South Bend, Indiana, at age 73.[6] He was buried in the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Notre Dame, Indiana.


  1. ^ a b c "Leon Hart". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Turtle Creek's Leon Hart Making Good With Irish: 6-Foot-4, 225-Pound End Hits Stride In Notre Dame's Game With Pitt". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. November 7, 1946. p. 14.
  3. ^ a b Bob Latshaw (February 12, 1950). "Hart 'Happy' To Cast Lot With Lions as He Signs for 3 Seasons: McMillin To Keep Star at End; Yearly Salary Put at Near $20,000". Detroit Free Press.
  4. ^ Jack Hernon (December 3, 1946). "Leon Hart Makes Good With Irish: Turtle Creek Youth Praised by Druze, Team's End Coach". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 14.
  5. ^ "Hart Voted Year's Top Athlete". Detroit Free Press. January 15, 1950. p. 24.
  6. ^ a b Richard Golstein (September 25, 2002). "Leon Hart, 73, Massive End And Heisman Trophy Winner". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Leon Hart Weds Lois Newyahr". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. February 19, 1950. p. 12.
  8. ^ "Notre Dame's 1949 Heisman winner, Leon Hart, dies at 73". The Daily Chronicle (DeKalb, Illinois). September 25, 2002. p. 10.
  9. ^ "Hart, 10 Others Elected To College Hall of Fame". The Decatur (IL) Herald. February 25, 1973. p. 20.