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Mel Hein

Mel Hein

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Melvin Jack Hein was an American Professional Football
Professional football
In the United States and Canada, the term professional football includes the professional forms of American and Canadian gridiron football. In common usage, it refers to former and existing major football leagues in either country...

 player for the New York Giants
New York Giants
The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, representing the New York City metropolitan area. The Giants are currently members of the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

. Hein played fifteen seasons for the Giants (1931-45) and never missed a down due to injury. He is the first player and only offensive lineman to win the NFL MVP award
NFL Most Valuable Player Award
The National Football League Most Valuable Player Award is given by various entities, most notably the Associated Press , to the player who is considered most valuable in the league. When the award is referred to without mentioning the organization, it generally means the AP award. The AP NFL MVP...

 (1938
1938 NFL season
The 1938 NFL season was the 19th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended when the New York Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game.-Major rule changes:...

) and he helped the Giants win the championship that season.

Mel was part of the first inductee class into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 1963. In 1969, he was named the center on the NFL 50th Anniversary Team, and was named to the 75th Anniversary Team in 1994. In 1999, despite 55 years having passed since his last game, he was ranked number 74 on The Sporting News
The Sporting News
Sporting News is an American-based sports magazine. It was established in 1886, and it became the dominant American publication covering baseball — so much so that it acquired the nickname "The Bible of Baseball"...

 list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

Early life


Hein played prep football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

 for the Burlington High School Tigers (now Burlington-Edison High School
Burlington-Edison High School
Burlington-Edison High School is a public secondary school in Burlington, Washington. It serves students in grades 9-12 in the Burlington-Edison School District, including the communities of Burlington, Bow, Edison, and Alger. The current administration is made up of principal Beth VanderVeen, and...

) in Burlington, Washington
Burlington, Washington
Burlington is a city in Skagit County, Washington, United States. The population is 8,388 as recorded by the 2010 census. It is included in the Mount Vernon–Anacortes, Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

, where he played center and defensive line positions. His senior year Hein earned the Skagit County Football MVP, the highest award for a prep player in the Skagit Valley
Skagit Valley
The Skagit Valley lies in the northwestern corner of the state of Washington, USA. Its defining feature is the Skagit River, which snakes through local communities which include the seat of Skagit County, Mount Vernon, as well as Sedro-Woolley, Concrete, Lyman-Hamilton, and Burlington.The local...

 in those days. He was also named to the First Team All-State football team as a senior. It has been said he is the first professional athlete to hail from the state of Washington. Hein is known for wearing jersey number 7, but it is not known what jersey number he wore during his high school years as prep teams might not have worn numbers in those days. Hein is also a charter member of the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA). He also excelled as a basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 player in his prep days with the Tigers, playing center
Center (basketball)
The center, colloquially known as the five or the post, is one of the standard positions in a regulation basketball game. The center is normally the tallest player on the team, and often has a great deal of strength and body mass as well...

 on the court
Basketball court
In basketball, the basketball court is the playing surface, consisting of a rectangular floor with tiles at either end. In professional or organized basketball, especially when played indoors, it is usually made out of a wood, often maple, and highly polished...

, as well.

College career


A consensus pick as the greatest center in football, Hein was the first player to have his famous No. 7 retired at Washington State University
Washington State University
Washington State University is a public research university based in Pullman, Washington, in the Palouse region of the Pacific Northwest. Founded in 1890, WSU is the state's original and largest land-grant university...

. An All-American pick following the 1930 season, Hein helped lead the Cougars to an undefeated record that year and into the 1931 Rose Bowl
Rose Bowl Game
The Rose Bowl is an annual American college football bowl game, usually played on January 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. When New Year's Day falls on a Sunday, the game is played on Monday, January 2...

 game against Alabama. WSU
Washington State Cougars football
The Washington State Cougars football team is the intercollegiate football team of Washington State University. The team is a member of the Pacific-12 Conference...

 lost that game 24-0, but WSU's record in Hein's three varsity seasons was 26-6. Hein was an All-America selection as a senior (1930) and was an All-West Coast pick after having been named to the All-Coast second team as a junior. At WSU, he also played center during his junior year on the Cougar basketball team.

Pro career


He signed a contract with the New York Giants
New York Giants
The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, representing the New York City metropolitan area. The Giants are currently members of the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

, married his college sweetheart, and packed all of their belongings into a broken down car and drove from Pullman
Pullman, Washington
Pullman is the largest city in Whitman County, Washington, United States. The population was 24,675 at the 2000 census and 29,799 according to the 2010 census...

  to New York. He played for 15 years as a center and a defensive lineman. Hein was an All-NFL Center 1933-1940. He was inducted as a charter member into the National Football League Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, in the summer of 1963. He was also inducted as a charter member into the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978, and was the first alumni athlete inducted into the new Burlington-Edison High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006. Add to all of these, his membership into the Washington State Sports Hall of Fame and the Inland Empire Sports Hall of Fame. His jersey number 7 retired by both his college team, the WSU Cougars of the Pac-10 Conference and by the New York Giants
New York Giants
The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, representing the New York City metropolitan area. The Giants are currently members of the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

.

Eight times an All-Pro center, Hein was the NFL's MVP in 1938 - as a center in his eighth year in the league. The Giants' great No. 7 was the center of two NFL Championship teams - in 1934
NFL Championship Game, 1934
The 1934 National Football League Championship Game, also known as The Sneakers Game, was played at the Polo Grounds in New York City on December 9, 1934. The final score was New York Giants 30, Chicago Bears 13. It was the 2nd annual NFL championship game.A freezing rain the night before the game...

 (NYG 30, Chicago 13) and again in 1938 (NYG 23, Green Bay 17). Hein was a member of five losing teams in the NFL Championship, — 1933
NFL Championship Game, 1933
The 1933 National Football League Championship game was held on December 17, 1933 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The attendance was estimated at 26,000. This was the first scheduled championship game since the NFL's founding in 1920...

, 1935
NFL Championship Game, 1935
The 1935 National Football League Championship game was held on December 15, 1935 at University of Detroit Stadium in Detroit. It was the 3rd annual title game for the NFL...

, 1939
NFL Championship Game, 1939
The 1939 National Football League Championship game was held on December 10, 1939 at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was the seventh NFL championship game played...

, 1941
NFL Championship Game, 1941
The 1941 National Football League Championship game was the 9th annual championship game and was held December 21, 1941 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The game was played two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The attendance was 13,341, the smallest ever to see an NFL title game...

, and 1944
NFL Championship Game, 1944
The 1944 National Football League Championship Game was the 12th NFL title game. The game was played on December 17, 1944 at New York's Polo Grounds. The attendance for the game was 46,016. The game featured the Green Bay Packers , champions of the Western Division versus the Eastern Division...

.

After his retirement


Beyond his playing days, Hein coached
Coach (sport)
In sports, a coach is an individual involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a sports team or of individual sportspeople.-Staff:...

 for four years, both as a head coach
Head coach
A head coach, senior coach or manager is a professional at training and developing athletes. They typically hold a more public profile and are paid more than other coaches...

 and as an assistant. He coached at the University of Southern California
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...

 during the 1950s.

From 1966-67, he was the supervisor of officials for the American Football League
American Football League
The American Football League was a major American Professional Football league that operated from 1960 until 1969, when the established National Football League merged with it. The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence...

.

In 1969, Hein was voted one of the 11 all-time best professional and collegiate football players in a vote conducted in conjunction with professional football's Centennial celebration.

The Washington State University Board of Regents honored Hein May 14, 1983, with its Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest award bestowed a Cougar alum. Hein is also a charter member of The College Hall of Fame, one of two WSU Cougars honored by the National Football Foundation.

In 1999, he was one of three centers named to The Sporting News All-Century team for college players.

See also

  • History of the New York Giants (1925–1978)
    History of the New York Giants (1925–1978)
    The history of the New York Giants from 1925 to 1978 covers the American football franchise from the team's inception until the conclusion of their tumultuous 1978 season. Currently members of the NFL's National Football Conference, the Giants were founded in 1925 by original owner Tim Mara in the...

  • List of American Football League officials

External links