10 Surprising Pop Warner Players


5

Jim Thorpe

A circa 1925 shot of athlete Jim Thorpe wearing a Canton Bulldogs football jersey.
A circa 1925 shot of athlete Jim Thorpe wearing a Canton Bulldogs football jersey.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Native American Jim Thorpe (1887-1953) was arguably one of the greatest all-around athletes of the 20th century. Born into a farm family in Prague, Okla., he exhibited a range of skills in a variety of sports, including football. In fact, Pop Warner, who coached Thorpe during his Carlisle College days, was one of the first to recognize his rare talents. Thorpe went on to compete in the 1912 Olympics, where he won two gold medals in track and field events, which were later rescinded because he'd jeopardized his amateur status by previously playing semi-professional baseball (The medals were returned posthumously in the 1980s). Thorpe also played as a member of six different professional football teams. And, like Warner, Thorpe's influence changed the course of football. He was instrumental in forming the American Professional Football Association, which later became the NFL.