Ed Sprinkle

American football player (1923–2014)

American football player
Ed Sprinkle
refer to caption
Sprinkle with the Bears
No. 7
Position:Defensive end
Personal information
Born:(1923-09-03)September 3, 1923
Bradshaw, Texas, U.S.
Died:July 28, 2014(2014-07-28) (aged 90)
Palos Heights, Illinois, U.S.
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:206 lb (93 kg)
Career information
High school:Tuscola
(Tuscola, Texas)
Career history
  • Chicago Bears (1944–1955)
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Interception yards:55
Fumble recoveries:12
Defensive touchdowns:3
Receiving yards:451
Receiving touchdowns:7
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR
Pro Football Hall of Fame

Edward Alexander Sprinkle (September 3, 1923 – July 28, 2014) was an American football defensive end and end who played for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL). He was known to many as "the Meanest Man in Pro Football" and was nicknamed "the Claw". He played for 12 seasons with the Bears and is credited with calling attention to the NFL's defensive players.

College career

Prior to his NFL career, Sprinkle won three letters in football and two in basketball and earned All-Border Conference while at Hardin–Simmons University in the early 1940s. Hardin-Simmons dropped its sports program due to World War II, causing Sprinkle to transfer to the United States Naval Academy for his senior season in 1943, where he earned All-Eastern honors.

Playing career

After leaving college, Sprinkle was signed by George Halas' Chicago Bears in 1944. At first, he played on both defense and offense; he caught 32 passes for 451 yards and seven touchdowns during his career. His ability to rush opposing quarterbacks, however, soon made him a defensive specialist.

Sprinkle quickly developed a reputation for his aggressive playing style; in the 1946 NFL Championship Game, New York Giants George Franck, Frank Reagan, and Frank Filchock left with injuries sustained in hits from Sprinkle. One of Sprinkle's tackling strategies, a clothesline tackle with his forearm, led to him receiving the nickname "The Claw" from Collier's Weekly.[1]

While accused of "dirty play" and unsportsmanlike conduct during his career, leading to calls in 1949 from coaches Greasy Neale and Buddy Parker for the NFL to discipline him,[2][3] he defended his play as not being any different from other players of the era. According to Sprinkle, "We were meaner in the 1950s because there were fewer positions and we fought harder for them. It was a different era."[4] He was praised by Halas "the greatest pass-rusher I've ever seen,"[1][5] while Giants quarterback Y. A. Tittle remarked in 1969 that "quarterbacks would look with only one eye for receivers. They kept the other eye on Sprinkle."[6]

Post-playing career

Following his pro career, Sprinkle entered business in the Chicago area. He died on July 28, 2014.[7][8]

The Professional Football Researchers Association named Sprinkle to the PFRA Hall of Very Good Class of 2007.[9] Sprinkle was also inducted in the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.

On January 15, 2020, Sprinkle was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020.[10]

Sprinkle was also an avid golfer. He had a handicap of 18 at the Midlothian Country Club.


  1. ^ a b Biggs, Brad (January 15, 2020). "Jimbo Covert and Ed Sprinkle selected to Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Bears now have 30 members — the most of any team". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  2. ^ "Neale protests Bears' playing of Ed Sprinkle". St. Louis Globe-Democrat. AP. October 21, 1949. Retrieved January 16, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Dell, John (August 4, 1955). "Star End Awaits 12th NFL Season". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved January 16, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Former Bear Ed Sprinkle, 1923-2014, was standout defensive player". Chicago Tribune. 11 August 2014.
  5. ^ Mayer, Larry (January 15, 2020). "Ex-Bears great Sprinkle elected to Hall of Fame". Chicago Bears. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  6. ^ "It's a Whale of a Meal, But a Bum Steer". The Times. December 31, 1969. Retrieved January 16, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Goldstein, Richard (August 1, 2014). "Ed Sprinkle, Defensive End Known for Violent Play, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  8. ^ "Ed Sprinkle, football's 'meanest man', dies at 90".
  9. ^ "Hall of Very Good Class of 2007". Archived from the original on July 7, 2018. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  10. ^ Grant Gordon (January 15, 2020). "Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class revealed". NFL.com. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

External sources

  • "Ed Sprinkle" (PDF). Coffin Corner. 12 (1). Professional Football Researchers Association: 1–3. 1990. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-10-07.
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Chicago Bears starting quarterbacks
Formerly the Decatur Staleys (1920) and the Chicago Staleys (1921)
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Running backs
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two-way players
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Italics denotes members who have been elected, but not yet inducted.