Howard Cassady

American football player (1934–2019)

American football player
Hopalong Cassady
refer to caption
Cassady c. 1953
No. 40, 41
Split end
Personal information
Born:(1934-03-02)March 2, 1934
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Died:September 20, 2019(2019-09-20) (aged 85)
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Height:5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight:183 lb (83 kg)
Career information
High school:Central
(Columbus, Ohio)
College:Ohio State (1952–1955)
NFL draft:1956 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
Career history
  • Detroit Lions (1956–1961)
  • Cleveland Browns (1962)
  • Philadelphia Eagles (1962)
  • Detroit Lions (1963)
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:1,229
Rushing average:3.9
Rushing touchdowns:6
Receiving yards:1,601
Receiving touchdowns:18
Player stats at · PFR
College Football Hall of Fame

Howard Albert "Hopalong" Cassady (March 2, 1934 – September 20, 2019) was an American football halfback and split end who played in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the Ohio State Buckeyes, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1955. Cassady played in the NFL for eight seasons, seven of them for the Detroit Lions, with whom he won the 1957 NFL Championship Game. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

Early life

Cassady was born in Columbus, Ohio and attended the now closed Central High School.

College career

Cassady played football for the Ohio State Buckeyes from 1952 to 1955. During his college career, he scored 37 touchdowns in 36 games. He also played defensive back; a pass was never completed on him in his four years at the university. He was twice selected as a unanimous All-American, in 1954 and 1955. The 1954 Buckeyes finished the season 10–0 and won a consensus national championship. That year Cassady finished third in the vote for the Heisman Trophy, behind Alan Ameche of Wisconsin. In 1955, he won the Heisman Trophy (by the largest margin at the time) and the Maxwell Award, and was named the Associated Press Athlete of the Year. During his playing days, he was 5'10" and 170 pounds.

Cassady earned the nickname "Hopalong" during his first game as a freshman for Ohio State. Columbus sportswriters who saw him play said he "hopped all over the field like the performing cowboy", a reference to the fictional character Hopalong Cassidy. In that game, Cassady came off the bench to score three touchdowns in a win over Indiana University.

During an Ohio State practice in 1953, Cassady was having trouble executing an off-tackle run. At this point Coach Woody Hayes told Cassady to take a seat and brought in backup running back Robert Croce, who executed the play flawlessly and carried the ball for 20+ yards. Hayes then told Cassady, "Cassady, did you see that Croce was just slow enough to hit the hole. You're hitting the line too fast!"

Cassady held some Ohio State career records for many years following his graduation. He held the career rushing record (2,466 yards) until it was surpassed by Jim Otis in 1969, the career all-purpose yards record (4,403 yards) until surpassed by Archie Griffin in 1974, and the scoring record (222 points) until surpassed by Pete Johnson in 1975.

Cassady also played baseball for Ohio State. He led the team in home runs in 1955, and stolen bases in 1956. He also became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity there.

He was a member of The Pigskin Club Of Washington, D.C. National Intercollegiate All-American Football Players Honor Roll.

Professional career

Cassady played eight seasons in the National Football League: seven (1956–1961, and 1963) for the Detroit Lions, and one season (1962) split between the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles. In the NFL he was an all-purpose back, playing both receiver and running back and scoring 27 career touchdowns.

After football

After retiring from football, Cassady became an entrepreneur forming a company manufacturing concrete pipe. He then served as a scout for the New York Yankees baseball team, and as the first base coach for their former AAA affiliate, the Columbus Clippers.

His son Craig Cassady played defensive back at Ohio State, and briefly in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints in the 1970s.[1]

Cassady died on September 20, 2019, at his home in Tampa, Florida.[2][3] He is one of at least 345 NFL players to be diagnosed after death with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE),[4] which is caused by repeated hits to the head.[5][6]


  1. ^ "Craig Cassady Stats -".
  2. ^ Goldstein, Richard (20 September 2019). "Howard (Hopalong) Cassady, Speedy Heisman Winner, Dies at 85". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Howard Cassady, former American football player dies at 85
  4. ^ Kent Babb (Dec 8, 2023). "They watched their husbands win the Heisman – then lost them to CTE. For years, Heisman weekend was a chance to remember their husband's glory. Now it's a reminder of a sport's violent toll". Washington Post. Retrieved Dec 9, 2023.
  5. ^ "The driving force behind Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)". Concussion Legacy Foundation. Retrieved July 2, 2023.
  6. ^ Ken Belson and Benjamin Mueller (June 20, 2023). "Collective Force of Head Hits, Not Just the Number of Them, Increases Odds of C.T.E. The largest study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy to date found that the cumulative force of head hits absorbed by players in their careers is the best predictor of future brain disease". The New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2023.

External links

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Detroit Lions 1956 NFL draft selections
  • Howard Cassady
  • Don McIlhenny
  • Jerry Reichow
  • Tom Tracy
  • Bob Lusk
  • Gene Cronin
  • Jack Powell
  • Cal Jones
  • Joe Silas
  • Lew Wacker
  • Tom Selep
  • Bob Nunnery
  • O.K. Ferguson
  • Ronnie Falls
  • Horace (Buzzy) Allert
  • Len Zyzda
  • Ken Wind
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  • Dale Vaughn
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  • Dick Marazza
  • Bob Garrard
  • Jarv Walz
  • Jerry Hall
  • Joe Walden
  • Bryan Burnthorne
  • John Smith
  • Doug Peters
  • John Gibbens
Howard Cassady—championships, awards, and honors
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1954 Ohio State Buckeyes football—AP national champions
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Sporting News College Football Player of the Year winners
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Chicago Tribune Silver Football