Football Year’s Death Harvest: Record Shows That Nineteen Football Players Have been Killed in 1905

Football Year’s Death Harvest. Chicago Daily Tribune, 26 November 1905. “Record shows that nineteen [football] players have been killed; one hundred thirty-seven hurt…. Chancellor MacCracken of New York [University] calls for the reform or abolition of the game. Urges Harvard to lead the way. Telegraphs President Eliot [of Harvard University] asking him to call a conference of College Presidents to act.”

Excerpts from story:

[Telegram from the Chicago Daily Tribune to President Theodore Roosevelt on 25 November 1905]: “The football season practically closed today with two dead on the field of battle. Today’s fatalities bring the total of slain to nineteen, and the injured (record only being made of accidents out of the ordinary) to 137. This year’s record of deaths is more than double that of the yearly average for the last five years, the total for that period being forty-five….”

THOSE KILLED YESTERDAY [25 November 1905]: MOORE WILLIAM A., right half back of Union College; killed in game with New York University; fractured skull in bucking the line; died in hospital….

The death of Moore may have far reaching consequences. He may be the sacrificial victim on the altar of “sport” whose blood will cry aloud with so much insistence that even the deafest of college authorities might listen, and listening, act….

It was just after the beginning of the second half that Moore was injured. From the beginning the game had been close and desperately contested.

In an attempt to get through the New York center Moore went at the line head first like a catapult. This play was his last. No one saw what Moore’s head struck, but he dropped limply to one side of the scrimmage and the ball fell from his hands. All efforts to revive him failed….

Although the accident temporarily delayed the game, as soon as the unconscious half back had been carried from the field he was practically forgotten and the game proceeded to the end….