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November 27, 1903: The birth of Johnny “Blood” McNally

On this day in 1903, Johnny “Blood” McNally—star of the NFL’s Duluth Eskimos and Green Bay Packers—was born in New Richmond, Wisconsin. The real name of the hard-playing, hard-drinking, future NFL hall-of-famer was John Victor McNally. He “would have made Brett Favre seem like an introverted librarian,” as Doug Moe of the Madison, Wisconsin, Capital Times once wrote. He was “Paul Hornung, if Hornung had read Herman Melville [or] Brett Favre, if Favre could debate Thomas Malthus’ theory of economics.” He attended college at St. Johns near St. Cloud, Minnesota, where he was the first St. John’s athlete to earn letters in four sports: football, basketball, baseball, and track. it was illegal for college players to be paid to play, so he took the name “Blood” off a movie marquee and played several pro games during college as “Johnny Blood.” He joined the Eskimos for their infamous 1926–1927 28-game road trip, where he spent a lot of his spare time getting into trouble. McNally retired from football in 1939, his forty-five career touchdowns and 270 points—224 of them for the Packers—both NFL records. “I was reckless, they said, on the football field, McNally would later say. “I liked to have a good time back then: women, travel, a little drinking…. I was very uninhibited, that way, all my life.” Read more about about the legendary Duluth Eskimos here.

Johnny “Blood” McNally. (Image: Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame)