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Bobby Layne and Cotton Bowl Memories

Posted by Burt M 
Bobby Layne and Cotton Bowl Memories
August 25, 2013 06:59PM
When asked what I wanted for Christmas, my memory doesn’t have any hesitation. “Cotton Bowl tickets, I answered. And my parents came through. Come Christmas morning there were tickets.

Another memory: New Year’s Day, 1946 in Dallas was absolutely perfect. The weather was sunny without much wind, temperature in the mid-seventies. Short sleeve weather.

The game itself is remembered mostly because of Bobby Layne’s huge day. However, it would have been memorable for other reasons also. It matched two conference champions, the University of Texas, champs of the SWC, and Missouri who had won the conference that within a decade would grow into the Big Eight. And if Texas was not ranked in the top ten, they had to be very close. As well, this turned out to be UT coach Dana X. Bible’s last conference title as he retired at the end if the following season. Then there was Mizzou’s Split-T formation offense, something very few in the stands (other than MU fans) had ever seen before. I, of course, at that time, wouldn’t have known a Split-T from a Model T. Apparently the Longhorns didn’t either as Missouri rushed for huge chunks of yardage all day.

But it was Layne’s game. Bobby Layne, a sophomore fullback in Coach Bible’s single-wing, scored four of UT’s six touchdowns and passed for the other two. His passing was almost perfect that afternoon. Then, too, he kicked all four of the Horns’ made extra points, out of the five he attempted.

I brought a camera with me. While not a Brownie or even a Kodak, it probably was about that level as to features. There was no “zoom” type lens. The shutter speed was too slow to get action shots, so I had to take my pictures before the ball was snapped. The roll held eight shots, and I’m sure I used them all. A few years ago I discovered that two still existed. Here’s one.


Longhorns, single-wing right from about the MU one. The crowd is standing; photographers are ready, standing near. I was obviously excited myself, enough to move the camera when snapping the picture. The Cotton Bowl itself looks somewhat cockeyed and the near goal post is skewed. I feel certain Layne punched it in on this play.


The other shot is of the Missouri Tigers ready to attempt an extra point. I would have preferred to find one of the MU offense lined up, but alas… The nearest UT defender here on this conversion try seemed to me to be about the position where the fullback would line up on defense. So, I magnified it as best I could found the number on his back was 33, Layne’s number. A picture of ol’ Bobby himself— however small.

Here’s another memory. Missouri didn’t bring its band. This could have been due to wartime travel restrictions being still in effect. Some were. Anyway, Dad was incensed that the Cotton Bowl had not provided the Tigers with a band. With several high schools in Dallas having good-sized, good quality bands, I imagine at least one would have been willing to learn and practice a few new songs just to be able to be there. Didn’t happen, though.

After the Longhorns’ first (or maybe second) touchdown in the second half, a very small person wearing number 99 came off the Texas bench and ran to the huddle as they prepared for the extra point try. Dad told us that this wasn’t a regular player but sort of a team mascot. “We might see a dropkick,” he said. Never having seen one, this excited me. But, no. The “mascot” threw a pitiful looking pass, trying for the point, but it fell incomplete. (The little guy’s name was Rooster Andrews. I looked it up last week.)


Here’s the program cover. Ran across it somewhere on the net. It sold for a quarter. I sure got my two bits worth that day and over the next few weeks. Wish I still had my copy. That game and day were really big in my eleven year-old life of the time. Sadly those memories are fading fast.
Re: Bobby Layne and Cotton Bowl Memories
August 25, 2013 08:37PM
burt that was a little before my time but thanks for sharing the memories
Re: Bobby Layne and Cotton Bowl Memories
August 26, 2013 03:58AM
Burt, In Jan. 1946 I was a 4 month old infant living in Eastern NC but one of the names in your article rang a bell in my memory from being at Highland Park my junior and senior year....
Bobby Layne
There is quite a long bio on him at [en.wikipedia.org]
Some excepts:
"Robert Lawrence "Bobby" Layne (December 19, 1926 – December 1, 1986) was an American football quarterback who played for 15 seasons in the National Football League. He played for the Chicago Bears in 1948, the New York Bulldogs in 1949, the Detroit Lions from 1950–1958, and the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1958–1962. He was drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 1948 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Texas.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968. His number, 22, has been retired by the University of Texas Longhorns and Detroit Lions..............

Layne was born in Santa Anna, Texas and attended Highland Park High School in Dallas. He played football with teammate Doak Walker.

......One of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play for Texas, Layne was selected to four straight All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944-1947. He was one of the first inductees into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. In the 1946 Cotton Bowl Classic, where Texas beat Missouri 40-27, Layne accounted for every point, scoring four touchdowns, kicking four extra points and throwing for two other scores.[1] In 1946, Layne finished 8th in Heisman Trophy balloting to Glenn Davis of Army and in 1947 he finished 6th to John Lujack of Notre Dame, and was voted the Outstanding Back in the 1948 Sugar Bowl victory over #6 Alabama. Layne finished his Texas career with a school record 3,145 passing yards on 210 completions and 400 attempts. Layne also had success in baseball as a pitcher for Texas as well. In his career as a pitcher he threw two no hitters.............

From 1950-1955, Layne was re-united with his great friend and Highland Park High School teammate Doak Walker........

"Curse of Bobby Layne"

"In 1958, the Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Layne responded to the trade by supposedly saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years". This story has been disputed as being a hoax, particularly because the quote was never published at the time.

Still, for the next 50 years after the trade, the Lions accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL.
They are still one of only two franchises that have been in the NFL since 1970 that have not played in a Super Bowl (the other team is the Cleveland Browns, although the first Browns team did win the Super Bowl after the 2000 and 2012 seasons as the transplanted Baltimore Ravens). The Lions, for those 50 years, were 1-10 in ten postseason appearances; their lone playoff win came against Dallas following the 1991 regular season. In the last year of the supposed curse, 2008, Detroit went 0-16, the first team to lose every game of a 16-game season.

Coincidentally, in the 2009 NFL Draft, right after the curse supposedly expired, the Detroit Lions drafted University of Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford first-overall. He came from Highland Park High School, the same high school as Layne, and lived in a house on the same street as Layne's. In 2011, Stafford's first full injuryless season, he led the Lions to their first playoff berth since 1999 but still failed to win a playoff game when Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints routed them in the Superdome."

(Btw, Burt and MrChuck I replied to each of you in a p.m. a couple weeks or so ago but cannot tell if you either one received it??)
Re: Bobby Layne and Cotton Bowl Memories
August 26, 2013 03:10PM
I don't remember the connection now, except don't think it was immediate family. Layne used visit Dallas and stay with the people who lived two doors from us when I was growing up. I think it was of Layne that the remark, "He ran out of time some days, but he never lost a game," was made. Pretty neat for that HP team, two future All American players including a Heisman winner in the same backfield.
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