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5 Things You Didn't Know About Glenn "Pop" Warner

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Football teams around the country are furiously training for the upcoming season, so this week let's take a look at five things you may not know about the man whose name has been synonymous with pigskin action for generations of boys, Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner.

1. He Was Originally a Lawyer

Although Warner played football for Cornell from 1892 to 1894, he didn't think of turning the sport into a job. (He did, however, get a lifelong nickname from his teammates, who called him "Pop" because he was a few years older than the rest of the roster.) When Warner graduated from Cornell, he moved to western New York and began working as a lawyer.


The legal profession didn't suit Warner, though, and he quickly left the field to take a job as the football coach at Iowa State. By 1895 he was the head coach at Georgia. Over the course of his 44-year career as a head coach, Warner also helmed teams for Cornell, Pitt, Stanford, Temple, and Carlisle Indian Industrial School, a Native American school in Carlisle, PA.


The Indians' football program was only active from 1893 to 1917, but Carlisle's .647 winning percentage is still the highest of any defunct college football team. Warner later called the Carlisle job "the easiest coaching assignment I ever had." He continued, "Those Indians were natural athletes, and their powers of observation remarkably keen. The younger players watched the older ones and caught on quickly. I never had to teach them much."

2. He Invented a Lot of Football's Staples

You may know that Warner innovated a number of football basics, but it's amazing just how many of Warner's ideas we now take for granted.

Warner gets credit for coming up with the three-point stance, shoulder and thigh pads, the spiral punt, the screen pass, the single-wing and double-wing formations, numbering players' jerseys, and improved helmets. Historians also credit Warner for introducing blocking sleds and tackling dummies to teams' practice routines. In short, if you enjoy football, tip your cap to Warner.

3. He Discovered Jim Thorpe


During Warner's second tenure at Carlisle Indian, he helped build the career of one of America's most iconic athletes, Jim Thorpe. Warner first discovered Thorpe as a skinny 155-pound Native American boy of 15, but while working as a track and football coach for Carlisle, he saw Thorpe transform himself into the nation's best pigskin talent and an Olympic pentathlon and decathlon champ.


It sounds strange now that Thorpe is a legend, but Warner always thought he could have coaxed more out of his star. He later said, "Thorpe rarely gave more than 50 or 60 percent of himself. But when he went all out "“ well, it was humanly impossible for anyone to be better." Whether or not he was loafing, Thorpe had such an amazing career that Cornell once honored its famous alum Warner as "the inventor of the single wing, the double wing and Jim Thorpe."

4. He Wasn't Afraid to Bend a Rule

For most of Warner's career, football was still getting its bearings, and as a result, the rulebook had its share of shortcomings. Warner wasn't afraid to exploit these loopholes to his advantage, either. During Warner's second stint at Carlisle Indian in 1908, he came up with a particularly brilliant trick. The rules allowed players to wear elbow pads, so Warner outfitted his team with a specialized set of pads that looked like a football when the players' arms were crossed at the chest.

The pads obviously baffled defenders who could no longer tell which one of Warner's players was actually carrying the ball. Percy Haughter of Harvard eventually defused Warner's trick by using the rulebook against the cagey coach. Haughter took Warner aside and said that he understood that the rules allowed elbow pads"¦but they also allowed the home team to pick and supply the game balls. Warner could use his elbow pads against Harvard, but he would have to play through a game with a red-white-and-blue ball.

Smart move by the Harvard men, but they'd been tricked by Warner before. In a previous game, Warner broke out a gadget play for an easy touchdown against the Crimson. Carlisle's quarterback, Mount Pleasant, took a snap and began running downfield. What the defense didn't realize was that the QB had stuffed the ball in the back of his center's jersey. Center Charlie Dillon walked untouched into the end zone for the score.

5. Dependability Helped Immortalize Him

Sure, Warner innovated new offenses and won 319 NCAA games, but how did his name get attached to Pop Warner Football? By keeping his word. In April 1934, Warner was scheduled to talk to players and coaches in the Junior Football Conference, a large youth football league based in Philadelphia. Warner was supposed to appear with eleven other area college coaches, but on the night of the talk the weather was horrendous. It was unusually cold, and torrential rain had begun mixing with sleet. Of all the coaches who had agreed to talk, only the legendary Warner showed up.

As the night's only attraction, Warner took his speaking seriously. He regaled 800 boys with gridiron stories and answered their questions for two hours, and at the end of the night the players and league organizers were so taken with Warner's generosity, enthusiasm, and dedication that they renamed their program the Pop Warner Conference.

If there's someone you'd like to see profiled in a future edition of '5 Things You Didn't Know About...,' leave us a comment. You can read the previous installments here.

5 Things You Didn't Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs, but there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams' mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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5 Things You Should Know About Robert Todd Lincoln
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Robert Todd Lincoln was Abraham Lincoln's oldest son and the only Lincoln child to survive into adulthood. While he didn't make quite the mark on history that his father did, Robert Lincoln had a pretty interesting life himself. Let's take a look at five things you might not know about him:

1. He Was on Ulysses S. Grant's Personal Staff

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Part of Abraham Lincoln's mystique lies in his humble roots as a self-made man who found education where he could. His eldest son didn't have to go through quite as many trials and tribulations to do some learning, though. Robert left Springfield, Illinois, to attend boarding school at New Hampshire's elite Phillips Exeter Academy when he was a young man, and he later graduated from Harvard during his father's presidency.

After completing his undergrad degree, Robert stuck around Cambridge to go to Harvard Law School, but that arrangement didn't last very long. After studying law for just a few months, Lincoln received a commission as a captain in the army. Lincoln's assignment put him on Ulysses S. Grant's personal staff, so he didn't see much fighting. He did get a nice view of history, though; Lincoln was present as part of Grant's junior staff at Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

After the war ended, Lincoln moved to Chicago with his mother and brother and wrapped up his legal studies.

2. The Booth Family Did Him a Favor

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In 1863 or 1864, young Robert Lincoln was traveling by train from New York to Washington during a break from his studies at Harvard. He hopped off the train during a stop at Jersey City, only to find himself on an extremely crowded platform. To be polite, Lincoln stepped back to wait his turn to walk across the platform, his back pressed to one of the train's cars.

This situation probably seemed harmless enough until the train started moving, which whipped Lincoln around and dropped him into the space between the platform and train, an incredibly dangerous place to be.

Lincoln probably would have been dead meat if a stranger hadn't yanked him out of the hole by his collar. That stranger? None other than Edwin Booth, one of the most celebrated actors of the 19th century and brother of eventual Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Lincoln immediately recognized the famous thespian "“ this was sort of like if George Clooney pulled you from a burning car today "“ and thanked him effusively. The actor had no idea whose life he had saved until he received a letter commending him for his bravery in saving the President's son a few months later.

3. He Had a Strange Knack for Being Near Assassinations

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Lee's surrender wasn't the only history Lincoln ended up witnessing, although things got a bit grislier for him after Appomattox. As he arrived back in Washington in April 1865 Lincoln's parents invited him to go see Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater with them. The young officer was so exhausted after his journey that he begged off so he could get a good night's sleep. That night, of course, John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln's father, and Robert Todd was with the celebrated president when he passed away the next morning.

By 1881, Lincoln's political lineage and prominence as a lawyer qualified him for a national office, and he became Secretary of War under the newly inaugurated James A. Garfield. That July, Lincoln was scheduled to travel to Elberon, New Jersey, by train with the President, but the trip never took off. Before Lincoln and Garfield's train could leave the station, Charles Guiteau shot the Garfield, who died of complications from the wound two months later.

Oddly, that wasn't all for Lincoln, though. Two decades passed without a presidential assassination, but Lincoln's strange luck reared its head again in 1901. Lincoln traveled to Buffalo at the invitation of President William McKinley to attend the Pan-American Exposition. Although he arrived a bit late to the even, Lincoln was on his way to meet McKinley when anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot the president twice at close range.

Following these three bits of bad luck Lincoln refused to attend any presidential functions. He dryly noted that there was "a certain fatality about the presidential function when I am present."

4. He Realized His Mom Was a Little Nutty

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Mary Todd Lincoln is fairly widely renowned today for being mentally ill, but it wasn't quite such an open secret when she was still alive. Robert, however, realized that his mother needed psychiatric help so she didn't become a danger to herself or an embarrassment to her family, so he had her involuntarily committed to a mental hospital in 1875 following a hearing that declared her insane.

Mary Todd was none too pleased about this plan. She not only snuck letters to her lawyer to help her escape from the institution, she also wrote newspaper editors in an effort to convince the public of her sanity. Mary Todd's ploy worked; at a second sanity hearing in 1876 she was declared sane and released from the Batavia, Illinois, sanatorium to which she'd been confined. However, by this point she'd been publicly humiliated and never really patched up her relationship with Robert before her death in 1882.

5. He Made Some Serious Dough on the Railroads

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Once he got his legal practice up and running, Lincoln found a particularly lucrative clientele in the booming railroad industry. He spent most of his career working as a corporate lawyer for various railroads and train-related companies; the only breaks were his four-year stint as Secretary of War under Garfield and successor Chester A. Arthur and a four-year hitch as a minister to Britain under President Benjamin Harrison.

One of Lincoln's major clients was the Pullman Palace Car Company, for which he served as general counsel. When founder George Pullman died in 1897, Lincoln became president of the company, and in 1911 he became chairman of the Pullman Company's board. His lofty position in one of the country's most lucrative companies made him a millionaire and enabled Lincoln to build a sprawling estate, Hildene, in Manchester, Vermont.

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