Emlen Tunnell

Emlen Tunnell, Radnor
Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on March 29, 1925, Emlen Tunnell grew up in the Main Line suburb of Radnor in the multi-ethnic Garrett Hill neighborhood.

Tunnell was an outstanding all-around athlete at Radnor High School, where he was All-State in both football and basketball, and was given a scholarship to the University of Toledo to play football. As a freshman, he suffered a neck injury so severe that when he awoke in the hospital, a priest was administering Last Rites. He returned to Garrett Hill in a neck brace that he wore for several months, and was told that he would never play football again. He played basketball for Toledo instead, but like many young men during the war he wanted to enlist, but the US Army and US Navy both rejected his attempts. He was eventually accepted by the US Coast Guard, and spent two years of service there before returning to play football for the University of Iowa.

While in the service he saved the lives of two of his shipmates on two different occasions and was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard Silver Lifesaving Award.

Tunnell played 14 years in the National Football League. He played his first 11 years with the New York Giants and the last three years with the Green Bay Packers. Tunnell was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. He moved from the Giants to the Packers when Giants offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi took over the head coaching duties at Green Bay and in 1961 assisted the Packers in winning the NFL Championship against his old team, the Giants. He retired after that season with a record that included leading the NFL in punt return yards twice, in 1951 and 1952 and playing a then-NFL record of 143 consecutive games.

He ended his career with a record 79 interceptions (since surpassed by Paul Krause, another University of Iowa Hawkeye), which he returned for 1,282 yards and 4 touchdowns, and 16 fumble recoveries, along with another 3,506 return yards and 6 touchdowns on special teams. He was elected as the first African-American in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967. Tunnell became a scout and assistant coach with the Giants, and died from a heart attack in Pleasantville, New York during a practice session in 1975.

For more information, visit EmlenTunnell.com