Pro Football Hall of Famer Clyde "Bulldog" Turner, a two-way star on four Chicago Bears championship teams who once defied demanding coach George Halas, has died. He was 79.
Turner's daughter, Pat, told the Chicago Tribune her father suffered from emphysema and was diagnosed with lung cancer in March. He died Friday at his home in Gatesville, Texas.
Turner, who at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds was exceptionally big for his era and also fast, played center and linebacker. He was the team's first-round draft pick in 1940, the year the Bears beat the Washington Redskins 73-0 for their first of four championships of that decade.
In that game, Turner disobeyed a direct order from the Halas - who also owned the Bears and was a founding father of the NFL. Turner once told an interviewer that so many extra-point kicks were being lost to the fans in the stands that Halas ordered him to make a bad snap.
Even though the team was down to practice balls, Turner refused.
"I told Halas I wasn't going to make a bad snap, not in a championship game," Turner recalled. "I never made a bad snap in my life."
Undeterred, Halas convinced the holder to drop the ball. Turner said he was blamed for the botch the next day in newspaper accounts of the game.
Turner was chosen all-NFL six times and was known for his flawless snapping and blocking abilities. He led the NFL in interceptions with eight in 1942 and picked off four passes in his five championship games - returning one 24 yards for a touchdown in the rout of the Redskins.
Turner also returned a 1947 interception against Sammy Baugh 96 yards for a touchown, a play he called his favorite.
Turner, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966, also played running back in emergency situations, scoring on a 48-yard touchdown run in 1944.
"Who knows what kind of player he would have been if he ever got to rest during a game," former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer George Musso once said.
Turner was also a teammate of Sid Luckman, who died earlier this year.
"Bulldog and Luckman were quite a combination," teammate Ed Sprinkle said. "I don't know who did their job better."
"He (Turner) didn't feel he had a peer on the football field."
Turner, who made $2,000 in his first season, played for the Bears for 13 years. He was a player-coach in 1952, a full-time assistant under Halas through 1956 and head coach of the New York Titans of the American Football League in 1962.
Turner is survived by two daughters, a sister, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. His wife, Gladys, died in 1988.
Services are Monday in Gatesville.
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