Tom Fears was a record-setter. When he broke into the NFL as a rookie in 1948, he caught 51 passes. His second year, the split-end caught an NFL-record 77 passes and scored nine touchdowns. He broke his own record in 1950 with 84 passes for 1,116-yards and seven touchdowns. In a game against the Green Bay Packers that year, Fears hauled in an NFL-record 18 passes. The NFL had never seen anything like Tom Fears before, especially when you consider the NFL was still a league that was basically a running game. But the Rams of the late 40s and early 50s were a high-flying, high-scoring team that took advantage of the skills of Fears and quarterbacks Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin. After his playing days were over, Fears remained in the game working his way up the ranks as a coach ultimately landing the job as the first-ever head coach of the New Orleans Saints. Of course, expansion teams usually find winning difficult, and the Saints were no exception. After three-plus years, Fears was let go. But he didn’t give up. He went back to being an assistant and patiently waited for another opportunity. It finally came with the Southern California Sun of the WFL. Later Tom was a player personnel director with the L.A. Express of the USFL and, afterwards, started his own scouting service working with/for teams like the Pittsburg Steelers and Houston Oilers. However, his scouting service met a cruel ending after Tom’s role with the production of the film, “North Dallas 40”. Tom, who ultimately was enshrined in Canton as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame is this week’s topic on Sports’ Forgotten Heroes with my guest Lee Elder a football historian/researcher from the Professional Football Researcher’s Association.
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