Staley’s Bears 1920-1921

John “Paddy” Leo Driscoll (“The Wasp”)

Height: 5’8 Weight: 165 [Various sources give his height at 5’9” & 5’11”]
Born: 1/11/1895 Evanston, IL
Died: 6/28/1968 Chicago, IL
High School: Evanston Township (Evanston, IL)
College: Northwestern
Staleys: 1920 [one game]

Driscoll was a gifted athlete in many sports at Evanston Township High School and then at Northwestern University. In 1915 he was the leading scorer as quarterback for the Wildcats and as team captain in 1916 was All Conference and All American. He played baseball for Northwestern in the spring of 1917 and then joined the Chicago Cubs that summer and played in a few games from June 12 through August 12.

He returned to college classes in the fall but had lost his eligibility due to playing professional baseball. He played some football at this time for the Hammond Pros before entering the U.S. Navy. One paper later reported that his college career was “curtailed because of financial circumstances.” Paddy was assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Station in March 1918 where he joined George Halas playing baseball and football and in going to the 1919 Rose Bowl. That fall, he and Halas played football for Hammond while working other jobs. In the summer of 1920 he agreed to play football for the Decatur Staleys but then never came as he got an offer more to his liking from the Racine [Chicago] Cardinals.

Driscoll was head coach and played quarterback for the Cardinals and his team split home and away games with the Staleys that season. After his last Cardinal-Staley game at Cubs Park on December 5, 1920, he turned around and got paid to play for the Staleys against the Akron Indians in a scoreless game at week later. He returned to the Cardinals as player/coach the following year. When George Halas and Dutch Sternaman incorporated the Chicago Bears in the spring of 1922, Driscoll was listed as a partner. When the now named NFL found out, it would not allow Paddy to be an owner of one Chicago football team while playing for another.

From 1920 to 1929 he played six seasons for the Cardinals and four for the Chicago Bears. He later coached at Chicago St. Mel’s High School for 13 years and at Marquette University in Milwaukee from 1937 through 1940. He finished his coaching career as head coach of the Bears in 1956 and 1957.

Driscoll was inducted into the Pro Football hall of Fame in 1965 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1974. He was named as a member of the NFL 1920s All-Decade Team.

Copyright ©2016 Mark W. Sorensen