Legends of the 715: Crazy Legs

For this next installment for “Legends of the 715”, we’re going east. Wausau has a few legends from the 715 area code that we’ll be revisiting throughout this series, but the first person we are highlighting is Elroy Hirsch. You may know him by his nickname Crazy Legs. We’ll explain the nickname in a second.

Hirsch was born and raised in Wausau, where he would go on to excel in football, baseball, and basketball. Football is where he made is name known.

He went on to the University of Wisconsin and played on the freshman football team in 1941. In 1942, Hirsch was selected by the Associated Press as a first-team halfback on the 1942 All-Big Ten Conference team.

In 1943, Hirsch enlisted in the marine corps and was transferred to the University of Michigan. During his time at Michigan, he continued to excel at football along with baseball, track, and basketball, making him the first Michigan athlete to letter in four sports in a single year.

After being discharged by the military in 1946, Hirsch led the college all-star team to a victory against the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. A game in which he was named most outstanding player.

He was originally drafted by the Cleveland Rams in the 1945 draft with the 5th overall pick, but did not sign with them. Hirsch intended to go back to UW-Madison. He ended up playing football with the Chicago Rockets of the All-America Football Conference.

In 1949 though, he was looking to move on. He alleged that the Rockets, (at this time now called the Hornets) breached his contract and wanted to be released so he could play for the Green Bay Packers. A heck of a replacement for Don Hutson, who retired from the Packers just a couple of years prior.

However, the Rams still held his draft rights and he signed with the team in 1949 where he would go on to have a Hall of Fame career.

When his playing career was over and the years followed, Hirsch was selected to the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame, named to the NFL 50th and 100th Anniversary All-Time teams.

So, the nickname “Crazy Legs”, how did he earn that? Well, there’s many different versions, stories, and legends out there. But, it all centered around his unusual running style. Hirsch at one point said he “Ran kind of funny because my left foot points out to the side and I seem to wobble.”

The different running style didn’t matter on the football field, because he is still remembered as one of the best football players of all-time.

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