Don Looney ’41
Don Looney ’41
Don Looney, the last surviving member of TCU’s 1938 national champion football team and the oldest remaining former National Football League player, died in April. He was 98.
As the go-to pass catcher for Heisman Trophy winner Davey O’Brien, Looney was a two-time All-Southwest Conference selection in 1938 and 1939 and led the nation in receiving yards with 415 as a senior. He served as co-captain of the team twice and was chosen as the team’s most valuable player his final season.
Recruited by legendary coach Dutch Meyer for football and baseball, Looney was an all-state standout from Sulphur Springs, Texas. He would become a key member of the Horned Frogs’ second title team that finished with an 11-0 mark and won the SWC championship and 1939 Sugar Bowl.
Looney went on to star in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, who selected him in the eighth round in the 1940 draft. With O’Brien playing quarterback, Looney led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards as a rookie and was third in touchdown catches. He also became the first receiver in league history to post 100 yards receiving in each of his first two games, a feat that was not equaled until the 2008 season.
He played two more years with the Pittsburgh Steelers before serving in World War II. After his military service, NFL commissioner Bert Bell invited him to become a league official. He brought along fellow Frogs Bruce Alford ’43 and Lon Evans ’33 and worked games until 1963, when his son, Joe Don Looney, entered the league.
Out of season, Looney worked as an oil company executive in Texas.