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Author Topic: #33 (tie) - Russ Craft  (Read 1769 times)

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Fan_Since_64

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#33 (tie) - Russ Craft
« on: August 29, 2009, 07:41:10 PM »



#33
Russ Craft


The first of the Greatest Eagles by the Numbers at #33 is Russ Craft, who played both offensive and defensive halfback for the Eagles from 1946 thru 1953.

Russ was picked by the Eagles in the 15th round of the 1943 draft out of Alabama, but didn’t join the team until the conclusion of World War II. Small (5’9”, 178 pounds) but fast, he saw considerable action on offense during the ’46 season, rushing 27 times for 108 yards, both career highs, and catching 4 passes for another 48 yards. Head coach Earl (Greasy) Neale saw his potential as a defensive halfback (the equivalent of a modern cornerback), and that is where he made his greatest mark.

Craft may have been small, but he was a fearless hitter with fine instincts and good hands. He intercepted a total of 19 passes for the Eagles, with a high of 7 in 1950, when he also set a team record (and tied a still-standing NFL record) for interceptions in a game with 4 against the Cardinals in Chicago (teammate Bud Sutton grabbed 3 as the Eagles picked off a total of 8 Jim Hardy passes). He returned a Tobin Rote pass 32 yards for a TD against Green Bay in ’52, his lone score for the Birds as the result of an interception.

Russ also returned a fumble 21 yards for a TD against the Rams in 1949, and has the odd distinction of having blocked three extra point attempts in one game, against Pittsburgh in the ’52 season opener.

Occasionally used as a kick returner, Craft set a then-team record with a 103-yard kickoff return against the Rams in 1950 (still exceeded only by Timmy Brown’s 105-yard return in ’61). Overall, he returned a total of 17 kickoffs for 484 yards (a 28.5 average), with a season high of 10 for 327 yards in ’50. As a punt returner, he had 32 total returns for 247 yards (a 7.7 average) and no TDs, with a high of 19 returns (including 7 in a game against the Cleveland Browns) for 113 yards (5.9 average) in ’50.

Never used in the offensive backfield after 1950, the year when free substitution allowed for two-platoon football in the NFL, his career rushing numbers were 64 carries for 231 yards, a 3.6-yard average, with no TDs. He caught 12 passes for 303 yards, a hefty 25.3-yard average, and 3 TDs, including a 70-yard score on a Tommy Thompson pass against the Boston Yanks at Shibe Park in 1948.

Considered one of the better defensive halfbacks in the NFL in his prime, Russ went to the Pro Bowl following the 1951 and ’52 seasons. He was named as a defensive back on the Eagles All-Time team that was selected in 1965.

He finished his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1954, where he intercepted three passes, including one that was returned 81 yards for a touchdown.

An unsung hero on the back-to-back NFL championship teams of 1948-49, Russ Craft was notable for his toughness and talent in the defensive backfield. His ability to make big plays is evidenced by his name still appearing in the team’s record book some five decades after he last put on an Eagles uniform.

Russ Craft’s career record with the Eagles:

INTERCEPTIONS

Year
1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
1951
1952
1953
G
9
10
12
10
12
12
12
12
Int.
3
1
0
1
7
2
1
4
Yds.
105
0
0
17
70
61
32
46
TD
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0

PUNT RETURNS

Year
1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
1951
G
9
10
12
10
12
12
Ret.
4
1
3
3
19
2
Yds.
47
5
32
50
113
0
Avg.
11.8
5.0
10.7
16.7
5.9
0.0
TD
0
0
0
0
0
0

KICKOFF RETURNS

Year
1946
1950
1951
1952
G
9
12
12
12
Ret.
4
10
2
1
Yds.
86
327
53
18
Avg.
21.5 
32.7 
26.5 
18.0 
TD
0
1
0
0
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Fan_Since_64

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Re: #33 (tie) - Russ Craft
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2009, 07:43:05 PM »

Yep, it's another tie. Other Eagles who wore #33 will be listed after the next profile.
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