Out of the Woods / Trump as shifty as football star "Crazylegs" Hirsch

En route to his controversial record of accomplishments after his “first 100 days,” President Donald J. Trump has displayed a remarkable talent for constantly changing direction on the political field of play. He has changed direction more than many professional athletes on the football field.

As a former college (Dartmouth) sports editor who covered football in the 1940s and ’50’s, I am reminded of one player in particular, Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, a National Football League Hall of Famer who earned his nickname for his erratic on-field running style when he played for the Chicago Americans (1946-1948), and Los Angeles Rams (1949-1957).

He was so outstanding, in fact, that he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968, for running in every direction with the pigskin while successfully dodging tacklers going for him The Chicago Daily News’s Francis Powers was credited with the nickname Elroy “Crazy Legs” in his recap of Wisconsin’s 13-7 victory over Great Lakes Naval Station at Soldier Field in Chicago: “Hirsch ran like a demented duck. His crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions all at the same time during a 61-yard touchdown run that solidified the win,” Powers wrote in an account of that game in the Daily News.

He competed one season at the University of Wisconsin (1942), where he rushed for 786 yards. After joining the Marines, he was stationed in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In his lone season at the University of Michigan (1943), he became the only Wolverine to letter in four sports in the same year (basketball, track, baseball, football).

The over-the-head-catch, which has regained prominence in recent years, was first employed by Hirsch’s ability to make the overhead or over-the-shoulder catch that set him apart: “He would run down the field with his chin high in the air — with his head all the way back. Under a long pass, he didn’t look left or right as they do today — he looked up and back at the ball as it came to him over his head. . . . [He put his head between the ball and the defensive back. That’s how he caught so many bombs,” according to one news story.

In addition to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Hirsch was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (1974). In September 1969, at the time of the NFL’s 50th anniversary, Hirsch was one of 16 players named to the all-time All-Pro team selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Trump’s proposed changes in the direction of his policies far surpass Hirsch’s shifts in direction, and there is only a slim chance he will be able to carry them all out. His changes regarding NATO, China and currency manipulation, the Export-Import Bank, and Syria, to name only a few, cause him to fall far short of his ambitious agenda. It is a contract between Trump and the American voter and stands no chance of passing intact, according to the majority of Washington observers.

Woody Klein is a Westport writer. His “Out of the Woods” column has been published regularly in the Westport News for the past 49 years. He played football for his championship 1945 high school football team in Riverdale, N.Y. He was assisted in compiling this column by Irakli (known as “Ike” ) Kavzharadze with research and computer technology expertise.