With the London Summer Olympics about to get underway, the thought of famous deaf athletes comes to mind (at least to my mind). Several weeks ago we featured an article about William Hoy, a deaf baseball player who is credited for inventing the sings that are still used today in Major League Baseball (MLB). Are there any other famous deaf athletes? Absolutely!
In 1892 Paul Hubbard was the star quarterback for the Gallaudet Bison football team. Hubbard was worried that other teams – both deaf and hearing teams – were stealing his hand signals at the line of scrimmage. During one game against the Illinois School for the Deaf, Hubbard could tell the opposing team was reading his signals and he decided to do something about it. Hubbard called his offensive line to “huddle up” before the next play and was able to call the next play without the opposing team knowing what they were about to do. It worked so well that today the huddle is as much part of football as helmets and shoulder pads.
Dr. I. H. Baker’s encyclopedic Football: Facts and Figures states that the first football huddle was used by the University of Georgia in a game with Auburn in 1896. Baker bases the statement on information from Fuzzy Woodruff’s account of the game in his History of Southern Football, written 32 years after the event. Hubbard was playing football (and credited for huddle) before that.
And of course Amos A. Stagg’s name always comes up when crediting anything for football. Stagg has been credited for almost everything form the forward pass and the man in motion to padded goalposts and the onside kick!
Logic for the invention of the huddle is on the side of deaf players, unfortunately there is no printed documentation.