Linger, Oh Linger, Heffelfinger

Super Bowl shuttle pass

The highlight of attending NFL Experience, the Super Bowl event near Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium, was seeing Hall of Fame exhibits on loan from Canton.

Until I saw the Birth of Pro Football display, I didn't know the first pro player had the Dickensian name of Pudge Heffelfinger.

A standout at Yale, in 1892, Heffelfinger earned $500 ($10,200 in today's dollars) to play one game as a ringer for the Allegheny Athletic Association, a cheat that wasn't confirmed until 70 years later.

He was the first pro, the first contract holdout, and the first Maurice Clarett, leaving school to play for independent clubs like Allegheny. Yale fans tried in vain to convince him to stay with the odd chant "linger, oh linger, Heffelfinger."

Read more on the event from David Knighton, who was also there on Saturday and found something I wish I had seen: Pat Tillman's locker.

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