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2. Emlen Tunnell

After playing at Toledo, a stint with the Coast Guard, and another college football run with Iowa, Emlen Tunnell would make Giants' history as the first African-American they signed.  As it would turn out, Tunnell would also become the best signing they ever did.

Tunnell blossomed into a ball-hawk petrifying Quarterbacks and infuriating Receivers for more than a decade.  From his rookie season to 1957, Tunnell never had a year where he had less than six Interceptions, and he peaked with a 10-INT year in 1949.  Tunnell was named to the Pro Bowl annually from 1950 to 1957, with four of those years also earning a First Team All-Pro spot.  He was also a vital part of a loaded Giants team that won the 1956 NFL Championship.

He would have 72 Interceptions over his Giants career, which remains a franchise record.  Overall, he had another seven with Green Bay, and he was the all-time leader in Interceptions at the time of his retirement.

Tunnell was also used as a returner, and he twice led the NFL in Punt Return Yards, and he brought back five punts for a Touchdown. He would accumulate 2,206 Punt Return Yards with the Giants (and another three with Green Bay), and he was the all-time leader in Punt Return Yards at the time of his retirement. 

Tunnell’s contract was sold to the Green Bay Packers after the 1958 Season.  He played under the legendary Vince Lombardi for three seasons, earning another Pro Bowl and a second NFL Championship.

He would enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, and Tunnell would also be named to the NFL 100thAnniversary Team.  

The Bullet Points

  • Position: Defensive Back, Safety
  • Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent before the 1948 Season.
  • Departed: Sold to the Green Bay Packers after the 1958 Season.
  • Games Played: 130
  • Notable Statistics:

    112 Games Started
    74 Interceptions
    1,240 Interception Return Yards
    4 Interception Return Touchdowns
    15 Fumble Recoveries
    10 Fumble Recovery Yards
    257 Punt Returns
    2,206 Punt Return Yards
    5 Punt Return Touchdowns
    46 Kick Returns
    1,215 Kick Return Yards
    1 Kick Return Touchdown
    17 Rushing Attempts
    43 Rushing Yards
    5 Receptions
    15 Receiving Yards
    1 Pass Completion
    2 Pass Attempts
    23 Passing Yards

  • Major Accolades and Awards:

    NFL Champion (1956)
    First Team All-Pro (1951, 1952, 1955 & 1956)
    Second Team All-Pro (1960 & 1963)
    Pro Bowl (1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956 & 1957)
    Most Fumble Recoveries (1952)
    Most Punt Returns (1951 & 1953)
    Most Punt Return Yards (1951 & 1952)

Last modified on Friday, 18 December 2020 22:54
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