William J. Connor '27 (Basketball, Football)

Inducted 1977

A fan’s perception of a big football player in the 1920s was vastly different than today. For example, Catholic University’s Bill Connor stood just 5-foot-8 and weighed 170 pounds but was known as “Big Bill.” Regardless of his size, the Providence, R.I., native was big enough – and talented enough – to play two years in the National Football League.

After graduating from Providence College, Connor journeyed south to compete on the gridiron and earn a law degree. In 1924, Coach Ken Shroyer of Western Maryland – now McDaniel College – honored him as an All-Star tackle among opposing players. The biggest highlight of his 1925 season came when he caught a touchdown pass in a 60-0 rout of Gallaudet.

Connor’s defensive effort was cited twice by CUA’s student newspaper, The Tower, in 1926 games. In a 20-7 loss to the Quantico (Va.) Marines, the paper credited him for "spilling the opposing interference and getting his man time after time.” When the Cards played undefeated Loyola in New Orleans, he was cited for his “brilliant defensive work.” His performance in the Crescent City reportedly resulted in one of the loudest standing ovations in Loyola history.

After earning his law degree, Connor played guard and tackle for the NFL’s Boston Bulldogs (1929) and the Newark (N.J.) Tornadoes (1930). He died in 1980 at 81.

Chris McManes
June 2012