The University of Chicago had the ball. Their man raced down h.., the field on the outside. The opposition tried to stop him, but each attempt failed. Thirty. Twenty. Ten. Five. Touchdown!
Fans roared approval. Team members congratulated each other as the numbers on the scoreboard flipped upward by six.
In the excitement, no one noticed a man on the field engaged in close conversation with one of the referees. Suddenly the newly acquired points vanished from the scoreboard and an angry buzz swept the bleachers. «Stagg’s on his honesty kick again,» some grumbled; but respect and admiration also lurked in their moans.
Amos Alonzo Stagg was coach of the Chicago team. His man had just scored the touchdown. But something had gone wrong with the play; something that the referees, the players, and the crowd hadn’t noticed. The runner, in his all-out attempt to make it to the goal line, had stepped out of bounds and only the coach had noticed.
«We don’t deserve them,» Stagg said, pointing at the scoreboard. «I’d rather lose every game than win one unfairly.» So the points vanished.Did such an honest man have a chance in the competitive world of professional football? During the years that Stagg coached the team, they won 273 games, a fantastic record.
Time magazine reported that Stagg «invented just about everything there is to football today.» The huddle, forward pass, shift, man in motion, unbalanced line, onside kick, delayed buck, sleeper play—all were his ideas. His teams won seven Big Ten titles, and four teams never lost a game! Amos Stagg died at age 102 in 1965.
Does honesty work? Just ask Chicago football fans.