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George Izo, NFL quarterback in 1960, dies aged 84

Sports World News George Izo, NFL quarterback in 1960, dies aged 84

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George Izo, who served as a reserve quarterback in the NFL for seven years, including four in Washington, and shared the unbreakable professional football record for longest touchdown pass, passed away today. June 11 at the retirement facility in Alexandria, Va. He was 84 years old.

His son, Erik Izo, said the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr. Izo (pronounced Eye-zoh) is introduced on cover of Sports Illustrated when he was a college player at Notre Dame and was selected as a second pick in the 1960 NFL draft by the Cardinals, during the franchise’s first year in St. Louis. (The team currently plays in Arizona.)

In 1961, he was transferred to Washington, where he became a subordinate of Norm Snead and later Sonny Jurgensen. Mr. Izo didn’t start a game for the Redskins, as the team was then called up, but he had a forgettable game on September 15, 1963, in Cleveland.

It was the first game of the season, and the Redskins took the lead, 27-7, when head coach Bill McPeak sent Mr. Izo onto the field in the third half. Washington had the ball on the 1 meter line.

Above his Play for the first time, Izo faked a serve, then retreated under pressure in the back yard before slamming a long pass down the field. Washington’s receiver, Bobby Mitchell, caught the ball from about 40 yards, then passed the Cleveland defenders to close the line.

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This was only the second time in NFL history to complete a touchdown pass at 99 yards. The first was in 1939, when another Washington full-back, Frank Filchock – was a substitute for the Hall of Famer. Sammy Baugh – teamed up with Andy Farkas against Pittsburgh.

Both plays were witnessed by longtime Washington Post sportswriter Shirley Povich.

Povich wrote about Mr. Izo in 1963. “No substitute defender has ever been more immediate or spectacular,” writes Povich of Mr. Izo. [50] in the air, and waiting for it was Bobby Mitchell, no less. … In his first game play, Izo made his name in the record books as a co-record holder for longest touchdown pass. “

Since then, there have been 11 more 99-yard touchdown passes in the NFL.

Mr. Izo hit the ground eight times in a Washington uniform before being assigned to the Detroit Lions in 1965. He had his final season with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1966 before retiring from football. He ended his career with 12 touchdown passes. The only time he played for a winning team was his rookie year with the Cardinals.

George William Izo was born on September 20, 1937 in Barberton, Ohio. His father, who worked at a chemical plant, played football at Notre Dame under coach Knute Rockne in the 1920s before having to leave school due to injury.

In high school, young Izo was a standout performer in basketball and baseball and a statewide quarterback in football. He followed his father to Notre Dame Cathedral in South Bend, Ind., at a time when the Irish football team was struggling.

In 1958, in front of a crowd of 57,773 at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, Mr. Izo led Notre Dame to a 40-20 victory over the Navy.

“Using a wing-T formation for the first time,” New York Times reporter Allison Danzig wrote, “and with a newly promoted quarterback, George Izo, completed nine of fourteen 181-yard passes. and three first-half touchdowns – one of the greatest displays of air proficiency in Notre Dame history – Fighting Irish turned the match into a second-half match. “

Mr. Izo became a 6-foot-4 and 218-pound man, but a knee injury held him back. At the end of the 1959 season, he recovered and assumed the starting midfield position. In Notre Dame’s last two games, he led the Irishman to an uncomfortable win over Iowa, 20-19 and seventh-placed Southern California, 16-6.

In the Iowa game, he made three touchdown passes, including a 56-yard game winner to defender George Sefcik in the fourth round.

Mr. Izo graduated in 1960 and began his professional career. After retiring from football, he worked in apartment sales in the Bahamas, then moved back to the Washington area and became a partner with a wholesale food company. He later moved to Arizona, where he coached football and taught at a Navajo Nation high school. He lived in California for several years before settling in Northern Virginia.

He has been active in NFL alumni events and helped organize foreign tours to US military bases for former players, including the Hall of Famers. Paul Hornung and Ken Stabler and former Washington linebacker Billy Kilmer.

His marriage to Anita Rowland and Deborah Spivey ended in divorce. Survivors include two children from his first marriage, Erik Izo of Maplewood, NJ, and Amy Mann Fang of Arlington, Va.; a daughter from his second marriage, Lillianna Izo of Richmond; Brother or brother; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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