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Elmer Layden: All-Time Irish Hero

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

By: Phil Houk of Fighting Irish Preview

This week's All-time Irish Hero was the star of the first ever bowl game played in by Notre Dame who went on to live a "triple crown" life of accomplishment. The 1925 Rose Bowl game , was the only Bowl game that Notre Dame ever played in until 1969 when the decision was made to start participating in bowls regularly by the University. The 1925 game, matched up two legendary Coaches. Pop Warner and Knute Rockne, and some legendary players. The great fullback Ernie Nevers took the field for Stanford and for the Irish in their last ND game together ever, the Four Horseman. Stanford arguably dominated the game, but made mistakes, lots of them, eight turnovers to be exact! And the star for the Irish that took advantage of those mistakes was one of the Four Horseman, Elmer Layden. Off a turnover in the second quarter Layden gave the Irish the lead on a 3-yard touchdown run. Later on, Layden came up with not one but, two pick six plays one a 78-yard interception return and the other a 70-yard return. Layden also accounted for the 4th touchdown with a 65-yard touchdown pass. On the strength of Layden’s great performance the Irish prevailed 27-10 and completed a 9-0 season. The 1924 Irish were then awarded the National Championship. Layden who hailed from Davenport, Iowa went on to a diverse and impressive career after his Four Horseman days. He went into coaching and in 1934 he took over the top job in South Bend. Over 7 years at Notre Dame he compiled an impressive 47-13 -3 record. In 1941 he accepted an opportunity to become the first Commissioner of the fledgling National Football League a role he filled for the next five years. He was a steady hand as the league went through the turbulent war years and instability among its teams.

After finishing out his days as a successful businessman, Elmer Layden passed away in 1973.

He was 70 years old.


Elmer Layden: one of the Four Horseman, a successful head coach at Notre Dame, and the first Commissioner of the NFL. A "triple crown" life of accomplishment and exceptionally worthy of the title, "All-time Irish Hero".

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