A Passing Centennial

September 5th, 2006

Pay attention, football fans: today marks the 100th anniversary of the forward pass. Through 1905, football was entirely a running game, but in 1906 the forward pass became legal and Saint Louis University became the first team to use the play, in a 22-0 victory over Carroll College. SLU’s first pass attempt fell incomplete, but its second attempt went for 20 yards and a touchdown. A forward pass attempt in 1906 was a high-stakes play: any incomplete pass or completion of fewer than five yards downfield yielded possession. A pass completed into the end zone was a touchback, not a touchdown. Drop the ball these days, and we hardly stop the clock. Oh, how times have changed . . .

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