RECREATION & FITNESS

Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame

Charles Albert Conerly, Jr.
Charles Albert Conerly, Jr.
Class of 2010

University of Mississippi/NY Giants

Charles "Charlie" Conerly was born on September 21, 1921, in Clarksdale, MS... 1948 -signed with NY Giants, National Football League Rookie of the Year Award... 1950-first place in the NFL American Division and earned his first of two Pro Bowl honors…1954 Conerly led the Giants to their first NFL Championship title since the 1938 season, second Pro Bowl honor... 1959- voted NFL Most Valuable Player... 1962-Conerly's number 42 jersey retired... 1966 inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame…1967 inducted to the Ole Miss Athletic Hall of Fame... February 1996, Conerly passed away at the age of 74... Shortly after his passing, The Conerly Trophy was created in his name... Some notable recipients include Deuce McAllister and Eli Manning.

Charles "Charlie" Conerly was born on September 21, 1921, in Clarksdale, Mississippi. An all-around athlete in high school, Conerly received a scholarship to play football at the University of Mississippi in 1941. However, the attack on Pearl Harbor compelled Conerly to leave school at the conclusion of his freshman year to enlist in the Marine Corps.

In 1942, Conerly was sent to the Recruit Depot in San Diego to begin his training as a Heavy Machine Gunner. In December 1943, Conerly left San Diego aboard the U.S.S. George F. Elliott and sailed towards Guadalcanal in preparation for the initial offensive landing of Guam on July 21, 1944 and remained there until February 1945. Briefly, Conerly boarded the U.S.S. Frederick Funston and sailed toward Iwo Jima. After a week on board, the U.S.S. Frederick Funston headed back towards Guam to combat the remaining Japanese force on the island.

Conerly returned to the states and received an honorable discharge in December 1945, where he quickly resumed his college football career at Ole Miss. His time in the Pacific did not slow down the farmer from Clarksdale. While playing tailback and handling all of the passing chores for the Rebels, Conerly earned the All-South Eastern Conference Top Performer award in 1946 and was named team captain. During the 1947 season, Conerly set national collegiate records in passing yards, pass completions, and consecutive passes without an interception. Running for nine touchdowns and passing for 18, Conerly led the Rebels to their fist ever South Eastern Conference Title earning All-American Honors along the way. The 9-2 Rebels capped their season by defeating Texas Christian University in the Delta Bowl. Conerly was named the Helms Foundation Player of the Year and placed fourth in the Heisman Voting.

In 1948, Conerly signed with the New York Giants and was an immediate starter. That season, Conerly placed second in the league in all major categories including passing yards, touchdowns, and rating. Despite the Giants 4-8 record, Conerly received the National Football League Rookie of the Year Award.

By 1950, Conerly led the Giants to the playoffs by capturing first place in the NFL American Division and earned his first of two Pro Bowl honors. After the 1953 season, the Giants record worsened and led to a coaching change. Fed up with the relentless New York crowd, Conerly decided to retire from the game and return to his farm in Mississippi. The Giants hired Jim Lee Howell as their new head coach, who quickly hired Vince Lombardi as offensive coordinator. Howell paid Conerly a visit at his home and convinced him to return to the Giants for the 1954 season.

After converting Tom Landry from player to defensive coordinator and the emergence of Frank Gifford at halfback, the New York Giants had all the right pieces in place. Conerly led the Giants to their first NFL Championship title since the 1938 season in a 47-7 rout over the Chicago Bears. Conerly earned his second Pro Bowl honor and was named to the Sporting News 1st Team All-NFL.

The Giants returned to the championship game in 1958, losing to the Baltimore Colts in what was to become "The Greatest Game Ever Played". The nationally televised game featured twelve, future NFL Hall of Famers and marked the first time a championship game would enter into sudden death overtime. During the 1959 season, the 38-year-old Conerly led the NFL in passing and was named the league's Most Valuable Player. The Giants were back in a rematch at the championship game versus the Colts, but once again fell to Johnny Unitas and company.

In his final NFL season in 1961, the 40-year-old Conerly broke several Giants records in passing yards, touchdowns, games played, and attempts. The only player to surpass Conerly was Phil Simms during the 1980's and 1990's. New York retired Conerly' s number 42 jersey in 1962 and the College Football Hall of Fame inducted him in 1966. Conerly was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Ole Miss Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987. His 1947 Rebels were voted as the Ole Miss Team of the Century.

In February 1996, Conerly passed away at the age of 74. Shortly after his passing, The Conerly Trophy was created in his name and is presented to the top college football player in the state of Mississippi. Some notable recipients include Deuce McAllister and Eli Manning.