Football Killed Him, Not His Legacy

Forum Forum Lehigh Sports Lehigh Football Football Killed Him, Not His Legacy

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    His death was front-page news, sharing space just below Wilmington’s Every Evening masthead March 2, 1915, with reports of statewide alcohol prohibition, World War I and a plot to blow up St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

    Robert Tong Layfield had become a sympathetic figure 100 years ago through the simple act of playing in a college football game.

    The 19-year-old Johns Hopkins University freshman sought to make a touchdown-preventing tackle in the game against Lehigh at Taylor Stadium in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 31, 1914.

    He succeeded. But the Wilmington Friends School graduate also sustained a broken back that instantly paralyzed him from the chest down. What followed were four months of physical discomfort somehow made more tolerable — for both Layfield and the family, friends, teammates, opponents and many admirers who lended support — by the injured player’s sunny outlook, which belied his eventual fate.

    Layfield’s tragic plight and heroic stoicism brought acclaim in Wilmington, where his funeral was part spectacle, and in Baltimore, where he was soon memorialized on his college campus.

    The 1915 Johns Hopkins Hullabaloo, the school yearbook, referred to the “plucky little football martyr” who, in the face of death, exhibited “indomitable courage, unquenchable optimism and determined will.”…

    Full story at the link.

    • This topic was modified 6 years, 1 month ago by  superman7515.
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