Did the Tar Heels invent the forward pass?
My Tar Heels had a rough day in football this weekend, losing to NC State by a point. But it was some small consolation to come across the suggestion that the Tar Heels invented the forward pass in the first place.
“Born near Greensboro, [George Stephens] had won fame as an athlete at the University of North Carolina, not only leading the baseball team to a championship but also making his mark in the fledgling sport of football. Football was still solely a running game in those days; but in one memorable 1895 contest a desperate teammate heaved the ball, and Stephens snatched it to win the day. ‘The lad who caught it ran seventy yards for a touchdown! I had seen the first forward pass in football,’ wrote football great John Heisman, who happened to be in the stands that day. Heisman pushed to add the invention to the official rulebook, and the forward pass revolutionized the sport.”
-Thomas W. Hanchett, in [tk italics] Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875-1975. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1998. (148)
Sports buffs, help me out here. Any problems with this account? Hanchett credits Mary Kratt and the awesome Lew Powell with digging up the story.