Wednesday, January 9, 2008
RIP Jim Dooley (1930-2008)
Jim Dooley, one of Miami's greatest football legends and sports pioneers , passed away yesterday after battling Lou Gehrig's disease for the last few years. Dooley was the first consensus All American in University of Miami football history in 1951. He also became the first UM player to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and the first UM player to have his jersey number retired. In 1997, Dooley was inducted into UM's Ring of Honor at the Orange Bowl.
Born James William Dooley in Stoutsville, Missouri, he moved to Miami as a boy and later became one of the city's great schoolboy athletes while attending Miami Senior High School. As a senior at Miami High in 1947, Dooley led the Stingarees to a 9-1 record and the state championship while playing halfback on both offense and defense. He was named All City and All State, while playing for head coach George Trogdon. At the time, Miami High was one of the nation's top high school programs and scheduled teams from 5 different states during Dooley's senior year.
He chose to stay home and play his college football at the University of Miami and then head coach Andy Gustafson. During his junior year in 1950, Dooley led the Canes to an upset victory over then #1 ranked Purdue at West Lafayette, Indiana. The victory sparked a huge celebration in Miami which saw thousands of fans greet the team upon their arrival at the Miami International Airport. The Canes went on to play Clemson in the 1951 Orange Bowl Classic, losing 15-14 after Miami's Frank Smith was tackled in the end zone for a safety late in the 4th quarter.
Dooley was a true 60-minute player and played both offense and defense as a junior and senior. He was the first UM player to rush for over 1,000 yards in his career and set a UM bowl record with 4 interceptions vs. Clemson in the 1952 Gator Bowl. In 1951, Dooley intercepted 10 passes--a school record that has since been tied by Bennie Blades and the late Sean Taylor.
He was selected in the first round by the Chicago Bears in the 1952 NFL Draft and played 10 seasons from 1952-1961. As a rookie he played defense, intercepting 5 passes. But in 1953, he became more of an offensive specialist, playing wide receiver. He finished his pro career with 211 career catches for 3,172 yards and 16 touchdowns. In 1968, Dooley succeeded George Halas as Bears head coach and compiled a 20-36 record from 1968-71. He spent the next 30 years working in the Bears organization as assistant coach and a team executive.
Jim Dooley is survived by his wife, daughter, four sons and 16 grandchildren. He was 77 years old.