William Hanford "Big Bill" Edwards
Date of birth: (1877-02-23)February 23, 1877
Place of birth: Lisle, New York
Date of death: January 4, 1943(1943-01-04) (aged 65)
Place of death: New York, New York
Career information
Position(s): Guard
College: Princeton University
 As player:
1896–1899 Princeton
College Football Hall of Fame

William Hanford "Big Bill" Edwards (February 23, 1877 – January 4, 1943) was an American football player who played guard at the Princeton University from 1896 to 1899. After graduation he became an official, and in 1916 wrote a book entitled Football Days, which is perhaps the most extensive first-hand account of American college football in the 19th century.[1]


In 1906, Edwards was the referee for the first game of the "Ohio League" championship between the Canton Bulldogs and the Massillon Tigers. The events surrounding the two clubs during this two game series later resulted in the first major scandal in professional football in the United States, and more notably the first known case of professional gamblers attempting to fix a professional sport. During the scandal, members of the Bulldogs were accused of throwing the championship to the Tigers. While Edwards officiated the first game of the series, he was unavailable to referee the second game because he'd be officiating that year's Harvard–Yale game.[2]

In 1910, he averted an attempt on the life of New York mayor William Gaynor by tackling the assailant and incurring a flesh wound in the arm in the process. For his heroism, Edwards was awarded the Carnegie Medal for Heroism.[3]

Later that decade, US President Woodrow Wilson appointed Edwards as Collector of Internal Revenue for New York's Second District.[3]

Edwards was deputy of street cleaning in New York before becoming chief of waste disposal at nearby Newark, New Jersey.[4] In 1926, Edwards became the first president of the first American Football League, which disbanded at the end of the season. Fourteen years later, his name was mentioned as a possible president of the third AFL at the press conference announcing the formation of the league, but he did not serve in that position.

He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

See also


  1. [1]
  2. "Blondy Wallace and the Biggest Football Scandal Ever". PFRA Annual (Professional Football Researchers Association) 5: 1–16. 1984. http://www.profootballresearchers.org/Coffin_Corner/06-An-209.pdf.
  3. 3.0 3.1 College Football Hall of Fame biography of Big Bill Edwards
  4. George Gipe, The Great American Sports Book (Doubleday 1978) ISBN 0-385-13091-0

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