Davey O'Brien
Davey O'Brien.jpg
Personal information
Date of birth: (1917-06-22)June 22, 1917
Place of birth: Dallas, Texas
Date of death: November 18, 1977(1977-11-18) (aged 60)
Place of death: Fort Worth, Texas
Height: 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) Weight: 151 lb (68 kg)
Career information
College: Texas Christian
NFL Draft: 1939 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
Debuted in 1939 for the [[{{{debutteam}}}]]
Last played in 1940 for the [[{{{finalteam}}}]]
Career history
* Philadelphia Eagles ( 1939- 1940)
Career highlights and awards
* Pro Bowl selection (1939)
TDs-INTs     11-34
Passing yards     2,614
Passer rating     41.8
Stats at
College Football Hall of Fame

Robert David O'Brien (June 22, 1917 – November 18, 1977) was an American football quarterback in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles. He played college football at Texas Christian University and was drafted in the first round (fourth overall) of the 1939 NFL Draft. In 1938, O'Brien won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award. The Davey O'Brien Award, given annually to the best quarterback in collegiate football, is named for him.

Early lifeEdit

O'Brien was born in Dallas, Texas. He attended and played high school football at Woodrow Wilson High School. While there, he was an All-State selection and led the high school to the Texas state playoffs in 1932.[1]

College careerEdit

O'Brien began playing college football at Texas Christian University (TCU) in 1935, and was backup for Sammy Baugh. He became the starter in 1937, and was named to the first-team All-Southwest Conference.[1]

In 1938, O’Brien threw for 1,457 passing yards — a Southwest Conference record that stood for ten years. He had only four interceptions in 194 passing attempts, and his NCAA record for most rushing and passing plays in a single season still stands today.[1] That season, he led the Horned Frogs to an undefeated season, as they outscored their opponents by a 269-60 margin and held nine of their ten regular-season opponents to seven points or less, including three shutouts.[1] They finished the season with a 15–7 victory over Carnegie Tech in the 1939 Sugar Bowl and the National Championship title.[1] O’Brien was named to 13 All-America teams and became the first player to win the Heisman, Maxwell and Walter Camp trophies in the same year. He was also the first Heisman winner from TCU, and the first from the Southwest Conference.[1] Off the field, he was also an honorary member Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, Texas Gamma chapter.


Year Comp Att Comp % Passing TD
1937 96 237 40.5 947 5
1938 93 166 56.0 1457 19

Professional careerEdit

O'Brien was drafted in the first round (fourth overall) of the 1939 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, who gave him a $12,000 bonus and a two-year contract. In his first season in the NFL, he led the NFL in passing yards as a rookie with 1,324 yards in 11 games,[2] breaking his old TCU teammate Sammy Baugh's single season passing yardage record. In 1940 he again led the league in several passing categories, including attempts and completions.[2] The Eagles gave him a $2,000 raise, but he retired after the 1940 season.[1]

In his professional career, O'Brien completed 223 of 478 passes for 2,614 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was also a defensive back and punter, intercepted four passes for 92 yards and punted nine times for an average of 40.7 yards per kick.[2]

Life after footballEdit

After two seasons with the Eagles, O'Brien retired from football to become an agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he worked for ten years. After completing his training, he was assigned to the bureau’s field office in Springfield, Missouri. He was a firearms instructor at Quantico, Virginia, and spent the last five years of his FBI career in Dallas.[1] He resigned from the bureau in 1950 and went to work for H. L. Hunt in land development. He later entered the oil business, working for Dresser Atlas Industries of Dallas.[1] He was also president of the TCU Alumni Association, a YMCA board member, a chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, a supporter of Golden Gloves youth boxing programs, and a deacon of University Christian Church. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955 and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1956. From 1960–1964, he was the color commentator on Dallas Cowboys telecasts.

In 1971 he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery to remove a kidney and part of his right lung, but eventually died from the disease on November 18, 1977.[1]

O'Brien's 1938, and Tim Brown's 1987, Heisman Trophy awards gave Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas the distinction of being the first to produce two Heisman winners.

In 1989, O'Brien (posthumously) and Brown were inducted together into Woodrow Wilson High School's newly created Hall of Fame in celebration of the school's 60th anniversary.


External linksEdit

Template:TCU Horned Frogs quarterback navbox

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