Gaynell Tinsley
Date of birth: February 1, 1915
Place of birth: Ruple, Louisiana
Date of death: July 24, 2002(2002-07-24) (aged 87)
Place of death: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Career information
Position(s): End
College: LSU
NFL Draft: 1937 / Round: 2 / Pick: 12
 As player:
1937–1938, 1940 Chicago Cardinals
Career highlights and awards
Honors: NFL 1930s All-Decade Team
Playing stats at
College Football Hall of Fame

Gaynell Charles "Gus" Tinsley (February 1, 1915 – July 24, 2002) was an American football end and coach. He was a consensus All-American for Louisiana State in 1935 and 1936 and an All-NFL selection while playing for the Chicago Cardinals in 1937 and 1938. During his three years in the NFL, Tinsley set or tied NFL single-season records with 674 receiving yards in 1937 and 41 pass receptions in 1938. He later served as the head football coach at LSU from 1948–1954.

College football All-AmericanEdit

Tinsley was born in Ruple, Louisiana and raised in Homer, Louisiana in the northern part of the state. He attended Louisiana State University where he played football and baseball and was selected as the captain of both teams.[1] He was considered one of the greatest receivers in college football, earning consensus All-American honors in both 1935 and 1936. As a junior in 1935, Tinsley was named as a first-team All-American by the Associated Press,[2] United Press,[3] Liberty Magazine (selected based on a poll of 1,521 varsity players in all parts of the country),[4] Collier's Weekly,[5] the Newspaper Editors Association,[6] the International News Service,[7] and the New York Sun.[8] In 1936, Tinsley repeated as a first-team All-American with each of these publications and also received the first-team designation from the Central Press Association (selected by the captains of more than 50 college football teams at "important universities and colleges throughout the United States"),[9] and the Walter Camp Football Foundation.[10]

Tinsley's profile at the College Football Hall of Fame describes him this way: "Tinsley was a magnificent athletic specimen, standing 6-0, and weighing 196-pounds, size he used equally well as a defensive stalwart who was a blocking master."[1] As a sophomore in 1934, Tinsley had a 65-yard pass reception (thrown by halfback Abe Mickal) against Southern Methodist University, which stood as a record for several years as "the longest pass in Southern football history."[1] Tinsley's coach at LSU, Bernie Moore, once said, "Tinsley could have made All-American at any position. He was so tough, he made blockers quit. He's the greatest lineman I ever saw."[11]

Tinsley concluded his college career by playing in an annual game between the college all-stars and an NFL team. Tinsley scored the only points of the game on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Sammy Baugh, as the college players defeated the Green Bay Packers, 6-0.[11]

In 1993, LSU selected its all-time team as part of the celebration of the centennial of LSU football. Tinsley was "the only unanimous choice" for LSU's "Early Years Team of the Century."[11] Upon his death in 2002, LSU Sports described his contributions to the school's football teams of the mid-1930s as follows:

"Tinsley is widely considered to be among the finest athletes to ever play at LSU. The star end led the Tigers to their first two SEC titles and played in two Sugar Bowls. He earned All-SEC and All-American honors in 1935-36 for his ability to dominate a game on both sides of the ball. In 1936, he was also second in balloting for national MVP honors. ... At 6-3, 215 pounds, Tinsley was considered to the prototype end of his era because of his mobility."[11]

Professional football playerEdit

Tinsley was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals as the 12th overall pick in the 1937 NFL Draft. He played for the Cardinals for three years in 1937, 1938 and 1940. As a rookie in 1937, Tinsley set an NFL record with 675 receiving yards,[11] and had the longest reception in the NFL at 97 yards.[12] He also ranked among the NFL's 1937 leaders in several categories, including 36 receptions (2nd in the NFL), 675 receiving yards (1st in the NFL), 677 total yards from scrimmage (2nd in the NFL), five receiving touchdowns (2nd in the NFL), 18.8 yards per reception (1st in the NFL) and 61.4 receiving yards per game (1st in the NFL).[12] At the end of the 1937 season, Tinsley was selected as a first-team all-NFL player by the United Press, the NFL, the New York Daily News, and Collyers Eye Magazine.[12]

In 1938, Tinsley continued as one of the league's top receivers, and he was selected as a first-team NFL 1938 All-Pro player. His 41 receptions in 1938 tied the all-time NFL single-season record, and he once again had the longest pass reception in the 1938 NFL season at 98 yards.[12] He also ranked among the 1938 league leaders with 516 receiving yards (2nd in the NFL) and 46.9 yards per game (4th in the NFL). He was selected again selected as a first-team all-NFL player, this time receiving the honor from the Pro Football Writers, the NFL and Collyers Eye Magazine.[12]

When Tinsley retired, he ranked fourth in NFL history in pass receptions, despite having played only three seasons of professional football.[11]

Coaching careerEdit

After service in the U.S. Navy, Tinsley worked as a high school football coach in Haynesville, Louisiana.[11] He then served as an assistant football coach at LSU through the 1947 season. In 1948, LSU's long-time football coach, Bernie Moore, retired, and Tinsley was hired to replace his former mentor. In 1949, Tinsley's team finished the regular season 8–2 and played in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma.[11] Tinsley's LSU teams never met with the same success they had achieved in 1949. In seven years as head coach at LSU, Tinsley's teams compiled a record of 35–34–6.[13] Displeased with the team's performance, the LSU board of supervisors fired Tinsley in February 1955, though they agreed to pay his salary of $12,500 per year for the two remaining years on his contract.[13] After the vote to remove him, Tinsley said, "I have not made any future plans as yet, but I do know that I will continue to help LSU whenever and wherever I can."[13]

Later yearsEdit

Tinsley died in 2002 at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at age 87.[11]

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs AP#
Louisiana College Wildcats (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1937–1938)
1937 Louisiana College 3–6
1938 Louisiana College 4–4–1
Louisiana College: 7–10–1
LSU Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (1948–1954)
1948 LSU 3–7 1–5 T–10th
1949 LSU 8–3 4–2 5th L Sugar 9
1950 LSU 4–5–2 2–3–2 T–7th
1951 LSU 7–3–1 4–2–1 T–3rd
1952 LSU 3–7 2–5 10th
1953 LSU 5–3–3 2–3–3 8th
1954 LSU 5–6 2–5 9th
LSU: 35–34–6 17–25–6
Total: 42–44–7
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final AP Poll.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Gaynell Tinsley". College Football Hall of Fame.
  2. Alan Gould (1935-12-07). "Lutz, Grayson Only Coast Stars On A.P. All-American: FOUR SOUTHERN ACES GIVEN LAURELS". Oakland Tribune.
  3. Stuart Cameron (1935-11-29). "Grayson On U.P. All-American Team: MOSCRIP AND LUTZ PLACED ON RESERVES". Oakland Tribune.
  4. "Bobby Wilson Named Liberty All-Players' All-America Eleven". Galveston Daily News. 1935-12-31.
  5. "Inwood Smith Selected For Collier's 'American: Ohio State Guard One of Three Middlewestern Players Honored; Year Termed 'Greatest'". Circleville Herald. 1935-12-12.
  6. Bernard Bierman (1935-12-02). "Here's NEA'S 1935 All-America Team". Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune.
  7. Davis Walsh (INS Sports Editor) (1935-12-05). "Walsh's National Eleven Leaves Ohio Out in Cold: Both Minnesota Tackles Chosen; Backfield Includes Smith, Berwanger, Wilson and Grayson". Circleville Herald.
  8. "Reynolds Gets All-Star Post". Oakland Tribune. 1935-12-08.
  9. Bill Braucher (1936-12-05). "YANKEE TEAMS STEP OUT IN ALL-STAR VOTING: Playing Captains Pick Top Warriors". Post-Herald (WV).
  10. "Walter Camp Football Foundation".
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 "LSU's First All-American, Former Coach Gus Tinsley Dies". LSU Sports.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 "Gaynell Tinsley".
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "LSU Shakes Up Athletic Department: Head Grid Coach Tinsley Fired". Council Bluffs Nonpareil. 1955-02-06.

External linksEdit

Template:Louisiana College Wildcats football coach navbox

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