Heinie Benkert
Position:Running back
Personal information
Born:(1901-06-30)June 30, 1901
Newark, New Jersey
Died:July 15, 1972(1972-07-15) (aged 71)
Orange, New Jersey
Height:5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight:168 lb (76 kg)
Career information
High school:Newark (NJ) East Side
College:Rutgers
Career history
* New York Giants (1925)
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Henry Marvin "Heinie" Benkert (June 30, 1901 – July 15, 1972) was a professional American football running back who starred collegiately at Rutgers University, where he won the unofficial collegiate scoring crown as a senior, and played for four non-consecutive seasons in the National Football League, for the New York Giants, the Pottsville Maroons and the Orange/Newark Tornadoes.[1]

Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, Benkert received all-state honors at football while attending East Side High School in his hometown, before going on to play for the Rutgers University football team.[2] With 16 touchdowns and four extra points for the 1924 Rutgers Queensmen football team, Benkert led the nation's college football players in scoring, with a total of 100 points; his 16 touchdowns also led the nation.[3][4] His 1924 season included an October 4 game against Lebanon Valley College, won 56–0 by Rutgers, in which Benkert scored four touchdowns and kicked three extra points, scoring one of his touchdowns on an 86-yard run.[5] Benkert gained a total of 2,124 rushing yards in his three collegiate seasons from 1922 to 1924, making him the first Rutgers player to cross the 2,000-yard mark.[6]

After college, Benkert went professional, playing in the NFL for the New York Giants team that finished the season with an 8–4 record in its inaugural season in 1925, starting 10 of the team's 12 NFL games – typical of the less-regimented early barnstorming days in the league, the team played five games against non-league opponents -- and earning recognition as a first-team All-Pro by Collyer's Eye for his play that year.[1][7][8] He played for the Pottsville Maroons in 1926, starting four games and appearing in eight as the team finished with a 10–2–2 record, good for third place in the league.[1][9] In 1929 and 1930, Benkert played in New Jersey for the Tornados (the team moved from Orange to Newark in 1930), appearing in 13 games in his two seasons with the Tornados and also serving as a coach for a team that finished 3–5–4 in 1929 (in eighth place in the NFL among 12 teams) and 1–10–1 in 1930 (good for 11th, and last, place in the league).[1][2][10][11] Characteristic of the experimental nature of the early National Football League, the Tornados experimented with using letters instead of numbers on player jerseys in the 1929 season; Benkert wore the letter "C" on his uniform in a game against the Frankford Yellow Jackets, while Johnny Tomaini had the letter "X" on his jersey.[12]

After finishing his professional football career, Benkert went on to teach history and coach football at Orange High School in Orange, New Jersey, until his retirement from the school in 1971.[2] He was a member of the football coaching staff at Rutgers in the 1940s.[13]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Heinie Benkert, Pro-Football-Reference.com. Accessed January 17, 2018. "Born: June 30, 1901 in Newark, NJ... High School: East Side (NJ)"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Staff. "Heinie Benkert, 71, Played Halfback for Giants in 20's", The New York Times, July 17, 1972. Accessed January 17, 2018. "Henry (Heinie) Benkert, halfback in the 1920's for the New York Giants football team, died here yesterday. He was 71 years old. Mr. Benkert was a star in the early 1920's at Rutgers University, which he attended after winning all‐state honors in New Jersey on the Newark East Side High School team."
  3. "Benkert, Rutgers Star, Holds Lead in Scoring Race", Reading Times, December 1, 1924. Accessed January 17, 2018. "He was unable, however, to overtake Heinie Benkert, and the Rutgers backfield marvel leads the final list with an even 100, the only player to reach the three-figure class."
  4. Staff. "Benkert Captures 1924 Scoring Title; Rutgers Star, With 100 Points, Leads in East – Borell Ties McBride for Second With 90.", The New York Times, December 1, 1924. Accessed January 17, 2018. "Heinie Benkert's total of an even 100 points stood up during the past week as the highest mark registered by any player on the leading Eastern football teams during the season which came to a close last Saturday, and the Rutgers star takes the place occupied in 1923 by George Pfann of Cornell as the high scorer of the year."
  5. Staff. "Rutgers Crushes Lebanon Valley; Triumphs, 56 to 0, Before Crowd of 6,000 – Benkert Runs 86 Yards for Touchdown.", The New York Times, October 5, 1924. Accessed January 17, 2018. "Heinie Benkert, veteran Rutgers back, who today contributed four touchdowns and three subsequent placement kicks for a total of 27 points, covered himself with glory during the second period."
  6. Harvin, Al. "Rutgers Trounces Colgate", The New York Times, November 23, 1975. Accessed January 17, 2018. "The three 2,000 yard career men are Jennings, 2,934 (1971–73); Mitchell (2,286) ‘66–'68 and Heinie Benkert 2,124 from 1922 through 24."
  7. 1925 NFL All-Pros, Pro-Football-Reference.com. Accessed January 17, 2018.
  8. 1925 New York Giants Statistics & Players, Pro-Football-Reference.com. Accessed January 17, 2018.
  9. 1926 Pottsville Maroons Statistics & Players, Pro-Football-Reference.com. Accessed January 17, 2018.
  10. 1929 Orange Tornadoes Statistics & Players, Pro-Football-Reference.com. Accessed January 17, 2018.
  11. 1930 Newark Tornadoes Statistics & Players, Pro-Football-Reference.com. Accessed January 17, 2018.
  12. Daly, Dan. The National Forgotten League: Entertaining Stories and Observations from Pro Football's First Fifty Years, p. 38. University of Nebraska Press, 2012. ISBN 9780803244603. Accessed January 17, 2018. "Case in point: the 1929 Orange Tornadoes. The Tornadoes didn't wear numbers on their jerseys, they wore letters. Here's their lineup for the first of two games against the Frankford Yellow Jackets:... C - Heinie Benkert, B, Rutgers"
  13. Rutgers Football 1869–1949: Eighty Years on the Gridiron, Rutgers Scarlet Knights football. Accessed January 17, 2018. "Henry Benkert, Junior Varsity Coach... He spent a number of years in pro football and high school coaching before returning to Rutgers as a coach in 1941–42."

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