American Football Database
Johnny Lattner
Johnny Lattner in Oak Park, Illinois 2004
Date of birth: (1932-10-24) October 24, 1932 (age 89)
Place of birth: Chicago, Illinois
Career information
Position(s): Halfback
College: Notre Dame
NFL Draft: 1954 / Round: 1 / Pick 7
 As player:
1954 Pittsburgh Steelers
Career highlights and awards
Pro Bowls: 1
Awards: 1952 Maxwell Award
1953 Maxwell Award
1953 Heisman Trophy
Playing stats at
College Football Hall of Fame

John Joseph "Johnny" Lattner (born October 24, 1932) is a former American football player. While playing college football for the University of Notre Dame, he won the Heisman Trophy in 1953. He also won the Maxwell Award twice, in 1952 and 1953. Lattner played one season in the National Football League for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1954.

Football career

Lattner attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois.[1] Fenwick, along with other Chicago-area Catholic schools, was a breeding ground for Notre Dame and Big Ten football programs, and Lattner held offers from top college football programs across the country. He initially considered the University of Michigan because head coach Bennie Oosterbaan ran the single wing offense, a scheme that fit Lattner well at Fenwick. Lattner eventually chose Notre Dame, which offered a Catholic education and the highest level of competition.[2]

Lattner played halfback for the University of Notre Dame under head coach Frank Leahy from 1950 to 1953. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1953, and won the Maxwell Award twice, in 1952 and 1953. In 1953, the Irish went 9–0–1, finishing second to Maryland in the final Associated Press poll. Lattner rushed for 651 yards (averaging 4.9 yards per carry) and scored nine touchdowns, caught 14 passes for 204 yards, had four interceptions and tallied two TDs on only 10 kickoff returns.[3]

Lattner appeared on the cover of Time Magazine on November 9, 1953 with the caption "a bread and butter ball carrier", a phrase bestowed upon Lattner by Leahy.[4]

In 1954, Lattner was drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but played with them for only one season before entering the United States Air Force for two years. There, during a football game, he suffered a severe knee injury that prevented him from ever playing professional football again. Lattner's single season in Pittsburgh was a success, as he totaled over 1,000 all purpose yards on offense and special teams. As a result, he was named to the NFL 1954 Pro Bowl as a kick and punt returner.[5]

Lattner coached for a period in the late 50's, at St. Joseph High School[disambiguation needed ] and the University of Denver.[6] His coaching career ended in 1961 when Denver cut it's football program.[2]

Lattner was elected to the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1979.[7]


An Oak Park resident for most of his life, Lattner currently lives in Melrose Park, Illinois and resides in Anna Maria Island, Florida during the winter months. He recently served as vice president of sales at PAL Graphics Inc. in Broadview, Illinois.[2]

An Irish Catholic,[2] Lattner has been a longtime participant in the Chicago Saint Patrick's Day Parade, often carrying the banner of Saint Patrick.[8] The Chicago Tribune noted that nobody "out-Irished" Lattner, who also sports a kilt and green stockings for the festivities.[9]

In 1962, Lattner opened Johnny Lattner's Steakhouse on Madison Street in Chicago. An electrical fire in 1968 severely damaged the restaurant and claimed 3 lives. Lattner's Heisman Trophy was on display in the restaurant and was destroyed in the fire. Lattner sent the Downtown Athletic Club a check for $300 along with newspaper coverage of the fire and received a replacement.[10] A fire four years earlier had ended better for Lattner. While driving home from work in the early morning of November 17, 1963, he spotted a fire in an apartment building on the west side of Chicago. He called the fire department, then roused 25 residents from one of the buildings and carried a five-year-old girl to safety. He was credited with helping 40 people escape injury.[10] Lattner later operated a second restaurant at Marina City from 1968–1972.[2]

Lattner routinely rents out his Heisman Trophy to tailgates and other events with the proceeds donated to charity. Lattner himself claims that he is not really sure where the trophy could be at any given moment.[2][10]

At halftime during Fenwick's 2007 game versus Hubbard at Soldier Field, Lattner's #34 Jersey was retired.

Lattner has twenty-five grandchildren, several of whom have also played football for Fenwick High School.[11] Robert Spillane, a class of 2013 graduate, is currently committed to play football at Western Michigan University.[12]

See also


External links

Template:Oak Park, Illinois