Dear Friends of

I want to share this brief interview about Hugh L. Ray, and review of “THE NFL’S MR. EINSTEIN” that appears in the current issue of GRIDIRON GREATS MAGAZINE.

On the day before the Super Bowl I think its appropriate and fair to say, that without Ray’s tireless efforts and hundreds of innovative rules that transformed football into a safer, more exciting game, its quite possible we would not be enjoying this amazing cultural phenomenon and celebration of our most popular national sport.

Both teams are excellent and well-matched, so it should be a very exciting game. I wish we could all enjoy it together.

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Best wishes,





NFL History magazine

NFL History magazine


NFL History

NFL History


Hugh L. Ray continued



Hugh L. Ray Review


Ever since American Rugby Football began in 1876 it’s been about winning. Coaches have always skirted the rules in order to gain an advantage. By 1890 it was common for coaches to salt their teams with gifted “graduate student-athletes.” When Walter Camp,”The Father of American Football” and Yale’s coach suggested strict eligibility rules to outlawed this, the other teams in the league formed a new they could continue the practice.

The pressure to win in college football has resulted in an endless saga of recruiting and educational abuses.The early NFL was regularly vilified for secretly using ineligible college players on Sundays before they had graduated. This reached a high point in 1925 when George Halas signed Red Grange, the greatest college player of all-time to a $100,000 contract the day after his season at Illinois was over to play for the Chicago Bears and go on a cross-country tour. This and many other blatant violations of the eligibility rules rocked the college game and led to their deep-seated hatred of the NFL that did not end until the 1950’s.

Today things are no different. Considering the stakes the pressure to win is greater. We’ve witnessed “Bountygate,” “Spygate,” and most recently “Deflategate.” These practices and otters like them are not isolated incidents, they represent the teams who got caught not the magnitude of problem. From many reliable accounts the manipulation of the ball’s pressure and condition are common-place since teams were given responsibility for supplying and safeguarding their game-day footballs.

The NFL’s kicking balls are closely regulated by the league and its officials. This protocol should be the same for game-day footballs in order to insure fairness and the integrity of the game.

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read “THE NFL’S MR. EINSTEIN” or visit


“Hugh L. (Shorty) Ray began his 37th year as a teacher in the Chicago public high schools the other day. There was no celebration Ray simply went about his work as a mechanical drawing teacher at Harrison—he did that is, if he wasn’t doing one of the following things:

Interpreting a rules for the National Football League; the National Federation of High Schools, or maybe some coach in far-off Oregon. Or perhaps writing a rules book; drawing up an officials exam; giving the exam, acting as chairman of a sports committee, compiling statistics and just about anything else that might be included under sports.

Shorty Ray, you see, is a one-man dynamo, and as such he helped organize the Chicago Public High School League in 1912….It was back in his college days at Illinois, 1904-07, that Ray first became interested in rules. He had been a great athlete in football, track. baseball and basketball under George Huff who was a stickler for having his players well versed in the rules. Shorty liked that…The versatile teacher is the only Big Ten official ever to work three sports–baseball, basketball and football.

Right now [1946] he is interested in football injuries, how they occur and how they can be cut down by changes in the rules. Since 1929, rules changes suggested by Ray have cut football injuries by 70 per cent.”

More can be learned about “Hugh L. Ray. THE NFL’S MR. EINSTEIN:Master Designer of the Modern Game” by James W. Stangeland, or
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This article was written by Harold Butchin of the Chicago Times, predecessor to the Chicago Sun-Times. Copyright (c) 1946 Chicago Sun-Times.


Hugh L. Ray - Master Designer of the Modern Game.

Hugh L. Ray – Master Designer of the Modern Game.


Hugh Ray was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for “his outstanding contributions to the rules of professional football.” At that time the Hall called Ray the “Rules Book Author.” These are some key quotes from his original HOF Biography which has been changed drastically since 1966 in a disturbing case of historical revisionism.

“Many insist that Ray is pro football’s ‘unknown hero’ who saved the game from extinction half a century ago and played the major role in making the sport the fast-paced, wide-open game of today.” “The National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations asked Ray to write a football code. It was a masterpiece, a model for all future rule books at every level.” “When Ray retired because of failing health in 1952 Halas was among many who lauded his efforts. ‘I’ve always thought my finest contribution to pro football was bringing Shorty Ray into the NFL.’”

Since 1978 the Pro Football Hall of Fame has deleted its reference to Ray as the “Rules Book Author” and Ray’s Biography has been severely diminished. It appears that power, money, greed and some large egos are behind this blatant revisionism. I discovered that Hugh L. Ray owned the copyright to the rules though his vast body of work. I believe this explains some of Ray’s scandalous treatment. The Hall of Fame for any sport should be an unimpeachable repository of its history. Not some vehicle for powerful owners and league bosses to control.

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If you would like to learn more about American football history and this great rules visionary, read “Hugh L. Ray, THE NFL’S MR. EINSTEIN: Master Designer of the Modern Game” by James W. Stangeland, available or visit

Charlotte J. Ray with the bust of her late husband Hugh L. Ray at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, September 17, 1966.

Copyright © Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Hugh "Shorty" Ray

Hugh “Shorty” Ray


The Packers humbled Seattle on both sides of the ball for the first 55 minutes of their NFC title game. With five minutes left in the 4th Quarter Packers Coach Mike McCarthy choose to play conservatively and opened the door for the Seahawks to find their 12th man and missing mojo. In a meltdown of momentous proportions the Packers watched Seattle scored two quick TD’s and a two-point conversion before Green Bay tied things up with a Field Goal. Seattle won the Sudden-Death coin-toss, elected to receive and scored a perfectly executed touchdown pass on their first play to win the game 28-22.

Later, at Gillette Stadium the Patriots embarrassed and shut-down the inconsistent Colts for four full quarters 45-7. New England’s utter domination of Indianapolis has made me change my Super Bowl prediction. If Green Bay can make Seattle look like a college team for 55 minutes, Bill Belichick and his indomitable Patriots.can do the same and win.

The NFL should change their Sudden Death Playoff Rules so that both teams have a chance to score a touchdown. A game of this magnitude should not be decided by a coin-toss.

Football for the Fans

Who could have ever imagined the spectacular football played during the 1948 NFL season would set a scoring record of 46.5 points a game, a record that would last 65 years? The most important record in the NFL Record Manual was finally surpassed during the 2013 season, when average points per game totaled 46.8.

Hugh Ray, the modest teacher with an engineer’s mind and sublime gift the rules understood that good things would happen if the game was designed for the safety of its players and excitement of its fans. Under Ray’s redesign of the rules average touchdowns per game tripled from two to six a game. Interestingly, among all the shrewd NFL owners, George Halas said “Shorty Ray was the first to realize that attendance rose with an increase in offense.”

Ray’s concept of “Football For The Fans” quickly became the essential DNA for the NFL. He constantly told the owners “It must be remembered that touchdowns produce the thrills that stir the hearts and minds of football fans.”

Today, Ray’s clarity of purpose and vision live on. The NFL is the most successful and exciting sports conference in the world. It is a high respected global brand.because of its laser focus on the quality of its product and its consummate ability to manage, market, and monetize its unrivaled sports entertainment.

Learn more about “Football for the Fans,” read “THE NFL’S MR. EINSTEIN” at and visit or click “shop now” above in profile.

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Hugh L. Ray in Los Angeles,1947


In a topsy-turvy Saturday game Tom Brady and the Patriots overcame two 14 point deficits to defeat Joe Flacco and and a tough Raven team 35-31 at home. Later Seattle swamped the Panthers 31-17 with Russell Wilson, a savage defense, and the 12th man in attendance at CenturyLink Field.

Sunday saw more of the same at historic Lambeau as the Packers battled back to beat the resilient Cowboys 26-21. The exception was Peyton Manning and the lethargic Broncos who looked like they were playing in slow-motion while losing 24-13 against Andrew Luck and a swarming Colt defense.

Next weekend the Packers meet the Seahawks in Seattle. It should be a great game but with Rogers playing with one good leg–advantage Seahawks and their 12th man. The Colts have been the real surprise of the playoffs but can they do it again in Foxborough? I think not. Bill Belichick and the Patriots usually figure out a way to win at home.

Seattle is playing the best football in the NFL— only a minor miracle will stop them from taking home a second consecutive Lombardi Trophy.


Aside from inventing modern football, Hugh “Shorty” Ray was an outstanding athlete, teacher, coach, and official. Ray was “rated the best official in the Mid-West for over 30 years, and he is still the only man ever to officiate in three major sports in the Big Ten: football, baseball, and basketball.”

By 1925, football’s needless injuries, deaths, and the haphazard handling of games by his fellow officials forced him to take action. He gathered his colleagues into the American Officials Association he founded in 1917. Surprisingly football’s revolution started among the zebras–the executors of football law.

Ray forced his proteges to write a report on each game, he conducted the first rules interpretation meetings, and led rules clinics in which officials took examinations. These quickly became required courses for all officials He insisted that officials become absolute masters of the rules book. “Ray’s men became famous overnight. Coaches and athletic directors all over America had head of the ‘Chicago Experiment.'”

In 1930 Ray invented and copyrighted “FOOTBALL RULES THRU PLAY SITUATIONS” which taught the rules by example and is still universally used. In 1932 Ray issued the first set of modern “safety rules” and Rules Book. The Pro Football Hall of Fame said of his Rules Book, “It was a masterpiece, a model for all future rule books at every level.”

Would Ray be upset by the terrible officiating that took place in last weeks’ Cowboys–Lions game? You bet he would. There is no excuse for that kind of ineptitude in the NFL and it cost the Lions a hard-fought, well-deserved win.

If you would like to learn more about Hugh L. Ray, The Father of Modern American Football,read “THE NFL’S MR. EINSTEIN” by James W. Stangeland, available at or

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Top picture, Ray explains position of Referee to NFL Commissioner Elmer Layden. Bottom picture, Ray demonstrates what constitutes legal and illegal treatment of a passer under his rules to George Halas (far left) and the Chicago Bears. Copyright (c) The Washington Post 1941


Hugh "Shorty" Ray

Hugh “Shorty” Ray



Bert Bell the strong-willed NFL Commissioner from 1946-1959 coined the iconic phrase “On any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team.” There is no better showcase for this than the NFL Playoffs. The Wild-Card round featured three smack-downs and a questionable squeaker. On Saturday the Panthers schooled Arizona, and the Ravens dominated the once-resurgent Steelers. Sunday was no different—the Colts got their act together and dominated the Bengals. The most competitive game was in Texas. Detroit almost beat Dallas but a botched pass-interference call and poor officiating mechanics left viewers wondering and gave Tony Romo the chance to win.

Next week in the Divisional Playoffs is where the rubber meets the road. There will be few upsets with the wild-card winners trying their luck against the Patriots at home on Saturday and Broncos on Sunday. Nothing beats the NFL Playoffs–its the best football of the season.

Bert Bell entered the NFL in 1933 as the co-owner and coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.He began working with Hugh Ray on the rules at owners meetings and subsequent Rules Committee meetings. Bell like Halas and Lambeau understood that it was the rules that make the game go. They encouraged Shorty Ray’s vision for a faster more high scoring game by voting for his innovative rules..

On July 21, 1947 Bell wrote Ray saying, “Again may I say what a great job you are doing and how much both the League Members and myself appreciate your work and your loyalty to the League and myself. It has been an honor and privilege for me to be associated with you.”

Learn more about America’s greatest rules genius and football history, read ‘THE NFL’S MR. EINSTEIN” by James W. Stangeland, available or

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Picture: Hugh Ray hard at work on the NFL rules.


Hugh L. Ray


Why does the NFL, NCAA, and NFHS continue to omit Hugh L. Ray their self-serving histories?

It was Ray’s unique vision for the game, and his brilliant playing rules that saved American football from its dark days of death and destruction. Without any fanfare, this soft-spoken rules genius worked quietly and relentlessly reinventing football from 1929-1952 for the high schools, colleges, and pros by changing its design and destiny.

Due to its once-imperious attitude and prejudiced history, the NCAA has never acknowledged Ray’s great contributions to its game. Since his death in 1956, Ray’s legacy and body of work have been appropriated and marginalized by his closest rules assistants and their organizations. The three major football conferences he did so much to organize, improve, and elevate have closed ranks, acting as if he never existed. A former protege at the NFHS who became its leader took credit for Ray’s playing rules and Rule Books. Ray has been left out of the High School Federation’s history in a disturbing case of historical revisionism.

The NFL is almost as bad. Hugh Ray’s rightful place in NFL history has been omitted and marginalized to the point of oblivion, and credit for his accomplishments has been taken by powerful owners who sponsored his rules. These deliberate revisions were made to protect their copyrights, self-serving history, and some very large egos.

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If you would like to learn more about Football and Hugh Ray read “THE NFL’S MR. EINSTEIN” available at for $19.68 for $9.95. Visit for more information.