Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

The Original Mitt Romney

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The Original Mitt Romney

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Now that Mark Kirk's guy Mitt Romney looks like the Republican nominee for president, Barack Obama won’t be the only candidate with a connection to Chicago.

Romney, it turns out, is the namesake of one the Chicago Bears’ first quarterbacks.

Milton “Mitt” Romney was a football star at the University of Chicago. Before dropping out of Division I sports and going full nerd in the late 1930s, U of C had one of the top football programs in the nation. Under coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, the Maroons, who were the original “Monsters of the Midway,” won seven Big Ten championships.

Romney was the starting quarterback on the next-to-last title team, in 1922. He was so valuable to the team that when he lost his eligibility due to piling up too many academic credits, The University of Chicago Magazine lamented that “Romney’s loss was the worst blow the team could have received … loss of Romney leaves the team without a really good quarterback.”

The Maroons’ loss was the NFL’s gain. Romney played two seasons with the Racine Legion, then joined the Bears, for whom he started 28 games. In his most active season, 1926, the Bears went 12-1-3, finishing second to the Frankford Yellow Jackets.

A Mormon from Utah, Romney was first cousin once removed to future Michigan governor George Romney. When George’s last son was born in 1947, he gave him the first name Willard, after hotelier J. Willard Marriott, a family friend. For the boy’s middle name, he used the family football star’s nickname.

Even though Romney was named after a U of C BMOC, this Ward Room blogger has a hunch he won’t be able to compete with Obama in Hyde Park.

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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