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Who Is Chic Harley? The One And Only

No one in American sport lived a life quite like Chic Harley.

"What people don't know about Chic is what a fantastic person he was. He was bashful and so unassuming.
He never pushed himself on you. I think it's one reason so many people loved him."
---Charlie Seddon, Chic Harley's college teammate and lifelong friend.

Born Charles William Harley in 1894, he was considered one of the two greatest college halfbacks of the first half of the twentieth century. Harley could do everything exceedingly well: run, pass, punt, kick extra points and field goals, tackle, block, and play safety. He was born in Chicago, the sixth child of Charles and Mattie Harley. He played in an era long before the spoilage of multi-million dollar salaries and the use of drug enhancements. Players competed because they enjoyed and loved the game, not as a means to make money. As a high school quarterback, he lit up Ohio gridirons by scoring three or four touchdowns and kicking as many as eight extra points per game on a regular basis. As Ohio State halfback he did the same propelling the small school into national prominence almost single-handedly.

In 1921, following Harley’s college career, George Halas, the manager of the Decatur Staleys (later to become the Chicago Bears), football team wanted to recruit Chic so badly that he offered he and his brother, Bill, half of the season’s proceeds. But by the end of the 1921 season, everything had changed and Chic was embarking on a terrible struggle to maintain his sanity. Within days after his final game as a pro, Chic found himself confined to a sanitarium in Dayton, Ohio. It was the start of a battle with mental illness that would tragically remain with him the rest of his life.

For the next four decades, Harley lived in an Illinois Veterans Administration Hospital. While his close friends never forgot what he had done for American sport and in particular for Ohio State University, Chic’s star slowly faded into near obscurity. It was the love of his friends and, in particularly his loving sister Ruth, that gave Chic the strength and determination to live his life as best he could. It was also the love of his nephew, Richard, the only child of Ruth, who played a pivotal role in keeping Chic’s flame alive to this day.

The new book The One And Only: Chic Harley - America's Great Athlete chronicles the exhilarating ups and tragic downs of this quiet, modest sports hero as told by a family member who knew him well.


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