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Jim Thorpe: Athlete of the Century

ABC’s Wide World of Sports 2000 national poll of sports fans voted Jim Thorpe the Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century out of 15 other athletes including Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, Wayne Gretzky, Jack Nicklaus, and Michael Jordan.

Jim Thorpe, Sac and Fox (1888 –1953) – All American, athlete of the century, world’s greatest athlete, Olympic champion was celebrated on Jim Thorpe Day 4/16/1973 as established by Richard Nixon, on US postage stamps, in books, and films. Thorpe is considered the greatest American athlete in history. He was named "The Legend" on the all-time NFL team. His statue graces the lobby of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and his portrait hangs in the Oklahoma State Capitol.

The NFL's most valuable player award is called the Jim Thorpe Trophy. In 1996, the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games honored his memory by routing the Olympic torch relay through his birthplace of Oklahoma. In 1999, the U.S. House and Senate passed resolutions designating Thorpe America's Athlete of the Century.


Thorpe won Olympic gold medals for the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played professional football, baseball, and basketball. At Carlisle in 1941, Thorpe stood in the middle of the field and drop-kicked a football over the goal. He turned and place kicked a field goal over the other end zone – at age 52, wearing street shoes.

He was the best natural athlete ever. No matter what sport he turned to, he was a magnificent performer. He had all the strength, speed, and coordination of the finest players plus incredible stamina. His memory should be kept for what it deserves – that of the greatest all around athlete of our time." New York Times.

The Team That Invented Football

The Real All Americans: The Team That Changed a Game, a People, a Nation is about the end of a culture and the birth of football. The Carlisle Indian School -- not Yale or Harvard -- ruled college football from 1911-1912. Carlisle was defeating the Ivy League teams and changing the way the game was played. The Carlisle team defied tradition and arguably did more to shape modern football than anyone else.

Led by renowned coach Glenn "Pop" Warner and legendary player Jim Thorpe regarded as one of the greatest athletes America has produced, the Indians at Carlisle invented new plays (including the forward pass and the reverse option), introduced shoulder pads, and prevailed against all odds in pivotal games. The Carlisle 11 used superior team speed, disciplined play, and tactical mastery to humiliate such powerhouses as Harvard, Yale, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

In 1912, the Carlisle team could feel the national championship within their grasp. Among the obstacles were the Cadets of Army led by a hardnosed Kansan back named Dwight Eisenhower. Carlisle vs. Army: Jim Thorpe, Dwight Eisenhower, Pop Warner, and the Forgotten Story of Football's Greatest Battle recounts the 1912 gridiron clash that pitted America’s finest athlete, Jim Thorpe, against the man who would become one of the nation’s greatest heroes, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The video ​Jim Thorpe: World's Greatest Athlete recounts Thorpe's amazing story.

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