Marshall Newell

Marshall Newell

Marshall Newell
Date of birth: (1871-04-02)April 2, 1871
Place of birth: Clifton, New Jersey
Date of death: December 24, 1897(1897-12-24) (aged 26)
Place of death: Springfield, Massachusetts
Career information
Position(s): Tackle
College: Harvard University
Career highlights and awards
Honors: College Football Hall of Fame

Marshall "Ma" Newell (April 2, 1871 – December 24, 1897) was an American football player. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1957.

Early years

Newell was the son of Samuel Newell, a prominent lawyer, and grew up on a farm near Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in the Berkshire Hills.[1][2][3]

Athlete at Harvard

He enrolled at Phillips Exeter Academy in 1887 and graduated in 1890.[4] He attended Harvard University where he became an All-American football player. Nicknamed "Ma" Newell, he played right tackle for the Harvard football team from 1890-1893.[1][2] Newell stood 5 feet, 10 inches, weighed approximately 170 pounds, and played every minute of every game for Harvard from 1890 to 1893.[5] During his four years on the team, Harvard had a record of 46–3 (including 38 shutouts) and outscored opponents 1,926 to 95.[5] The New York World wrote the following about Newell in 1892:
"Marshall Newell is one of Harvard's stone wall stand-bys at right tackle, where he has played for three years. He is a man of most remarkable muscular development, a phenomenally hard worker, and a man of whom Harvard men may well be proud. In breaking through the line and nipping plays in the bud he is as good as ... Winter, with whom he will lock horns. In blocking the Harvard man is the better, but in running with the ball Winter is superior."[6]

Newell was selected as an All-American in all four years at Harvard—one of only three players in the history of college football to be named as an All-American in all four years of collegiate play.[5]

Newell was known as "a deeply sensitive man, a compassionate fellow of heart and understanding in complete contrast to the ferocity with which he played the game of football."[7] On the field, Newell was known for "his tremendous leg-drive and steel-trap grip in tackling enemy runners."[7] Newell was also known for his love of the outdoors and became an amateur naturalist.[7]

He also competed on Harvard's varsity crew (rowing team) from 1891–1893.[4] An 1893 newspaper article described Newell's contribution to the crew as follows:
"He is a wonderfully able athlete, having played a cyclonic tackle on three Harvard elevens and rowed bow on two university crews, '91 and '92. His muscle is fairly a burden to him, and with his great strength he is rather a stiff and awkward oarsman. His bladework is apt to be ragged."[8]

While at Harvard, Newell was also a member of the Institute of 1770, Dickey, Hasty Pudding Club and Signet.[4]

Coach at Cornell

After graduating from Harvard in the spring of 1894, Newell became the head football coach at Cornell University in 1894 and 1895. The captain of the 1894 team was Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner. Newell's coaching record at Cornell was 9–8–2. When he left after a 22–0 victory over Michigan in his first year coaching at Cornell, the Syracuse Standard wrote:
"Marshall Newell, the Harvard man to whose coaching Cornell owes much of her success this year, left to-night for Harvard. He will probably not return this year to Ithaca again this year. He was given a rousing send off by the students, nearly 1,000 surrounding him as he made his way to the station. Newell made a short speech to the students after the game, in which he ... predicted that if the present enthusiasm in football was continued Cornell would soon be ranked with Harvard, Yale and Princeton."[9]

Railroad career and death

In December 1896, Newell became an assistant division superintendent of the Boston and Albany Railroad.[10] He was killed on Christmas Eve 1897 when an engine backed over him on the tracks at Springfield, Massachusetts.[1][2][11] He was buried in the Newell family plot in Walnut Hill.[12]

Memorials and honors

After Newell's death, Harvard alumni donated $2,000 to construct a new boathouse on the Charles River for use by the crew and named the Newell Boat House. The tribute was completed in 1916.[5][13][14] In addition, Gate No. 1 at Harvard's Soldier Field was renamed the Newell Gate.[5] In 1928, syndicated sports writer Peg Murray recalled Newell as a "Pillar of Strength" and perhaps the greatest tackle in the history of the game:
"Among the great tackles of history, the name of Marshall Newell, of Harvard, stands out, not only for his fine playing, but also because of his wonderful character and the influence he exerted over those with whom he came in contact with as a player and a coach. He was a whirlwind in action, a player of phenomenal strength, and made Walter Camp's All-American team for four years, from 1890 to '93 inclusive. Newell, nicknamed 'Ma' back in his Phillips Exeter days, could use his hands as cleverly as Jim Driscoll, and was a master of position play. ... Newell was beloved by all those that knew him, respected by his opponents as a true sportsman, and his tragic death in 1897 was mourned by thousands of friends. No more high-principled player ever lived ..."[15]

John Heisman, the namesake of the Heisman Trophy, selected Newell as his pick for the greatest football player of all time.[16] Newell was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1957.[17] In 1967, he was one of the first group inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame.[18]