1947 Heisman Trophy Winner Johnny Lujack Dies At 98

Johnny Lujack, the 1947 Heisman Trophy winner from Notre Dame who was the oldest living recipient of the award, died Tuesday (July 25) at his home in Florida. He was 98.

Lujack won Notre Dame’s second Heisman Trophy in 1947 after leading the Fighting Irish to a 9-0 season as a senior. He completed 61 passes on 109 attempts for 777 yards and also ran for 139 yards on 12 carries, directing Notre Dame to a national championship for the third time after also doing so in 1943 and 1946.

Born in Connellsville, Penn., the youngest of four sons and the fifth child in a family of six children, Lujack starred for the Connellsville High football team from 1939 to 1941. He enrolled at Notre Dame in 1942 and took over the quarterback duties midway through the 1943 season when fellow Heisman winner Angelo Bertelli was activated by the Marines. After the season, Lujack began his own stint in the military and served for nearly three years in the Navy.

Returning to the Irish in 1946, he became a back-to-back consensus All-American his junior and senior years in South Bend, leading Notre Dame to another pair of national crowns.

He lettered in four sports for the Irish, receiving varsity status in baseball, football, basketball, and track. In addition to winning the Heisman, he was named Associated Press Athlete of the Year in 1947.

Drafted with the fourth pick of the 1948 NFL draft, Lujack played four years with the Chicago Bears, leading the team in scoring each year, tying a record with eight interceptions as a rookie, throwing for a record 468 yards in one game in 1949 and playing in the NFL Pro Bowl his last two seasons. An Irish backfield coach for two years following his retirement in 1952, Lujack then ran an automobile dealership in Davenport, Iowa, until he retired in 1988.

Lujack is survived by his children, Mary and Jeff. His wife, Patricia Ann “Pat” passed away in 2022. The couple was married for 74 years. Johnny and Pat’s daughter, Carol, passed away in 2002.

“Johnny Lujack lived as a Heisman Trophy winner for over seven decades. He was one of college football’s greatest players,” stated Heisman Trophy Trust President Mike Comerford. “On behalf of the Heisman Trophy Trust, I share our condolences to his family.”