Who Was Pop Warner?

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Glenn Warner was a 23-year old football player at Cornell University during his senior year of college.

His younger teammates called him "Pop" as a reference to his old age (by their standards). And in time, Pop Warner became a name synonymous with football in the United States.

Warner, who was born in 1871 and died in 1954, is the namesake for Pop Warner football and Pop Warner youth cheerleading. He was given the honor after a coaching clinic in 1933 that he spoke at, which captivated the audience and confirmed his genuine care for youth sports. The "Junior Football Conference" was re-named immediately.

But who was Pop Warner?

Mostly, Warner is known as a successful college football coach, but several groundbreaking moments in sports history have his fingerprints on it.

After graduating from Cornell, Warner coached football at Georgia for two seasons before alternating tenures at Cornell and Carlisle Indian School. His second stint at Carlisle lasted from 1907 to 1914.

That stretch was when Warner mentored one of the greatest athletes ever--Jim Thorpe--and coached in one of the most historically significant college football games of all time.

On Nov. 9, 1912, Carlisle was set to play a powerful Army squad featuring future United States president Dwight D. Eisenhower. The matchup was an emotional one, in the aftermath of a century-long conflict between the United States and Native Americans. It was used as motivation by Pop.

"Your fathers and grandfathers are the ones who fought their fathers," Warner told his team, according to the book "The Real All-Americans" by Sally Jenkins. "These men playing against you are soldiers. They are the Long Knives. You are the Indians. Today we will know if you are warriors."

The Cadets had no answer for Thorpe, and Carlisle defeated Army, 27-6. It is considered one of the greatest upsets in college football history.

Warner left Carlisle for the University of Pittsburgh in 1914, where he won two national championships. He then won three Rose Bowls at Stanford and coached five seasons at Temple before retiring in 1938.

Pop's impact on the game of football is felt to this day. The screen pass now common at every football game was Warner's innovation. The three-point stance that defensive linemen start in was Warner's idea. So were jersey numbers on football uniforms, as well as thigh and shoulder pads.

Warner was 312-144 in his remarkable 44-year coaching career. His legacy lives on, in large part due to youth football players who compete in the league bearing his name.

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