To celebrate football season, I celebrate…

Jim Thorpe
Jim Thorpe in uniform for the Canton (Ohio) Bulldogs

Jim Thorpe, football’s Rube for sheer talent and grit alone.

James Francis Thorpe (1888 – 1953) was of Native American ancestry. He won Olympic gold medals for the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played football at both the collegiate and professional levels, and, oh, also played professional baseball and basketball, no big deal.
Jim’s mother, Mary James, was a Pottawatomi Indian and a descendant of the last Sac and Fox chief Black Hawk, a noted warrior and athlete himself.
Like the Rube, he also moved his talent around a lot:
Football Player:
  • Canton Bulldogs
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Oorang Indians
  • Rock Island Independents
  • Tampa Cardinals
  • Chicago Cardinals
Football Coach:
  • Indiana Hoosiers
  • Canton Bulldogs
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Oorang Indians
  • Tampa Cardinals


Have fun watching football today, Rubes!


  1. Candace

    Hi, I noticed that the article above states Jim Thorpe’s mother is Mary James. This is incorrect, because Jim’s real mother’s name is Charlotte Vieux (Thorpe), my great great aunt. Charlotte is buried in Konawa, Ok at the Sacred Heart cemetery. Charlotte was half Potawatomi (specifically Citizen Potawatomi Nation), a quarter Kickapoo, Menominee, and French descent, but not Sauk and Fox. Jim is a descendant of Chief Louis Vieux, his great grandfather.

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