Dec. 28, 1999
In the late 1920's Mel Hein, a skinny lad from Burlington in the northwest corner of Washington near the Canadian border, made his way to Washington State University. Now, more than 70 years later, he is regarded as one of the finest football players to ever play the game.
The latest honor to be bestowed on Hein, who died in 1992 at age 82, is his selection to the Walter Camp All-Century Football Team, announced Dec. 28, 1999. Hein was one of three centers selected to the 83-player team by current and retired coaches, sports information directors and media. Earlier in the year he was named one of the top 100 football players of all-time by The Sporting News.
For Hein, honors like the latest are nothing new. A star of the Cougar's 1930 football team that met Alabama in the 1931 Rose Bowl, Hein is a charter member of the college and professional football halls of fame and was the first athlete honored by his university with the prestigious WSU Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1983. He also holds membership in four other halls of fame, Washington State University, Inland Empire, State of Washington and Helms Athletic Foundation.
After earning All-America status with the Cougars as a 6-3, 198-pound center and linebacker, Hein went on to play professionally for the New York Giants for 15 years. He later coached with the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football League(1947-48), the New York Football Yankees (1949), the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (1950) and the USC Trojans (1951-66) in the Pacific-8 Conference. He also was supervisor of officials for the American Football Conference of the NFL (1966-74) until his retirement.
Noted columnist Dave Anderson of the New York Times once picked the top 25 players to perform for New York teams. Every position had several nominees, except center.
"Compared to him (Hein), no other candidates exist," Anderson wrote of the eight-time All-Pro player who regularly played on both offense and defense throughout his 15-year career.
During his collegiate days, Hein was president of Sigma Nu fraternity, served on the Student Board of Control and was chosen for Crimson Circle, the ultimate in campus scholarship and activity achievement in those years. He also was a starter on WSU's 1930 basketball team, the only year he turned out for coach Jack Friel's team.
Among the honors Hein has been accorded:
1930 - All-Pacific Coast Conference first team, All-West Coast first team (Associated Press), All-America first team tackle (All-America Board), All-America second team center (NANA, Associated Press),
1938 - Most Valuable Player in the NFL,
1933-40 - Eight time All-Pro center,
1954 - Charter member of the College Football Hall of Fame,
1963 - Charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame,
1968 - All-Time Pacific Coast Team (1920-68),
1969 - Modern All-Time College Football Team at center (top 11 players),
1971 - Washington State University Alumni Achievement Award,
1977 - Named to the All-Time All-Northwest Team,
1978 - Charter member of the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame,
1983 - Received the WSU Distinguished Alumnus Award, WSU's highest honor,
1994 - Named to the all-time NFL team at center and to the all-time NFL two-way team,
1999 - Walter Camp all-time college football team.
1999 - Named by The Sporting News one of football's greatest 100 players (#74 on the list).