Otto Schnellbacher

American football and basketball player (1923–2008)

Otto Schnellbacher
Schnellbacher on a 1951 Bowman football card.
Otto Ole Schnellbacher

(1923-04-15)April 15, 1923
Sublette, Kansas, U.S.
DiedMarch 10, 2008(2008-03-10) (aged 84)
Topeka, Kansas, U.S.
American football player

American football career
No. 56, 83
Personal information
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:188 lb (85 kg)
Career information
High school:Sublette
NFL draft:1947 / Round: 25 / Pick: 231
Career history
  • New York Yankees (1948–1949)
  • New York Giants (1950–1951)
Career highlights and awards
AAFC record
  • Most interceptions in a season: 11 (1948)
Career AAFC/NFL statistics
Interception yards:558
Fumble recoveries:5
Defensive touchdowns:3
Receiving yards:83
Player stats at PFR
Basketball career
Career information
NBA draft1948: 7th round, 79th overall pick
Selected by the Providence Steamrollers
Playing career1948–1949
PositionForward / Guard
Number7, 9
Career history
1948Providence Steamrollers
1948St. Louis Bombers
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Stats at

Otto Ole Schnellbacher (April 15, 1923 – March 10, 2008) was an American football safety and end in the National Football League (NFL) for the New York Giants. He was a twice Pro Bowler. Also a professional basketball player, Schnellbacher played for the Basketball Association of America's Providence Steamrollers and St. Louis Bombers in 1948–49 season.


In college, Schnellbacher was a two-sport star at the University of Kansas, earning him the nickname "the double threat from Sublette". On the gridiron, Schnellbacher, along with teammate Ray Evans, was KU's first football All-American in 1947. That same season, Schnellbacher led the Jayhawks to a Big 6 conference title and an Orange Bowl berth. Schnellbacher also excelled in basketball, where he was a four-time first-team all-conference selection (one of only three Jayhawks to do so). He was a member of the 1943 Big Six conference championship team (which also featured All-American teammates Charles B. Black and the aforementioned Ray Evans) that is regarded as one of the program's greatest teams.

Pro career

He had his first season as a football career in 1948 at the age of 25. He didn't play his first game until the fourth week against the Baltimore Colts, where he made three receptions. Two weeks later, he had his first interceptions as a back against the Buffalo Bills, recording two of them. After having none in his next game, he then went on a streak of seven straight games with an interception, which included two each against Chicago and Los Angeles that saw him record eleven total to lead the All-America Football Conference. His first touchdown came on an interception returned all the way against the Cleveland Browns. He played in just six games the following year. He recorded four interceptions, which included two against Chicago. In the playoffs that year, he recorded three punt returns for 34 yards in the 17-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.[1]

He played in six games for the 1950 season but recorded an interception in five of them. This included a three-interception game against the Browns in a 17-13 victory on October 22. He was part of head coach Steve Owen's alignment idea (conceived to deal with the Browns) later called the "Umbrella defense", which had two defensive ends drop from the line of scrimmage with four defensive backs spread out.[2] In the playoffs against the Browns, he returned three punts for 21 yards and recorded an interception in the 8-3 loss.[3][4]

He closed out his career in 1951 with eight games that saw him intercept a game in each of them (with two-pick games in three of them) to go with two being returned for touchdowns. The eleven interceptions led the NFL, which made him the first person to lead interceptions in two different football leagues. He played his last game versus the New York Yanks at the age of 28 before retiring to become an insurance executive in Topeka.[5] He played in just four seasons but compiled 34 interceptions, which actually was tied for second all-time in NFL history when he retired in 1951 to Frank Reagan, who had 35.[6] Teammate Emlen Tunnell would later surpass him on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Personal life and death

Schnellbacher died at the age of 84 from cancer.[7]

BAA career statistics

  GP Games played  FG%  Field-goal percentage
 FT%  Free-throw percentage  APG  Assists per game
 PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high

Regular season

Year Team GP FG% FT% APG PPG
1948–49 Providence 23 .288 .630 .8 4.4
1948–49 St. Louis 20 .364 .696 2.3 8.7
Career 43 .332 .669 1.5 6.4


Year Team GP FG% FT% APG PPG
1949 St. Louis 2 .300 .500 3.0 9.0
Career 2 .300 .500 3.0 9.0


  1. ^ "Otto Schnellbacher 1949 Game Log". Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  2. ^ Goldstein, Richard (March 12, 2008). "Otto Schnellbacher, Two-Sport Star at Kansas, Dies at 84". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  3. ^ "Otto Schnellbacher 1950 Game Log". Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  4. ^ "Cleveland Browns at New York Giants - October 22nd, 1950". Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  5. ^ "Otto Schnellbacher 1951 Game Log". Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  6. ^ "NFL Career Interceptions Leaders Through 1951". Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  7. ^ Otto Schnellbacher dies; starred with Giants, Jayhawks

External links

  • Biography portal
  • Career statistics and player information from Edit this at Wikidata and
  • Obituary at the Kansas City Star
  • Otto Schnellbacher at Find a Grave
  • v
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Chicago Cardinals 1947 NFL draft selections
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