State Your Case: Harder first to make 100 points a year the norm in NFL

Ron Borges

What Pat Harder did in the years between 1947 and 1951 is commonplace today but in the early post-World War II NFL seasons it was anything but. Those are the years when Harder became the first player in NFL history to score over 100 points three consecutive years despite playing only a 12-game season.

Last season 19 players eclipsed 100 points, although only one, the Los Angeles Rams' running back Todd Gurley, was not a kicker. When comparing that with Harder's performance one need remember today's players play 25% more games than Harder did in the days when rosters were limited and the season ended before Christmas.

Other players, like Hall of Fame wide receiver Don Hutson, exceeded 100 points before Harder. But the bruising Chicago Cardinals and Detroit Lions' fullback and placekicker was the first to pile up those kind of points year after year, leading the NFL in scoring in 1947, 1948 and 1949 with 102, 110 and 102 while not even being the featured back in the Chicago Cardinals' offense. Instead, he was the reliable one who consistently put points on the board.

But scoring points was not all he did during his career.

Harder finished second in the league in rushing in 1946 with 545 yards, was twice in the top six in rushing and was among the top seven in rushing touchdowns seven times and total touchdowns four times during a career in which he would also play an intergal part in the Detroit Lions' 1952 and 1953 NFL championship teams before retiring.

In 1948 Harder posted his finest season, rushing for 554 yards and scoring 110 points. That year he was named the league's Most Valuable Player by UPI, which was at the time one of the leading presenters of such awards. Harder would make all-pro that season, something he had done the previous year and would do again in 1949. He was also a second-team All-Pro in 1946, his rookie season, and again in 1950 before the Cardinals traded him to Detroit.

For his efforts, Harder was named to the NFL's 1940s All-Decade team before going on to become an NFL official from 1966 to 1982. He was the umpire in the famous (and in Oakland infamous) "Immaculate Reception'' playoff game won by the Pittsburgh Steelers on a disputed touchdown catch and run by Franco Harris that beat the Raiders. He was also an alternate for the "Ice Bowl'' 1967 NFL Chamionship Game in frigid Green Bay, won by the Packers over the Dallas Cowboys. It was probably the only game Harder was happy not to be on the field for!

Despite all his achievements, Pat Harder has never been discussed by the Hall of Fame selection committee. One would think the veterans committe might want to take a look back at the man who made 100-point scoring his norm in the late 1940s.


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