Who Is...Sam Dana

August 03, 2003

WHAT WILLARD SCOTT NEEDS TO KNOW Dana turns 100 on Aug. 7 but was
only recently recognized as the NFL's oldest living alumnus
because league historians had believed that the Kenmore, N.Y.,
resident had been dead for 34 years. (Dana played as Sam
Salemi--he changed his name because people made salami jokes
about it--and a man with a similar name died in 1969.) Dana's
son, Bob, discovered the error in Total Football, and in March he
contacted the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

PRIDE OF THE YANKEES Dana, a running back and defensive back,
played five NFL games and caught a touchdown pass for the New
York Yankees in 1928, his only pro season. He also played college
ball at Columbia, where in 1922 he shared the backfield with a
young fullback named Lou Gehrig. "I met him when I showed up to
practice," says Dana. "I was warned about tackling him head-on,
but I took a chance. He gave me a nice bone bruise."

GOLDEN YEARS Dana, who was an IRS special agent before retiring
in 1969, was invited to the Bills' minicamp in May; there he spun
yarns about punting with Gehrig--"He was very good, kicking 50,
55 yards with a beautiful spiral"--and the good old old days when
you stayed on the field at any price. "If a player came out of
the game," Dana proudly recalls, "he couldn't be put back in."
--Bryan Graham

COLOR PHOTO: MARK DALTON (DANA IN PADS) GOING WAY BACK The oldest ex-NFLer played college ball with the Iron Horse.
B/W PHOTO: NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (TEAM) [See caption above] Dana Gehrig

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)