Who invented the forward pass in football?
This year marks the 110th anniversary of a 1906 rule change that made the forward pass a legal play (albeit an unpopular play in its infancy). Following 18 football-related fatalities nationwide in 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt demanded rules reform to make the game safer. The first forward pass completion was from St. Louis University’s Bradbury Robinson to Jack Schneider on Sept. 5, 1906.
Popular folklore has credited Knute Rockne with the innovation, in large part due to the 1940 movie “Knute Rockne: All American” — which famously starred Ronald Reagan as George “The Gipper” Gipp. While Rockne may not have been the originator of the pass, he certainly was instrumental in its success, catching one of three TDs thrown by Gus Dorais during a 35–13 Notre Dame win at Army on Nov. 1, 1913, in a game that is acknowledged as the seminal moment in the popularization of the forward pass in football.