Brad Ecklund ’49
Brad Ecklund most recently of Vincentown, NJ, was born May 9, 1922 in Los Angles California and died on Saturday, February 6, 2010 in Mount Holly, NJ. Brad was raised in Milwaukee Oregon where he graduated from high school in 1940. He was a four sport All Star in baseball, track, basketball and football receiving the Perry Award as scholar-athlete of the year. Upon graduating from high school, Brad entered the University of Oregon under a football scholarship, where his college career was interrupted by WWII.
Brad entered the United States Marine Corps where he achieved the rank of sergeant. He was a hand-to-hand combat instructor, USMC Golden Gloves boxing champion and played for the USMC Jacksonville Naval Air Raiders before being deployed to Okinawa where he saw significant combat.
After his honorable discharge from the US Marine Corps, Brad re-entered the University of Oregon where he played center and linebacker. He received the prestigious Hoffman Award as the team’s MVP in 1949 and played in the 1949 Cotton Bowl. During his college career, he earned honors as: three time All Pacific Coast Conference, All American, University of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and NCAA College Football Hall of Fame. He was selected as the University of Oregon Lineman of the Century in 1999.
After graduating from the University of Oregon in 1949, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Athletics professional baseball team and offered pro football contracts by the Greenbay Packers and New York Yankees of the ACC League. Choosing pro football, Brad signed with the New York Yankees Football Club that later went on to become the Baltimore Colts when it became part of the NFL. He played in three Pro Bowls and was one of the last “60 Minute Men” playing an entire game.
Brad Ecklund and Norm Van Brocklin
Retiring in 1953 as an NFL player, he started his coaching career at Gresham High School in Portland, Oregon where he led the team to the playoffs three years in-a-row. He then returned to the NFL in a coaching capacity and started the Dallas Cowboys with his former teammate Tom Landry in 1960. He then went on to be an assistant coach with the expansion Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles and ended his NFL coaching career with the Chicago Bears when he retired from coaching in 1979. He is a member of the NFL Alumni Association.
Brad was also a member of the Screen Actors Guild having earned a role in the movie North Dallas Forty. He also did some acting in TV commercials and appearances as John Wayne’s look-alike while residing in Los Angles.
Upon retiring from the NFL, he moved to New Jersey to be near his family and became a substitute teacher. He used his education and became a substitute teacher in the Lenape High School district where he was a regular at Lenape, Shawnee and Cherokee high schools until the age of 81. Brad took on the nickname of “Bazooka Joe” from his students as he would often use a piece of Bazooka bubble gum to motivate his students. Brad was a very dedicated and much loved teacher by many of his students for the over 20 years he taught.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years Ruthie Ecklund of Auburn Maine; his son Brad Jr. and his wife Michele of Glendale Arizona, grandson Chris, granddaughter Brandy and great grandson Cole; his daughter De and her husband Neil DeStefano of Southampton, New Jersey and grandson Thacher; his son Brant and his wife Tamara of Highland Ranch, Colorado and granddaughters Meghan and Keri.