Thursday, November 25, 2010

Teammate's son recalls Berwanger's modesty

Time and again, I hear about the late Jay Berwanger's modesty.

My latest example came in an e-mail from Gerry Skoning, whose father, Warren "Duke" Skoning, was a backfield teammate of Berwanger's.

Gerry recalled being introduced to Berwanger: "His response to the introduction was typically gracious. 'Skoning? Duke's son? Why, I never would have gained a yard if it hadn't been for your dad's top notch blocking.' Of course, it was a total lie, but a gracious comment by the very modest star Heisman Trophy winner."

Duke Skoning played an outstanding game in Berwanger's final appearance for the University of Chicago, gaining 78 yards in 28 carries. Berwanger gained 101 yards in 26 rushes, scored the game-tying touchdown and kicked the game-winning extra point in a 7-6 win at Illinois. It was perhaps Berwanger's best all-around game of his career.

After leaving the University of Chicago, Duke Skoning entered the business world. He was vice president of real estate and construction for Sears Roebuck when the famous Sears Tower was built and completed in 1974.