The images of six Huskers grace the bronze Tunnel Walk gates at Memorial Stadium. George Sauer, a halfback born in Stratton, Nebraska, in 1910, is one of them.
But it’s not just NU that Sauer had an impact on.
The former Lincoln High star was a member of the Green Bay Packers’ 1936 NFL championship team.
And without Sauer, the New York Jets may never have pulled off one of the greatest Super Bowl upsets when a brash quarterback guaranteed victory over the favored Baltimore Colts. In 1961, Sauer was named general manager of the then-New York Titans, who later became the Jets. He was instrumental in signing of Joe Namath, who went on to lead New York to a 16-7 win against Baltimore in 1969. Sauer’s son, George Jr., was an All-Pro receiver for the Super Bowl III winners.
That’s not why a street was named for the elder Sauer, though.
Sauer had coaching stops at New Hampshire (1937-41) — where a road in the college town of Durham was named in his honor — Kansas (1946-47), Navy (1948-49) and Baylor (1950-55), where he also served as athletic director for nine years.
He went 78–55–9 as a college coach. Sauer even coached the New Hampshire basketball team for a season.
Throughout Sauer’s career, he was linked to fellow Lincoln High grad and Husker great Bernie Masterson — No. 43 on the Nebraska 100.
They paired together in the backfield to usher in one of the first great runs for Husker football. The two led Nebraska to Big Six championships in 1931, ’32 and ’33, when the Huskers went undefeated in league play.
Sauer was an All-American in 1933 for the second-ranked Huskers. He also lettered in track, baseball and wrestling. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.
After college, Sauer played for Green Bay from 1935 to ’37. Again, he and Masterson were connected. The quarterback played for the rival Bears.
Sauer and Masterson also squared off as coaches. While at Kansas, Sauer’s Jayhawks went 1-1 against his alma mater — coached by Masterson. KU would go on to win Big Six co-championships in 1946 and 1947.
Sauer died in 1994 in Waco, Texas. His family told the Waco Tribune-Herald that the 83-year-old developed Alzheimer’s disease more than 10 years earlier.
“He’s a great fellow and a really prominent athletic figure in the state of Nebraska,” said the late Don Bryant, who was the Huskers’ longtime sports information director.
Played for: Lincoln High, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Green Bay Packers
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Bernie Masterson, who played with Sauer on Lincoln High's state championship football team, then for the Cornhuskers from 1931 to '33 as a back on three straight unbeaten Big Six championship teams.
Best moment as an athlete: At the end of his All-America season in 1933, Sauer led the voting for players in the New Year's Day East-West Shrine All-Star game, and was later named to the all-time Shrine All-Star team.
Sauer was No. 70 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »