Brian over at the U-M Bentley Library was thumbing through the Fritz Crisler-era archives and found this gem and was kind enough pass it along.  Huge hat tip to Brian.

It’s pretty standard fare these days for football coaches to make players sign some sort of pledge prior to the season.   Well, Brian found a 1939 version filled out by Old 98, who apparently spent the summer back home in Gary between his sophomore and junior seasons.   Here’s a look:


Crisler wanted to know if they were enrolled in classes and if any were scheduled a) after 3:30pm, or b) Saturday mornings.   Harmon hadn’t enrolled yet.

Then there’s this.   Obviously smoking was more common in 1939 (around 66% of men under 40 smoked according to big Tim’s project) and I’m not sure how well folks understood the impact the heaters have on athletic performance.  Clearly Crisler had a clue and apparently Harmon enjoyed the cool flavor of his smokes:


In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell writes, “”It’s not that smoking is cool. It’s that smokers are cool.”  Harmon was cool, Daddy-O, at least through July.   I also love, ‘Are you smoking now’, as in, ‘Are you smoking as you are filling out this form, you nicotine addict?’  It’s unknown if Harmon had started to go for the gusto quite yet.

Harmon indicates his weight of 197, his height at 6”, and shoe size: 9 1/2 D.

I’m sure Crisler clearly had his plan in place on how to use Harmon in 1939, but questions were asked and 98 answered:

Harmon’s “sleeping program” was reported to be “From 12 o’clock to 9 o’clock on the average.”   Crisler then closed the one-page form asking players to make a few pledges covering:







Gotta love Harmon’s emphatic “I know damn well I will!”. And these forms were no doubt returned “AT ONCE”, as old Fritz wasn’t much for horsing around.

Harmon delivered on his promises as at the end of the season he was a no-brainer All-American and was nudged out for the Heisman by Iowa’s Nile Kinnick.

Harmon related posts on MVictors.  Follow MVictors on Twitter.


  1. This is pretty much the coolest thing ever. Great find. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Amazing. And yes, I second the praise for the Bentley Library people – they are awesome.

  3. People are always wondering what makes a "Michigan Man". They should be sent the questions and answers on this form. Awesome stuff.

  4. Great posting. Let's hope we can return to our glory years. Here is a pretty funny vidio of a drunk trying to tackle Harmon during UM vs CAL.

  5. Why is the first part of the questionnaire in print and the second part in script? The handwriting seems different, no?