GATESVILLE — Clyde “Bulldog” Turner, a strong, tough, fast Texan who played center and linebacker for the Chicago Bears in the 1940s, once told an interviewer he “never had a bad game.”
In Michael Barr’s book “Remembering Bulldog Turner – Unsung Monster of the Midway,” dozens of men who played with or against Turner readily agree with that assessment.
Turner, who spent his later years on his Pidcoke ranch, died in 1998 after a Hall of Fame career that included four NFL championships with the Bears. After leaving the playing field, Turner moved to the sideline in 1962 as head coach of the New York Titans, forerunners of today’s Jets.
Barr, a retired educator who lives and writes in Gatesville, has compiled a heaping array of anecdotes, game facts, player lore, photos and gossip from books, magazines, newspaper clips and interviews with people who knew — or knew of — the legendary Bulldog.
Barr’s book is set for publication this year by the Texas Tech University Press.
One chapter — “The Worst Thrashing in History” — gives the account of the Bears’ 73-0 throttling of the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL championship game.
The quarterback on the low end of that score was Slingin’ Sammy Baugh who, like Turner, played football at Sweetwater High School. Baugh and Turner were opponents but friends.
On hearing of Turner’s death in 1998, Baugh said Bulldog was “the best there ever was.”
One of Barr’s key sources for the book was an interview of Turner by Jed Arnett, formerly of Gatesville, that was published in November 1994 in a now-defunct weekly newspaper, the Radio Post.
Quotes gleaned from Arnett’s four-hour conversation with Turner account for at least two dozen citations in Barr’s book. It was Arnett who reported Turner’s boast that he “never had a bad game.”
Arnett said when he looked a bit skeptical, Turner handed him a card with the phone number of Chicago Bears Chairman Ed McCaskey and told him to check his facts. Arnett called and left a message with McCaskey’s secretary.
“The next day, Ed called me from Green Bay where the Bears opened the season,” Arnett said. “He told me Bulldog was George Halas’ all-time favorite Bear.” McCaskey, who was Halas’ son-in-law, would know.
Barr’s book recounts the wide array of colorful gridiron adventures that were Bulldog’s life, many of which Turner talked about in the Radio Post interview.
Arnett takes exception to the subtitle of the book that calls Turner “unsung.”
Bulldog had showed him a Chicago newspaper front page after a game with Turner’s photograph and a big headline: “Our Bulldog.”