Talk Of Fame Network Co-Host and NFL Hall Of Fame Senior Sub-Committee Member Rick Gosslin claims on July 15, 2022 that "Gutowsky passed away in 1976 without his career ever discussed for a bust in Canton. This Ace deserved better." More recently Gosslin encouragingly and simply claims "Belongs" relative to Leroy "Ace" Gutowsky's Pro Football Hall Of Fame deservedness.
From within a collage of antiquated football photos discovered at an estate sale in Oklahoma, this Pro Football Hall Of Fame nomination is bourne. Sounds like one of those old "Strange But True Football Stories." One composed by world renowned and prolific author Zander Hollander back in the late 1960's. Noted as "stories of odd, humorous and incredible moments in football history," this particular one about the incredible lost Lion from Detroit, Leroy "Ace" Gutowsky, would seem to fit right in.
With no thought of any Hall Of Fame potential having any potential to exist at the time, Leroy "Ace" Gutowsky rambled his way to the top of the National Football League's (NFL) 1930's ground gainer list by 1939. As a Portsmouth Spartan (632 yards), Detroit Lion (2,445 yards) and Brooklyn Dodger (202 yards) workhorse, Gutowsky owned the NFL rushing record for the decade and the Lion's franchise rushing record for almost a quarter of a century. NFL.com lists Gutwosky as the leading rusher for this leatherhead decade of the 1930's with 3,279 bone crushing yards. As well, NFL.com recognizes Gutowsky as the ring leader of a Lions defense that gave up an "astonishingly low" total of only 59 points over an entire 13 game slate in 1934. His defensive domination remained steady and true throughout his entire pro football career.
Despite numerous undocumented, uncalculated and totally fictional accounts of Ace Gutowsky being born in Komolty, Russia, this former Oklahoma City University Goldbug "All-American" was born a true American in 1909 near what is now a southwestwestern Oklahoma ghost town. A ghost town historically named in remembrance of a true Native American and popular Kiowa Indian Chief known as Ko Mah Ty. As a matter of fact, there is no proof that a Komolty, Russia has ever existed within the history of mankind.
The official birth certificate of Ace Gutowsky's son, Jerry Gutowsky, provides documented proof of Ace's 1909 birthplace being listed as Komalty, Oklahoma. The historically misunderstood fact is, it was Ace's father (Assuph Gutowsky) that was the original family immigrant arriving in the United States as a parentless child in 1892. Oklahoma's Kingfisher County official census information from 1920 documents Assuph Gutowsky's year of "immigration" as being seventeen years previous to the birth of his son Ace.
The former Oklahoma City "All-American" Ace Gutowsky is officially recognized with 3,279 league leading rushing yards in his eight NFL seasons. Many would consider this a miraculous accomplishment considering the various Hall Of Fame gridiron stars Ace competed with and against on his way to becoming King Of The NFL Mountain in the 1930's. None of them erroneously recognized as being from Russia as was the case with Ace.
Earl "Dutch" Clark was a teammate of Ace with the Portsmouth Spartans and Detroit Lions from 1932-1938. Alphonse "Tuffy" Leemans was an opponent with the New York Giants from 1936-1939. Bronko Nagurski played for the rival Chicago Bears against Ace from 1932-1937. And, along with Nagurski, another most famous Bear by the name of Red Grange shared some of the same leatherhead gridiron turf and time as that of Leroy "Ace" Gutowsky.
Gutowsky's Hall Of Fame teammate Dutch Clark, along with other greats such as Alphonse "Tuffy" Leemans and Bronko Nagurski were voted as part of the National Football League 1930's All-Decade Team. Yet, this mighty gridiron warrior arising from the Kiowa tribal lands of southwest Oklahoma out gained these and other Hall Of Fame caliber leatherheads on his way to being recognized as the NFL's decade of the 1930's career rushing leader before retiring in 1939.
Could the massive media machines (newspapers) of the larger Chicago and New York markets inadvertently assisted with the oversight of one Leroy "Ace" Gutowsky? Could these public persuading paper pressing machines inadvertently identified Gutowsky as a Russian? Has it ever been popular to be recognized as Russian within the confines of our United States of America? How is it that Gutowsky, a born and raised American, rushed past the NFL's all-time greats without notice and/or recognition? Is this man named Gutowsky the "true" Galloping Ghost of Pro Football's past? Well researched information is presented for fans and Hall Of Fame voters to decide for themselves.
This documented 1930's rushing champion, Leroy "Ace" Gutowsky, literally "broke" into the NFL in 1931 as he was contracted by Dr. Harry A. March to play for the New York Giants National Football League Company. Discovered within the original contract offer, Dr. March seemed more than thrilled to sign this 1930 All-American from Oklahoma City University at $75.00 per game for his first four with an offer of $100.00 per games to follow. Unfortunately after accepting Dr. March's contract offer with the Giants, Ace broke his leg during their preseason training camp. He then had to sit out and heal up for a full year before eventually getting another chance with the Portsmouth Spartans in 1932.
Amazingly, and as a rookie for the historical Spartans, Gutowsky became the second leading rusher (behind Hall Of Famer Dutch Clark) in the year of 1932. He also tied Clark for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with three and produced a team high yards per carry average of 3.9. It didn't take long for Ace to work his way onto the gridiron as a Spartan regular playing in eight games and starting in four. This at a time when old school leatherhead rules of the game did not allow for general substitutions but only for serious injury to a player on the field.
As well, rookie Ace Gutowsky and the Portsmouth Spartans participated in the first "recognized" NFL playoff game against George Halas' Chicago Bears in 1932. This Chicago team included the Hall Of Fame talents of both Bronko Nagurski and Red Grange. Due to extreme inclement weather, this December 18, 1932, championship game was held indoors at Chicago Stadium.
As future Hall Of Famer Earl "Dutch" Clark was unable to participate and call out his standard "Ace And Go On Two," it was ole rookie Ace Gutowsky himself who moved from fullback to quarterback in this first NFL playoff game against the Bears. While Clark was obligated to coaching duties back in Colorado, it was Gutowsky who courageously stepped in and guided the Spartan offense in this landmark first indoor and first championship gridiron contest against the history laden Bears.
Along with participating in this first NFL playoff game, Gutowsky also was a noted offensive and defensive star in the Lions' first ever 1934 NFL Thanksgiving Day game vs. the vaunted Bears. "Despite two Ace Gutowsky touchdowns, the Lions lost 19-16." But, the NFL's Thanksgiving Day historical broadcast tradition was launched in fine fashion with Ko Mah Ty's warrior carrying more than his share of the load for his team that had just recently moved to Detroit.
Ace Gutowsky's pinnacle NFL season materialized in 1936 with the Detroit Lions. Following a 1935 Championship season with the Lions, Ace rushed for a team high 827 yards in 1936. Although out rushing Hall Of Fame teammate Dutch Clark by 199 yards and Hall Of Fame rival Bronko Nagurski by 298 yards, Gutowsky did fall 3 yards short of Hall Of Famer Alphonse "Tuffy" Leemans for this annual rushing title. Despite this three yard discrepancy, official records indicate Gutowsky was the NFL's All-Purpose yard man in this year of 1936.
While taking nothing away from the "Great Nagurski," Red Grange, Tuffy Leemans and others with similar elite profiles, could Ace Gutowsky be the most overlooked and underrated football star in NFL history? Can his decade of leading NFL rushing stats, amassed while competing head to head with such great players be misleading? Does the body of work of one Leroy "Ace" Gutowsky deserve sincere consideration for NFL Hall Of Fame induction? "Most definitely" should be an obvious answer to these historical reflections with confidence that one of the greatest NFL players should no longer remain outside the realm of a most deserved Hall Of Fame recognition.
Author's Note: Information contained within this Hall Of Fame nomination has been researched and composed with confidence of accuracy. iMages have been collected and utilized with no intent of profit but with enthusiasm for discovery and recognition of a much overlooked yet predominant piece of National Football League history.