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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ray Flaherty: Local legend, NFL hall of famer

Coach Ray Flaherty of the New York football Yankees holds the attention of Frankie Sinkwich, left and Ace Parker. Flaherty, a Hall of Fame end who played  on the New York Giants' 1934 NFL championship team and coached the  Washington Redskins to titles in 1937 and 1942. Flaherty started his football career at Gonzaga High. (The Spokesman-Review archives)
Coach Ray Flaherty of the New York football Yankees holds the attention of Frankie Sinkwich, left and Ace Parker. Flaherty, a Hall of Fame end who played on the New York Giants' 1934 NFL championship team and coached the Washington Redskins to titles in 1937 and 1942. Flaherty started his football career at Gonzaga High. (The Spokesman-Review archives)

One of Spokane’s first high school athletes to gain national prominence was Ray Flaherty. A multi-sport star at Gonzaga High, he was a member of the school’s first football teams. Briefly, one of his teammates there was a young man by the name of Bing Crosby, who soon dropped football to pursue other interests.
Ray went on to star at Gonzaga University and then played in the National Football League from 1927 through 1935, except for 1930 when he took a year off to coach his alma mater.
In 1936 he became the head coach of the Boston Redskins, who moved to Washington the next season. In seven seasons under his leadership, the Redskins won four division titles and two NFL championships.  In 1937, he was credited with inventing the screen pass. His NFL coaching record was 87-37-5.
After service in the Navy during World War II, Ray returned to football, coaching the New York Yankees of the new All-American Football Conference to two division titles.  He finished his coaching career at the helm of the Chicago Hornets of the AAFC in 1949. He then returned to the Northwest, making his home in Coeur d’ Alene. He passed away in 1994. Ray was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976.
One of the more famous anecdotes of his playing days was in the 1934 NFL championship game between his New York Giants and the undefeated Chicago Bears, coached by George Halas. It was played on New York’s Polo Field and on game day the field was an ice rink. Both teams struggled to keep their feet.
Ray remembered a similar situation from his college days when Gonzaga played Montana, and suggested the Giants change their footwear to sneakers.  None were available at the start of the game, but by the beginning of the second half the equipment manager had found some at nearby Manhattan College. The Giants, down 13-3 to start the 4th quarter, used their newly found traction to score 27 unanswered points, upsetting the Bears 30-13 and making Ray the unofficial MVP of the game for his timely tip.
 



Bill Pierce
Bill Pierce is a sports blogger who writes the weekly nwprepsnow prep sports almanac.





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