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Biography Being Written On Former Texas Western Football Star Chuck Hughes

Chuck Hughes playing for Texas Western in 1965. Photo courtesy of the UTEP Athletic Department.

Most football fans have never heard of Chuck Hughes. Even in El Paso, where he starred at Texas Western nearly 50 years ago, his accomplishments on the football field have been long forgotten. When Hughes left the Miners, he was the school’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and all-purpose yards in a game. He currently ranks third in career receiving yards. The Eagles selected him in the 4th round of the 1967 NFL Draft and he spent three years with Philadelphia, mostly on special teams. In 1970, Hughes went to Detroit and started to see more game time as a wide receiver.

On October 24th 1971, Hughes was playing for the Lions against the Chicago Bears at Tiger Stadium. Late in the game with the Lions trailing the Bears 28-23, Hughes had caught a 32-yard pass and Detroit was driving to the Chicago 37-yard line. Three plays later, Hughes, who was returning to the Lions huddle, clutched his chest and collapsed near the 20 yard-line. The 28-year old football player never regained consciousness despite medical crews frantically trying to resuscitate him on the field. Hughes was taken to Henry Ford Hospital and shortly after arriving, he was pronounced dead. One day later an autopsy revealed that Hughes had suffered a heart attack from a blood clot that became lodged in a hardened artery in his heart during the game against the Bears. He remains the only NFL player in history to die on the field during a game.

For more than six years, Iowa writer Jeff Haag has been working on a biography of Hughes. He’s interviewed former teammates, friends, and family members and describes Hughes as the ultimate underdog. Yahoo Sports posted a video featuring Haag and members of the Hughes family reflecting on the life of the Texas Western legend.

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