Remarkable keepsake from one of the first Fighting Irish football stars1916 Stan Cofall Owned & Worn Notre Dame Football Captain's Letterman Sweater. The legendary Knute Rockne was still just an assistant coach in South Bend when star halfback Cofall earned this navy wool sweater with the three golden sleeve stripes indicating his status as captain of the Fighting Irish football team. While Notre Dame has earned its reputation as one of the great early football powers, it was still primarily the Ivy League that dominated the gridiron in the years prior to the American entry into the First World War, and uniforms and related garments from the period prior to the school's first NCAA Championship in 1924 is exceedingly rare. This sweater rates highly amidst that thin supply.
Cofall would score twelve touchdowns and eighty-four points the year of his 1916 captaincy, earning residence on several All-American teams for his efforts, but one could argue that his post-graduation service to the sport is the greater key to his football immortality. Upon returning from WWI service, Cofall helped organize the Cleveland Indians football team, and the following year traveled to Canton, Ohio with team owner Jimmy O'Donnell to attend a meeting where the American Professional Football Association (predecessor to the NFL) was organized. Cofall was named as the league's first vice president. He would continue to compete as well, wearing the uniforms of the short-lived New York Brickley Giants and the Pottsville Maroons. In short, Cofall is fully deserving of recognition as one of the key pioneers of the early professional game.
As such, we expect the competition for ownership of this remarkable relic to extend well beyond the Notre Dame fanbase. The deep navy garment exhibits expected wear, particularly apparent in the sleeve area where the navy wool has worn away to expose the black underlining, but our catalog imagery should indicate that the aesthetics remain strong. The golden chenille "ND" patch over the heart is partially loose at the left edge but otherwise remains firmly affixed. Manufacturer's label appears at interior button path.
The sweater was purchased by our consignor from Cofall's son, and a handwritten and signed letter from the latter attends. Letter of provenance from Stan Cofall's son. LOA from Heritage Auctions.
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