Damon Runyon Ranks Christian K. Cagle of Army with Best Backs Grid Has Produced in Years

Damon Runyon

Knoxville Journal/October 29, 1928

This chappy, Christian K. Cagle, of the Army, ranks with the best backs that the manly art of what we call football has produced in many years.

We call it football because sometimes they kick the ball with their feet.

But not if they can heave it, or run with it.

Possibly a better name would be chuckball.

Anyway, I stick Christian K. Cagle up there with James Thorpe, the noble Redman; Eddie Mahan, of fair Harvard; Red Harold Grange, the celebrated defendant; poor George Gipp, of Notre Dame, and all the other lads made famous by the modern game.

Maybe he wouldn’t have gone so good back in the remote days of the Beefy Beezarks of the backfield, but he is head man under present conditions. He holds it all. Kicks, runs, handy on defense, and has a great noodle. He is a smart chuckball player.

When they gave Christian K. Cagle the melon, the other boys ought to be permitted time for an extra huddle to discuss Christian K. Cagle’s probable maneuver. Give ’em three guesses, and then they probably wouldn’t be right.

He runs when they think he ought to kick. He kicks when they figure he ought to run. And when they judge that it’s ten to one he is going to either kick or run, he pegs that old goose egg to some pal.

Talk about a triple-threat guy. Christian K. Cagle threatens you on all sides, and down the middle. He has an eye like an eagle, and can hit a flea in the eye with that leather bullet at ten paces.

He isn’t a big fellow. About 5 feet 8½ inches high, and lugging maybe 167 pounds. But he’s built like a model for Billy Taub’s clothes. Wide shoulders, narrowing down to slim legs and quick ankles. What you might call a swell shape.

When he runs, it isn’t with lashing, slashing strides like a Thorpe, or a Mahan, or a Grange.

Christian K. Cagle sort o’ sidles along, close to the ground, and flying. He has an astonishing turn of speed. He doesn’t shed the tacklers off his hips, as Thorpe and Grange used to do. He sidesteps ’em.

He is a grandfather feinter. He seems to suddenly halt as he feels a tackler’s hot breath on the back of his neck, then steps aside and dashes onward.

Christian K. Cagle has played football at West Point two years. He was a great player last year. In two big league games this year, he has demonstrated himself a real great player.

I say two years is sufficient to gauge a player’s true merit. One year, no. A fellow may be great in a couple of games but that isn’t a test. Two years of action in most of the games played by his team does it.

Three years of greatness entitled a man to all-time rank. Christian K. Cagle has another year to go.

He comes from Merryville, which is in Louisiana, and he is 23 years old. He graduates at West Point in 1930. He played football at Merryville high school, and later at Southwestern Louisiana Institute, where he graduated. He was on the football, baseball, basketball and track teams at the institute. He made his letter in each sport.

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