"Indian" Jack Jacobs (August 7, 1919 – January 12, 1974) was an American and Canadian football player in the National Football League and Western Interprovincial Football Union. He was a charter member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
Jacobs was born in Holdenville, Oklahoma, and played high school football at Muskogee High School. He was popularly known as "Indian Jack" because he was a Creek man, at a time when the use of such terminology was not seen as offensive.
Jacobs played college football at the University of Oklahoma. Considered a phenomenal all-round player and starting quarterback, Jack averaged 47.84 yards per kick in 1940 (which remains an OU record) with a career average of 42.10. He holds the record for passing percentage in a game completing 8 out of 8 passes (1.000)(OU v. Kansas 1941). Jacobs accumulated the most offense yardage in 1940/1941 (junior & senior years). As a defensive back, Jacobs is tied with seven other players for the record number of interceptions in a game (3)(1941 OU v. Marquette).
National Football League
Jacobs was drafted in the second round of the 1942 NFL Draft. He played quarterback, defensive back, tailback, halfback, punter in the National Football League with the Cleveland Rams (1942–1945), the Washington Redskins (1946) and the Green Bay Packers (1947–1949) and led the league in punting in 1947.
Western Interprovincial Football Union
Jacobs then joined the Western Interprovincial Football Union as a quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1950–1954), where he won the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy in 1952. Though Jacobs did not invent the forward pass, he is widely recognized as one of the key figures in making the forward pass an integral part of professional football. His exciting passing game drew thousands of fans to Blue Bombers games, instigating the need for the city to build a larger stadium, Winnipeg Stadium (later called Canad Inns Stadium).
As a Blue Bomber, Jacobs completed 709 of 1,330 passes for 11,094 yards, at that time the all-time leading passer for the Western Interprovincial Football Union. In 1951, he became the first professional football player to throw for 3,000 yards in a season with 3,248. He was also the first player to throw for more than 30 touchdowns with 33. The next season Jacobs threw 34 touchdowns and amassed 2,586 yards. Jacobs had 104 touchdown passes to only 53 interceptions.
With Jacobs as their starting quarterback, the Bombers compiled a record of 46 wins, 27 losses, and three ties. They lost the Grey Cup in 1950 to the Toronto Argonauts (13-0) and again in 1953 to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (12-6).
Winnipeg Stadium, built in 1953, was nicknamed "The House That Jack Built" because of Jacobs' contribution to the success of the team.
Jacobs was twice a Grey Cup finalist, was named the all-western quarterback twice, and was one of the original inductees to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in June 1963. He was also inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977, the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 2004. Several records he set while at the University of Oklahoma still stand.
Other Pro Football
Jack Jacobs asked for his outright release from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in February 1956. After being waived out of the WIFU, Jacobs signed a contract with the London Lords (ORFU) as the head coach. Jacobs also played most of the season for the Lords.
In 1957, Jacobs added the role of general manager to his duties with the London Lords. Jacobs played in one exhibition game in 1957.
After serving as an assistant coach in the CFL, Jacobs returned to the field as a player in 1964. Jacobs suited up for the Toledo Tornadoes (UFL) and saw action primarily as a punter although he did see some action at quarterback as well.
Jack Jacobs put on the pads for one final game on July 18, 1966. Jacobs dressed for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in an exhibition game.
In 1955, Jacobs was a scout for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and later, was a coach for the London Lords of the Ontario Rugby Football Union (ORFU) for two seasons. He also worked as an assistant coach for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Montreal Alouettes and the Edmonton Eskimos.
Jacobs was also an actor who played a professional football player in the 1948 movie, Triple Threat. Jacobs died in 1974 in Greensboro, North Carolina from a sudden heart attack.