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George Stephens (American football)

George Erwin Gullett Stephens (April 8, 1873 – April 1, 1946) was a college football player. He caught the first forward pass in the history of the sport. He was later a journalist who also sold insurance and real estate.[1]

George Stephens
Born(1873-04-08)April 8, 1873
DiedApril 1, 1946(1946-04-01) (aged 72)
Known forMyers Park
College football career
North Carolina Tar Heels
Career history
CollegeNorth Carolina (1894–1895)
Personal information
Weight154 lb (70 kg)
Career highlights and awards

University of North CarolinaEdit

He was a prominent running back for the North Carolina Tar Heels football team of the University of North Carolina. He was selected third-team for an all-time Carolina football team of Dr. R. B. Lawson in 1934.[2] Joel Whitaker selected him first-team for his all-time UNC squad.[3]


It is thought that the first forward pass in football occurred on October 26, 1895 in a game between Georgia and North Carolina when, out of desperation, the ball was thrown by the North Carolina back Joel Whitaker instead of punted. Stephens caught the ball and ran 70 yards for a touchdown.[4] He was selected All-Southern.[5]

Myers ParkEdit

Stephens was much involved in the expansion of Myers Park.[6][7]


He was joint president and publisher of the Charlotte Observer and joint owner and publisher of the Asheville Citizen.[1]


  1. ^ a b "George Erwin Gullett Stephens Papers, 1884-1988".
  2. ^ "All-Time Carolina Football Team Selected". Carolina Alumni Review. 22 (6): 168. March 1934.
  3. ^ Kemp Plummer Battle. History of the University of North Carolina. p. 752.
  4. ^ "Tarheels Credited With Throwing First Forward Pass". Tar Heel Times. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  5. ^ "[No title]". The Daily Tar Heel. April 18, 1896. p. 4. Retrieved March 14, 2015 – via  
  6. ^ John Nolen. New Towns For Old. p. lxxxvii.
  7. ^ Alexia Jones Helsley. A Guide to Historic Henderson County, North Carolina. p. 89 – via Google books.