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Fashion Foot(ball) Forward

Matt Schudel

Not many people nowadays remember George McAfee, one of the greatest football players of the 1930s and 1940s. He was an all-American at Duke and two-way star for the Chicago Bears -- and scored a touchdown in the Bears' famous 73-0 championship shellacking of the Washington Redskins in 1940. (Obituary coming on Sunday, March 8.)

But for those of us obsessed with athletic uniforms -- a bigger group than you'd imagine -- the speedy McAfee was known for something else. He was one of the first players to popularize the low-cut football shoe. The low-cut oxford style was introduced in 1940, and McAfee (and Bears teammate Bill Osmanski) began wearing it right away. He said it helped his speed and mobility -- plus it just looked cool. McAfee was, in his way, the Joe Namath of his time. (Namath popularized white shoes in the 1960s, when he joined the New York Jets.) By the 1950s and '60s, everyone was wearing lowcuts, but McAfee was the first.

By Matt Schudel  |  March 7, 2009; 6:22 AM ET
Categories:  Matt Schudel  
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