Carroll Paul Huntress - Remembering a Giant on the Global Gridiron
It was with great sadness and respect that we recently learned about the 2015 passing of Carroll Paul Huntress - a distinguished military veteran and marine of great distinction who during World War II earned his battle stripes in the Far Eastern theater. After his discharge Huntress attended the University of New Hampshire where he starred as a Wildcat running back. Carrol would captain his squad during his senior year while earning All-American recognition. You can see that he was a born leader.
The logo for the proposed International League of American Football.
But his time on the gridiron was only just beginning. Huntress began a long coaching career in Pennsylvania before landing a job with the University of Kentucky. With all this experience Huntress moved up to the big leagues coaching nine years with the New York Jets before making a transition to the corporate sector in 1982. Carroll moved to Dallas and joined the Hunt Petroleum Corporation where his duties as an international representative and later as Trustee took him all over the globe.
Combining all of his coaching, leadership and travel experience Huntress returned to football in 1988 as the founder and commissioner of the curiously named International League of American Football (ILAF). His league was prepared with 8 teams set to kick off in European countries including West Germany, England, Spain, Finland, United Kingdom, Italy and the Netherlands.
"The future of American football in Europe is unlimited," he said at the time of his league's forming. "One day, we are sure, teams from all over the world will be competing to determine a true Championship Team!"
We had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Huntress several years back about the efforts he and his team put into developing the first European Division of what was hoped to be a much larger concept. Carroll conveyed that at the time they were all ready to go with stadiums, coaches, teams and players set and in place. He told us that with only a week to go before kick-off they pulled the plug to avoid a larger financial disaster - a common thread seen in many of the emerging leagues who never quite cross the finish line.
Despite his failure to launch the ILAF Huntress was a visionary. No one is laughing at the idea of International American Football any longer. It was only a year after the ILAF folded that the NFL proved the moment was right to take the gridiron overseas when they launched NFL Europe in 1991. And generations later the sport has grown to a point that a planet wide league could now possibly be sustained.
It was during that 2012 phone conversation with Carroll Huntress when he inspired us to go for broke and put the boot to the ball here at Global Gridiron. Huntress eventually sent us a photo-copied prospectus for the never to lift off ILAF that revealed an ambitious plan that was under-funded and likely decades before its time. Our ongoing efforts now pays homage to the man as we attempt the daunting task of completing his original idea.
If and when the true world league of American Football finally emerges it would be an amazing honor for this true American hero if the trophy awarded to the World Champion of American Football was named "The Carroll P. Huntress Cup" - that would be a perfect tribute to a man who loved the game and knew the day would come when his beloved passion would truly be played on a Global Gridiron.