Chicago Cardinals '51 - '53
John Panelli played for the Chicago Cardinals in 1951, ‘52 and ‘53. The Cardinals headcoach, Curly Lambeau, had his eye on Panelli a long time. He had tried to recruit him to the Green Bay Packers during Panelli's junior year at Notre Dame. He jumped at a chance to acquire Panelli in a trade from the Lions. Panelli played at fullback but played more defense than offense and acted as the defensive captain calling most plays. The Cardinals were rich with talent, including All-Americans Charlie Trippi, Moose Fisher (ND), and Emil Sitko (ND). Fellow ND teammates included Frank Tripuka, Jerry Groom and Elmer Angsman. But coaching turnovers severely plagued the Cardinals. They had 5 head coaches in 3 years, and it reflected in their win-loss status. Never the less, the Cardinals, who played out of Comisky Park , always managed to beat cross town rivals—the Bears. Joe Kuharich was coach in 1953 when he left for the Eagles. He enticed Panelli to join him with a 5 year contract offer at the Eagles. Panelli politely told him “I'm done.” It was time to get his business started and get on with life.