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Given his outstanding play on the 1947 championship Notre Dame team, John Panelli was targeted by Curly Lambeau and Green Bay Packers for the draft in his Junior year at ND. John considered the prospect and decided to complete his schooling and continue playing ball at ND. His senior year of play was nothing short of remarkable.averaging 7.5 yards per carry on nearly 100 carries for the #2 ranked undefeated '48 ND team. As a result he was the 13 th pick in the overall draft and the Number 1 pick of Bo McMillin's Detroit Lions. There was a scuffle between the Lions and the New York Yankees (All America conference) over John, but the Lions were able to keep him. He was a starting fullback and defensive back for the Lions and was acting defensive captain for 2 years. He was referred to by the press as the most outstanding defensive player on the team in 1949, and the cornerstone "of the defensive platoon". He then played 3 years primarily as defensive back for the Chicago Cardinals. Coaching turmoil that followed his teams was a disappointment to John. He had seven head coaches in five years. In 1953, Joe Kuharich, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles called John off the golf course to offer him a five year contract with the Eagles. With his second child on the way, John politely refused. Having acquired 16 broken noses, 6 shoulder separations and dislocations, and the removal of the cartilage from his left knee, "Pep" quietly left pro football after the '53 season. He started his own heavy construction equipment dealership three years later in Detroit .