Did Edgar Allan Poe Really Play an Early Form of Football?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: Edgar Allan Poe played an early form of football.

Reader David wrote in to ask:

I know this sounds weird but I heard that Edgar Allen Poe played some early version of football. Is that true?


That’s not true, I’m afraid, David, but it’s interesting to note just how much truth is involved in it! You see, Edgar Allan Poe was a member of the very first All-American football team!

It just wasn’t the world-famous author and poet, but rather, his grand-nephew, NAMED after his grand-uncle!

American football just was not around when Poe was living.

Heck, it was still in its nascent stages by the time his grand-nephew took the field as quarterback for Princeton University’s football team!

There’s a good joke about Poe’s playing days that one time, after he led Princeton to a rousing defeat of Harvard, a Harvard supporter remarks, “Is he related to the great Edgar Allan Poe?” to which a Princeton supporter retorts, “He IS the great Edgar Allan Poe!”

In any event, Poe was named to the first ever All-American Team for Football in 1899.

Poe went on to become the Attorney General for Maryland.

The legend is…

STATUS: False

Thanks for the question, David!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is [email protected]

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