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Elvis Presley: Singer, Actor and Football Player


By: David Troedson
Source: EPE / Elvis Australia
October 2, 2015 - 10:25:31 PM
Elvis Articles, Elvis Photos, Video and Audio, By David Troedson

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When he wasn't on stage, in a studio or on the big screen, there's a good chance you could find Elvis Presley playing football. Elvis loved other sports, too, like karate and racquetball. But Elvis always found time for a quick game, and if he couldn't play it himself, he watched his favorite teams compete on TV. He often watched three Football games at once in the TV room at Graceland where he had installed three TV sets. (See photo of Elvis' TV room at the end of this article).

'The thing I keep up with most is professional football'. (1962 interview)

'I know all the players. I know all their numbers, who they play for. I've had people quiz me on it, just in games when we've got nothing to do'. 'And that's a big thing with me right now'. 'I watch all the games that I can. I get the films from the teams themselves if I can. But next to the entertainment thing, and music, that I guess, would be the biggest (interest)'.

Jerry Schilling : The first time I heard Elvis was in the second week of July 1954. That Sunday, July 11, 1954, I go over to my local playground in North Memphis - a very poor neighborhood. There were five older boys in and out of high school trying to get up a football game. That's how unpopular Elvis Presley was at that point. Elvis was just starting out, and nobody knew who he was yet.

Elvis was a busy man in 1956: He released his first album, starred in his first movie, 'Love Me Tender', and toured across the country.

Dave Wells Community Center in Memphis

He had a rare day off on December 27, 1956, and spent it playing football. The two previous photos were taken at that game. Elvis played touch football with a group of friends at the Dave Wells Community Center in Memphis. Hundreds showed up to watch the young superstar play a little pigskin in the park.

Elvis Presley fades back and heaves a pass during a sandlot touch football game. It connected for one of the many touchdowns.
Elvis fades back and heaves a pass during a sandlot touch football game. It connected for one of the many touchdowns.

Elvis Presley Touch Football - Dave Wells Community Center December 27, 1956
Elvis Presley Touch Football : Dave Wells Community Center December 27, 1956.

At home, Graceland

Elvis also played football on the grounds at Graceland.

In fact, on October 16, 1960, he broke his finger while playing touch football at Graceland.

Elvis Presley : E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game : November 30, 1956

Elvis' famous generosity and his love for football often worked hand-in-hand.

Elvis played some football while he was a student at Humes High School, but he wasn't a star athlete.

But a few years after graduating high school (and after becoming a worldwide sensation), he purchased 1,400 tickets - seen in the photo below - for every Humes High School student so they could all attend the annual E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game for the Blind. Total cost? $1,050.

Elvis Presley receiving the 1,400 tickets for every Humes High School student.
Elvis Presley receiving the 1,400 tickets for every Humes High School student.

Elvis Presley at the E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game, November 30, 1956.
Elvis Presley at the E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game, November 30, 1956.

That ain't tactics, honey. It's just the beast in me

Elvis even took touch football seriously.

Even though the guys were playing for fun, Elvis would create football plays for them to follow.

Elvis would create football plays for them to follow ...
Elvis would create football plays for them to follow ...

Elvis Presley's Football Team

Elvis even sponsored a football team. His friends had started a team, so he sponsored it - notice E.P. Enterprises on the jersey. His friend Red West, who was on the team, later said it was some of the most fun they ever had.

Elvis Presley's Football Team.
Top left to right: Dell Dean, Elvis, James Elam, Charles McSwain, Gene Smith, Larry Herron, Freddie Vincent
Centre: Sonny West, Jim Kingsley, Billy Dodds, Larry Bell, Jack Counce, Red West, Alan Fortas
Front: Pretty Boy Moore, Wilroy McChaney, Jerry Raxter, Jerry Ellis, Wally Martin

Red West : These guys were a little ahead of us in high school, and me being an athlete, I looked up to these guys....these guys were good athletes - football players and boxers. Larry Bell and his brother...they came to us and told us they had a football team and they wondered if Elvis would sponsor them. So he sponsored the team and then we started playing too. They were some of the best times we ever had.

Elvis Presley 1960s.
Elvis Presley 1960s. Unfortunately this photo has been colorized.

Elvis Presley 1960s.
Elvis Presley 1960s.

Elvis Presley 1960s.
Elvis Presley 1960s.

Elvis and Ricky Nelson and Robert Mitchum's son Jim

In 1961 Robert Mitchum's son Jim who was 20 years old and 6 feet 4 inches often engaged in touch football games against teams captained by Elvis and Ricky Nelson. This is what Jim Mitchum said: Elvis likes to play touch football, and so do I. But whenever we play games, it's necessary to find a park where we think there won't be a crowd. Recently, Elvis' team played Rick's club, and they had 500 people watching. It's getting so that we have to swear all the team members to secrecy about where the games are to be played.

Ricky Nelson once said that Elvis had invited him to a game of football, and Ricky expected a friendly match, but it turned out that Elvis took the game extremely serious. As can be seen in these pictures from the 1956 above.

Another game ...

We are not sure when and where the following photos were taken but in late January 1962 it was reported that: Attention, Tourists: The biggest weekly gathering of Hollywood's starlets occurs every Sunday morning at Beverly Glen Park, where they convene to watch Elvis Presley and his pals play football.

Elvis plays football, 1960s.

Elvis plays football, 1960s.

Elvis plays football, 1960s.

Elvis plays football, 1960s.

Here, There, and Everywhere ...

Elvis played touch football at Whitehaven High School, near Graceland on May 22, 1966.

Elvis carried a football with him just about everywhere, in case he had a few moments of downtime and could play some football. He often played football between scenes on movie sets; this photo is from the set of 'Girl Happy'.

Elvis 'playing' football between scenes on the movie set of 'Girl Happy.
Elvis 'playing' football between scenes on the movie set of 'Girl Happy.

Elvis Presley on the movie set.

And just for a change ..

Well a 'Change of Habit' that is ...

Here's Elvis enjoying some football on the set of his last feature movie, 'Change Of Habit' in 1969.

Elvis enjoying some football on the set of his last feature movie, 'Change Of Habit' in 1969.
Elvis enjoying some football on the set of his last feature movie, 'Change Of Habit' in 1969.

Elvis Presley MP3 Audio Harold Johnson talks to Elvis Presley at Football Game, August 9, 1975 (00:30)

Somehow on August 9th, 1975 in Memphis, reporter, Harold Johnson managed to get a brief interview with Elvis during a football game - this is the last known 'public' interview Elvis ever gave. From the CD, 'Calling Elvis'.

Click to view the video

Elvis News Latest Audio (and video) updates : Video courtesy of Elvis Presley MP3 Audio Elvis Presley MP3 Audio Central.

Elvis' last vacation in Hawaii during March 1977

Elvis can be seen in photos having a great deal of fun with a football during his last vacation in Hawaii in March 1977.

Elvis having fun playing Football in Hawaii March 1977
Elvis having fun playing Football in Hawaii March 1977.

Cleveland Browns player Jim Brown

Not many people are friends with their favorite football star, but of course Elvis was. Here he is with his friend and Cleveland Browns player Jim Brown. Elvis' favorite teams included the Browns and the Pittsburg Steelers.

Cleveland Browns player Jim Brown and Elvis Presley.
Cleveland Browns player Jim Brown and Elvis Presley.

Elvis often watched three Football games at once in the TV room at Graceland where he had installed three TV sets.
Elvis often watched three Football games at once in the TV room at Graceland where he had installed three TV sets.

Quick Links

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley playing football at the Dave Wells Community Center in Memphis December 27, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos The Elvis America Does not Know
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Hospital, Memphis : October 16, 1960
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game : November 30, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley's Football Team
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley on Holiday in Hawaii : March, 1977

Perhaps it was therefore appropriate that Elvis biggest posthumous hit game from a television advertisement for Nike, featuring a Football game, albeit a different code.

Elvis Presley Video NIKE Football Short Film (A Little Less Conversation / Elvis vs JXL) (03:04)

Click to view the video

Elvis News Latest Audio (and video) updates : Video courtesy of Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley Video Central.


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Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet.

Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever.

This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.

The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.