A five-time All-Pro fullback known for his brilliant college football career and immortalized by his winning overtime touchdown during the 1958 NFL Championship–“the greatest NFL game ever played.”
Alan “The Horse” Ameche was a five-time All-Pro fullback. He will forever be remembered for his winning touchdown during the 1958 NFL Championship Colts vs. Giants game, which took place during the final moments of the first overtime game in NFL history.
Ameche had a brilliant college football career with the Wisconsin Badgers. As a freshman, he scored a Big Ten Rushing Record, and as a senior, won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player.
Though not selected by his home team, the Green Bay Packers, he was an easy first-round pick for the Baltimore Colts in the 1955 draft. During his first NFL play against the Chicago Bears, Ameche scored a 79-yard touchdown and was named “Rookie of the Year.” He went on to play six professional seasons with the Colts, during which he carried the ball 964 times for 4,045 yards, maintained a 4.2 average, scored 44 touchdowns and caught 101 passes. Ameche retired from professional football in 1960 due to an injury to his Achilles tendon.
A few years earlier, he and a few of his fellow teammates had invested in a chain of restaurants in the Baltimore area, Gino’s Hamburgers, which was named for Colts Captain Gino Marchetti. Ameche turned his attention to the restaurant business full-time after his exit from pro sports. The restaurants flourished, and Ameche became a generous supporter of several philanthropic causes.
Ameche still holds game and season rushing records at The University of Wisconsin. The school retired his jersey number, 35, and named him “Greatest Player” on their 1969 All-Time Team. Despite his brief career with the Colts, he carved his place in sports history as the fullback who made the day’s most memorable play during what has been called “the greatest NFL game ever played.”
Ameche died on August 8, 1988, and was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.