John Panelli was one of the great players in Notre Dame football history, leaving the Golden Dome to star in the NFL, with the Lions and Cardinals.
In John Panelli’s time playing college football, the idea of the two-way player was the rule, rather than the exception. And Panelli excelled on both sides of the ball, a standout at fullback and linebacker.
He was decorated well during his tenure at Notre Dame – where, incidentally, he graduated in just three-and-a-half years. He made Frank Leahy’s All-American Team and was the winner of the William Coffman Outstanding Player Award.
Panelli was the first round draft choice of the Detroit Lions in 1949 and played two years with the organization. He completed his pro career with three seasons with the Chicago Cardinals.
Elected to the Michigan Hall of Fame in 1968, Panelli was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.