Lou Groza would keep the 2-yard-long tape in his helmet. When it came time to kick a field goal, he placed it on the ground, so it lined up the football and the middle of the crossbars. The technique was simple, yet effective. So effective, in fact, that the NFL outlawed it in 1956. In this photo taken before the infamous “Lou Groza Rule” went into effect, Groza kicks for an audience with the help of fellow NFL Hall of Famer Otto Graham — and the tape.
Called “The Toe,” Groza was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, and played college football at Ohio State University, under head coach Paul Brown. He was then drafted during World War II. While in the U.S. Army, Groza was heavily recruited by Brown, who had become head coach of the Cleveland Browns, and was sent care packages of footballs to practice kicking. He signed his contract while in an Okinawa, Japan, medical tent. He showed up to training camp still wearing his fatigues, with his duffle bag slung over a shoulder.
In 1950, Groza kicked the game-winning field goal with 28 seconds left to defeat the Los Angeles Rams and win the Browns their first NFL championship. Groza made the Pro Bowl nine times in his 21 seasons, all with the Browns. “Pressure didn’t bother him at all. He was so good with the fundamentals and he’d practice and practice,” Graham said of his friend Groza. “We always felt if we get within 40, 50 yards of the goal post, he could make it, and 95% of the time he did.”