Marshall Native Never Forgot His Hometown
Yelberton Abraham Tittle Jr., also known as Y.A. Tittle, was a groundbreaker, Hall of Fame and seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback and part of the San Francisco 49ers’ famed “Million Dollar Backfield.” He was also the first professional football player featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and is credited with coining “alley-oop” as a sports term to describe a high arcing pass.
Tittle was born October 24, 1926, and raised in Marshall, Texas. As a child, he would throw the football around the yard at bushes and through a tire swing. As a teenager, he played on the Marshall High School football team.
After high school, Tittle attended Louisiana State University and played for the LSU Tigers. His freshman year was successful as he beat a school record with 238 passing yards.
In 1948, he married Minnette DeLoach, and in the NFL Draft was the sixth overall selection for the Detroit Lions. He declined the Lions and instead played for the Baltimore Colts who were a part of the All-American Football Conference. He was named the Rookie of the Year after leading the Colts to the Eastern Division championship.
The San Francisco 49ers drafted Tittle in 1951 and he played the shared position of quarterback with Frankie Albert. While with the 49ers he appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated in November of 1954.
After being with the 49ers for 10 years, Tittle was traded to the New York Giants in 1962. He played for the Giants for two years before retiring after 1964.
He later joined the 49ers staff as an assistant coach and then became a quarterback mentor for the Giants. In 1992, Tittle founded an insurance company, Y.A. Tittle Insurance & Financial Services, in Palo Alto, California.
During his final years, Y.A. Tittle was diagnosed with dementia. His daughter once told an ESPN reporter that her father remembered only a few things: his wife, his children, his love of football, and his hometown, Marshall, Texas. He died October 8, 2017, at the age of 90, in Stanford, California. — Abigail Huff