George Izo


Was he the first prey of the Sports Illustrated "Cover Shot" Curse?
Notre Dame QB George Izo had an outstanding junior season in 1958 and he was touted as the leading candidate for the 1959 Heisman Trophy award. Just one week before the 1959 season started his picture appeared on Sports Illustrated's cover promoting his chances to win the prestigious award. That very same week he suffered a serious knee injury and missed the first three games of the season along with his chance for the fabled trophy. Was this the start of the legendary SI cover shot curse?
George recovered from the injury and still had a very successful, albeit shortened, senior season which led to him being picked by the Chicago Cardinals as their first round draft choice prior to the 1960 season. He was excited to be playing in Chicago. The "Windy City" was just a short drive from the Notre Dame campus and Chicagoans had always vigorously supported the Irish teams.  George figured that by playing in Chicago he could parlay his future achievements with the Cardinals with his already well earned popularity as a successful Notre Dame QB resulting in unlimited off season opportunities in the Chicago business community. His assumptions began to materialize when he was promised a lucrative job with radio station WGN even before his first pro season started. Then the SI curse reared its ugly head again as the Cardinals suddenly and unexpectedly moved to St. Louis just prior to the start of the season. Not only did the job offer at WGN vanish for George but the knee he originally hurt in college was re-injured shortly after he had just won the Cardinal's starting QB job three games into the season. He missed most of the season due to the injury and was subsequently traded to the Redskins just prior to the 1961 season.
He served as a capable backup QB for the Skins through the 1964 season before being traded to Detroit where he started a few games in 1965 before being mysteriously benched by the Lion's enigmatic coach Harry Gilmer. He finished his career with the Steelers in 1966 and turned down an offer to return to the Redskins in 1967 as a back up for Sonny Jurgensen again. After his retirement from football George moved to the Bahamas and started the first of many successful business ventures.
George had all the tools to be an outstanding pro QB. He was tall, fast and threw one of the tightest spirals ever seen. Unfortunately the knee injury he suffered in college shortly after appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated haunted him throughout his pro career.
Helmet Hut was privileged to recently meet up with George Izo and replicate for him the helmets he wore during his playing days. When Helmet Hut provided a special inspirational helmet to LSU prior to their big game with Mississippi in 2003 they won the game and went on to win the National Championship that year. We have no doubt that the Helmet Hut "helmet blessing" can reverse a little OLE Sports Illustrated curse and Mr. Izo will certainly realize the best of fortune in all his future challenges. You will always be first string on our team George!