Can you imagine Saturday afternoons in autumn without college football in Georgia? It almost happened.
On this day in 1897, UGA player Richard Von Albade Gammon was fatally injured in a game with the University of Virginia.
There had been a nationwide call for a ban on the violent sport, and Von Gammon’s death galvanized football’s critics.
The University of Georgia cancelled its season and joined Georgia Tech and Mercer in disbanding its football teams. The Atlanta Journal proclaimed the “death knell of football.”
The state legislature quickly passed a bill outlawing football at state institutions. It needed only Governor William Atkinson’s signature to become law, and he favored the bill. But an unlikely football fan intervened -- Von Gammon’s mother.
Rosalind Gammon wrote a letter pleading for the sport to be made safer and continued as the best memorial to her son.
Gov. Atkinson agreed and college football in Georgia survived. In 1905, the National Collegiate Athletic Association was founded to govern football more closely.
One of Georgia’s most cherished traditions almost ended after a death on the gridiron on October 30, 1897, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.