George Anderson McAfee (March 13, 1918 – March 4, 2009) was an American football player. McAfee is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played college football at Duke University. He is a former running back who played for the Chicago Bears (1940–1941, 1945–1950). During his time playing pro football, he scored 234 points, gained 5,313 combined net yards, intercepted 25 passes in eight seasons, held the record for punt return average at 12.78 yards, and was the NFL punt return champion. Among some of his feats, he returned a punt for 75 yards to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers during his first exhibition game with the Bears, and ran back a kickoff for 93 yards and threw a touchdown pass to help the Bears win over their rival, the Green Bay Packers. From 1942 to 1945 he served in the Navy during World War II and missed potentially his best football playing years.
Nicknamed "one-play McAfee" he was known for explosive speed (100 yard dash in 9.7). Red Grange, a star of earlier Bears teams, called McAfee "the most dangerous man with the football in the game."
1941 was a banner year for McAfee: He led the league with an eye-popping 7.3 rushing yards per carry while scoring a league high 12 touchdowns in an eleven-game season. While his rushing yardage totals seem modest by today's standards, he had to share the backfield with other outstanding running backs, such as Hugh Gallarneau, Norm Standlee, and Bill Osmanski, as well as Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman. Known for his versatility, in 1941 his 12-touchdown total consisted of 6 by rushing, 3 receiving, 1 by punt return, 1 by kickoff return, and 1 by interception return, all while helping the Chicago Bears to their second straight NFL league championship over the New York Giants.
McAfee developed dementia in his later years and moved into Cypress Court, an assisted living facility specializing in Alzheimer's and memory care in Decatur, Georgia. Cypress Court is owned and operated by the Seattle-based Emeritus Senior Living. In February 2009, McAfee wandered out of his room at Cypress Court and accessed a toxic substance that was supposed to be kept in a locked cabinet. McAfee then ingested the toxic substance and died from complications as a result. The State of Georgia found Emeritus negligent in McAfee's death. McAfee's family sued Emeritus and ultimately settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. The circumstances surrounding McAfee's death were featured in the 2013 PBS Frontline documentary "Life and Death in Assisted Living".
By Dean Hanley
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