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UK Football Legend Bob Gain Passes Away

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Bob Gain, one of the greatest players in the history of University of Kentucky football, passed away Monday in Willoughby, Ohio, at the age of 87.

Gain was a stalwart offensive and defensive lineman at UK from 1947-50 under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Also a placekicker, he still holds the school record for most extra points in a game when he made 10-of-10 in a win over North Dakota in 1950. Coming to UK from Weirton, W.Va., Gain helped lead the Wildcats to a four-year record of 33-10-2 and was a member of the Cats’ first three bowl teams in school history.

Kentucky had an 8-3 record in 1947 and made its first postseason appearance with a victory over Villanova in the Great Lakes Bowl.  UK went 9-3 in the 1949 season and played in the Orange Bowl. The Wildcats were 11-1 in 1950, winning the Southeastern Conference championship. Gain capped his collegiate career with a 13-7 victory over Oklahoma in the 1951 Sugar Bowl, ending the Sooners’ 31-game winning streak. UK is recognized as the 1950 national champion by the Sagarin Computer Ratings.

In 1950, Gain became the first player in Southeastern Conference history to win the prestigious Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman.  He earned first-team All-America honors as a junior and senior. He was a three-year All-Southeastern Conference choice, first team as a junior and senior and second team as a sophomore.

Although a first-round selection of the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers (fifth pick overall), Gain played the 1951 season with the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League, winning the Grey Cup championship. He played for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns in 1952 before serving in Korea as a first lieutenant in the United States Air Force in 1953.

Gain returned to the Browns in 1954, where he played until 1964. He had a stellar career as a defensive lineman with the Browns.  He was named first-team All-Pro once, second-team All-Pro seven times, and played in the Pro Bowl five times. He continued to be part of champion teams, as the Browns won the NFL title in 1954, 1955 and in 1964. 

Gain received numerous honors following his career.  He was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.  His UK jersey is retired and he is a member of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame. He was elected to the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame and the Kentucky chapter of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  He also was tabbed for the All-SEC Quarter-Century Team, covering the years 1950-74, by the Birmingham Quarterback Club.

2 comments

  1. TrueBlueJohn

    He was one of my first sports heroes. I started listening to UK football in 1949 as a 6 year-old, and in my mind’s eye, saw Bob Gain, Babe Parilli, Harry and Larry Jones, Harry Ulinski, and Shorty Jamerson who scored both touchdowns in the 1951 Sugar Bowl upset of Oklahoma. They were larger than life figures in the mind of a young boy. Bob, rest in peace, and thanks for the memories.

  2. Larry Pup

    Gain was a UK great, a hero in the hearts and minds of all UK football fans old enough to remember. He was a big part of UK’s football past, a past that did produce championship football. God rest his soul.

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