Baca County Boys play against the
Packers, Bears and NY Giants in 1928
Originally published in print edition of the Plainsman Herald February 2, 2022.
By Greg Crane
A good number of Baca Countians have always had a keen interest in sports, from T-ball and pee-wee wrestling, to high school state championships in track, football, baseball, and basketball. Many of us even saw a former Springfield gridiron star play professional football.
As the NFL playoffs move toward the Super Bowl, there’s a Baca County connection to professional football, with our county actually having had three young men play in the NFL. Most know of Willard Goff, Jr. in contemporary times, but nearly a century ago, twins Earl and Myrl Goodwin, alumni of Joy Coy (yes, Joy Coy) High School took the field along with 15 other players, for the 1928 Pottsville Maroons, in their quest for an NFL championship.
Born January 21, 1901, the twins would live near Graft, Colorado, and attend school at Joy Coy. Finishing high school they headed to Canyon, TX to play collegiate football for West Texas A&M, both lettering in 1923.
After spending a season as Buffaloes, Earl and Myrl headed east to become Bison, as members of the Bucknell (Pennsylvania) University Football Team. To quite a bit of local fanfare, the Goodwins were heralded by the eastern press as being “fence busting, cow-punching lads…from the open spaces of the Golden West.” (The Wilkes-Barre Evening News, August 6, 1925).
But their playing days didn’t end at the college level. Earl and Myrl soon found interest from the Pottsville (Pennsylvania) Maroons, a team founded in 1920, and joining the National Football League in 1925.
Becoming Pottsville Maroons in 1928, Each Goodwin stood 6’1” (the tallest members of the team) and weighed 195 lbs. Earl, an end, played in eight of the nine games that season, starting in three. Myrl, who split time between playing back and end, never started, but did play in four games that season. Their physical similarities were so close an article from the Albuquerque Journal, dated Dec. 15, 1924 reported, “During the Bucknell-Rutgers game at Philadelphia, Myrl, star punter, was credited with all the punts. Coach ‘Uncle Charlie’ Moran congratulated Myrl on his excellent punting, but Myrl confessed that with an injured leg he had called Earl several times into the punting position and played his brother’s end position with no one any wiser.” Arriving in the NFL, Pottsville Coach Pete Henry was having difficulty in telling the twins apart, eventually claiming he was going to tie a ribbon in Earl’s hair.
The NFL was a bit different, to say the least, in the 1920’s. Aside from leather helmets and no concussion protocol or multimillion-dollar contracts, the Maroons played an astonishing four games in a span of seven days; including games vs. the Frankford (Pennsylvania) Yellow Jackets on November 10 and 11 (the Maroons were shut out in both games, 19-0 and 24-0).
As the 1928 season wore on, a loss to the Bears in Chicago left Pottsville setting at 1-7. In their next game the Maroons turned things around and drubbed Hall of Fame coach Curly Lambeau’s mighty Green Bay Packers, 26-0. The Packers would go undefeated the next season on their way to three consecutive NFL Championships, and it would be another seven years before they were beaten by such a margin. The Maroons’ final game of the season was a hard fought 7-0 loss to the eventual NFL Champion Providence Steam Roller, leaving the Maroons with a disappointing record of 2-8.
This would be the last NFL game for Earl and Myrl, as well as the final pro football game in Pottsville. At the end of the 1928 season, the Maroons were sold and relocated to Boston, where they’d play one year as the Boston Bulldogs before folding at the end of the 1929 season. As a memento, all of the Maroons’ players were presented a small football made of anthracite coal (the major industry in the region), inscribed with their name, position, and the year of 1928.
The Goodwins moved back to Baca County, Myrl having married a Las Animas County girl, Helen Davis, in 1927 and Earl marrying Margaret McArthur in Elkhart, KS. In 1931, Myrl and Helen had a daughter, Myrlen, born in Springfield. Earl and Margaret had two children: Earl Jr., born in Springfield, 1929; and Myrl, born in Canon City in 1937. In 1933 the brothers were living in Pritchett and had signed to play semi-professional baseball in McPherson, KS.
Earl passed away in Durango, CO July, 1976
Myrl lived in the Reno, NV area until his passing Feb. 14, 1979
A number of Colorado high school “football factories” have sent talent to the NFL, including Denver South, Cherry Creek, Lakewood High…but maybe none more unlikely than Joy Coy.
NOTE: The Gallery below was not included in the original publication, but provides more insight to the football career of the Godwin Brothers
Football was part of the Baca County tradition even during the Dustbowl. Check out: “A 1933 Dust Bowl Thanksgiving: Football Game Between Springfield and Lamar Includes Former Professionals”
More articles mentioning the Godwin Twin’s Professional Football Career.