American Football Wiki
Joe Perry
No. 34
Personal information
Date of birth: January 22, 1927
Place of birth: Stephens, Arkansas
Date of birth: April 25, 2011 (age 84)
Height: 6 ft 0 Weight: 200 lbs
Career information
College: Compton CC (CA)
NFL Draft: Undrafted
Debut 1948 for the San Francisco 49ers
Last game 1963 for the San Francisco 49ers
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • 3× Pro Bowl selection (1952, 1953, 1954)
  • NFL 1950s All-Decade Team
  • 1954 UPI NFL MVP
Joe Perry at

Fletcher Joseph "Joe" Perry (January 22, 1927 - April 25, 2011) was a professional Fullback for the San Francisco 49ers from 1948 to 1949 (while the 49ers were a member of the NFL's rival league, the AAFC), then 1950 to 1960 when the 49ers were absorbed into the NFL, the Baltimore Colts from 1961–1962, and finally back to the 49ers for his final year in football, 1963.

After military service in World War II, Perry attended Compton Junior College where he teamed with future Pro Football Hall of Fame member Hugh McElhenny. Together they won back-to-back national championships in 1946 and 1947. Perry then went directly into pro football joining the 49ers' in 1948. Nicknamed "The Jet," Perry was not known for being a powerful fullback, or particularly elusive; he simply had fantastic speed (9.7 100 yards).

Perry retired as the NFL career rushing leader, surpassing the old record of 5,860 yards held by Steve Van Buren, and which was later broken by Jim Brown on October 20, 1963. He was also the first NFL runner ever to have consecutive 1,000 yard rushing seasons (1953 and 1954), Perry's durability allowed him to play in three separate decades, from the 1940s to the 1960s, for 16 seasons. During the mid-1950s, Perry was a member of the San Francisco 49ers "Million Dollar Backfield", playing along side Hugh McElhenny, John Henry Johnson and Y.A. Tittle. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969. Currently the 49ers "Million Dollar Backfield" is the only full-house backfield to have all four of its members enshrined in the Hall.

In addition to his football career, Perry also hosted a popular sports and music radio program, "Both Sides Of The Record," sponsored by Burgermeister Beer, on R&B-formatted KWBR (1310 AM; later known as KDIA) beginning in 1954. The program was arranged by Franklin Mieuli, a sports entrepreneur who worked in marketing for Burgie, in addition to being a part-owner of the 49ers and producer of the team's radio and television broadcasts. After retiring from football, Perry competed in the Professional Bowlers Association Tour.[1]


The San Francisco 49ers announced that Perry died on Monday April 25, 2011 in Arizona of complications from dementia at the age of 84. 49ers owner John York said:

I was deeply saddened to hear of Joe Perry's passing. He was a dear friend to my family and I and to the entire 49ers organization. He was also an integral part of our rich history. A truly remarkable man both on and off the field, Joe had a lasting impact on the game of football and was an inspirational man to the generations of players that followed him. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife, Donna, and his entire family. He will be sadly missed by all of us.

On June 9, 2011, it was announced that Perry and his fellow "Million Dollar Backfield" teammate, John Henry Johnson, who died on June 3, 2011, would have their brains examined by researchers at Boston University who are studying head injuries in sports. Both men were suspected of suffering from Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disorder linked to repeated brain trauma. Perry's widow, Donna, told the San Francisco Chronicle that she believes her husband suffered from CTE. She further told the newspaper that "When Joe was playing, they'd give them smelling salts and put them back in. "Now the equipment is better, and they're looking into ways to protect them. We have to look at what this is doing to our children."[2]


  1. Dwight Chapin, Tom FitzGerald (2011-04-26). 49ers Hall of Famer Joe Perry dies at 84. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2011-04-26.
  2. "Researchers to study 49ers RBs",, ESPN. Retrieved on 2011-06-09. 

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