Clair Joseph Purdy
Clair Joseph Purdy
Hometown: Auburn, NY
Team: Football

Clair Joseph Purdy '19
Hometown: Auburn, NY
Sport Inducted: Football
Year Inducted: 1978

Clair Joseph Purdy '19 was a second team Walter Camp All-American quarterback in 1916 and was later selected by Coach Edward North Robinson as the signal caller on his all-time Brown team. A native of Auburn, N.Y., the 6-0, 190-pound Purdy was quarterback on one of Brown's two or three best teams, the 1916 group that swept through the first eight games of a nine-game schedule without a loss while outscoring the opposition 254-9, the nine points coming on three field goals. Purdy had the immortal Fritz Pollard with him in the backfield that year as the Bears handled everyone in sight, including Harvard (21-0), Yale (21-6), and Paul Robeson's fine Rutgers team (21-3). The Bruins lost to Colgate on Thanksgiving morning, 28-0, to spoil the undefeated record. Clair Purdy, known as "Mike", played baseball, football, and ran track at Auburn high but concentrated on football at Dean Academy and Brown. In his series on the history of Brown football, Coach Robinson selected Purdy for his quarterback over Bill Sprackling because of Purdy's blocking ability. He was the biggest of Brown quarterbacks of those early years, and his slashing downfield blocks were instrumental in clearing the way for Fritz Pollard during the 1916 season. Pollard recently recalled what it was like to play in the backfield with Purdy. "Mike would say to me in the huddle, 'Just stay a step-and-a-half behind me Fritz. I'll get you where you want to go.' I never played with a man in college or in the pros who could clear out an end for the runner and then manage to get down field and put a block on the defensive back." Clair Purdy died suddenly of a heart attack on Jan. 10, 1950.