A key figure in the annals of both college football and the NFL, Elmer Layden made his mark as one of Notre Dame’s famed “Four Horsemen” and followed with successful careers as an NFL player, collegiate coach and NFL Commissioner. This letter was composed entirely in Layden’s hand just days before his senior season with the Fighting Irish in their first-ever championship season.
Written on an 8-1/2 x 11” sheet of “Northern Indiana Gas and Electric Company” stationery, the letter is dated “Sept. 19, 1924” and reads (in black-ink steel tip fountain pen):
I have been down to the hospital all day. It is four oclock now and I just finished lunch. It was the first bite I have had since seven oclock this morning. Adam is resting all right now, but I surely went through some terrible hours with him. I feel plenty tired, but I am going down again in a short while.
I am under the impression that I have “thanked” you, dear, for your remembrance in the form of candy. But, lest in the rush, I may have forgotten, I want to be doubly sure, rather than appear a “chump” in your eyes. The candy itself was wonderful, as a number of fellows will attest. I appreciate and wish to “thank you” for both the candy, and the sentiment. It was mighty nice of you to put yourself to the trouble to remember me, in that way.
We will have the pleasure tomorrow of hearing John Davis, our man for President. He is running on the Democratic ticket, and I think you + I elected him before, to be our man. We also have our first scrimmage of the year tomorrow afternoon. We will then battle the freshman for the first time. Won’t that be dandy.
I hope, dearest, that we have numerous opportunities to be together this year, and that we can take advantage of all of them. I want to see you an awful lot, as I never have, or never will get enough of you. I surely hope that you never do of me. I am awful easy to grow tired of having around, whereas, you have eternal magnetism of which no one ever tires. How I envy the boys at Ioway [sic], in being able to enjoy your presence.
I live in hope, that someday you will import to me the words, that will make them envious of me.
Living in a glorious future
Your friend always
Accompanying is the original mailing envelope (6-1/2 x 3-5/8”) which is addressed (in Layden’s hand) to “Miss Evelyn Byrne” of Iowa City. The envelope is postmarked “SEP 20 1924.”
Exactly two weeks later, Layden and the Fighting Irish began a 10-0 season in which they outscored opponents by an aggregate 285-54 count and appeared in (and won) their first-ever Rose Bowl.
The sheet remains complete and crisp, with normal compacting folds. Layden’s “Elmer” signature at the conclusion projects (“8-9”) strength and clarity. It’s a wondrous piece baring the heartfelt sentiments of one of the most revered figures in gridiron history.
Full photo LOA from JSA.