Born in Chicago, the late George Connor was an All-American at Holy Cross before World War II interrupted his college career. After serving in the Navy during the war, Connor played for University of Notre Dame and was a two-time All American for the fighting Irish. He won the first Outland Trophy in 1946 and was drafted by the NY Giants in the first round. But George wanted to play in Chicago, where he had attended DeLaSalle HS on the south side, so he talked to George Halas about joining the Bears.
After college, he played for the Chicago Bears for eight seasons, and became pro football's premier tackle both offensively and defensively. He later played linebacker and became the first of the league's big, mobile players at that position. Before there was a Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, or Brian Urlacher there was George Connor, who was credited with inventing the middle linebacker position.
Connor, one of the last of the great two-way players, made all-pro four straight years as a tackle and three seasons as a linebacker. He also played in four Pro Bowl games. He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1975.
The Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame annually confers The George Connor Award on an NFL veteran whose career exemplifies the tenacity and clear cut toughness of the late Bear.
The 2016 Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame has selected former Green Bay Packer and Western Illinois Leatherneck Frank Winters for the George Connor Award. Winters will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at their annual induction dinner on September 7th in Chicago’s McCormick Place.
Frank Winters, a Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion, anchored the Packers offensive line for 11 seasons (1992-2002). He was a steadfast center who played in 156 games, starting 141 during his career. He blocked for some of the most productive offensive units in team history, including the 1996 championship team that amassed 456 points, the fourth-highest total in Packers history. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2008.
Frank was born in Hoboken, NJ, and grew up in Union City. He was the third of four brothers, plus his sister, Chrissie. Frank’s dad, a postal worker, had been a good football player and Frank followed in his footsteps. He played for Emerson High and was a standout lineman. Frank—whose nickname was Frankie Bag-O-Donuts—earned a scholarship to Western Illinois University and was the starting guard and center for the Leathernecks from 1984 to 1986, earning All-America recognition as a senior.
The Cleveland Browns selected Frank in the 10th round of the 1987 draft. He was a bench player for Cleveland for two seasons, and then one year with the Giants. After two solid seasons with the Chiefs, he signed with the Green Bay Packers and won the starting job at left guard. In 1995, he became Green Bay’s starting center and in 1996 was picked for the Pro Bowl. The 1996 season saw the Packers defeat the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. Green Bay lost to the Broncos in the Super Bowl the following year.
Frank continued to center for Brett Favre and anchor Green Bay’s offensive line until the age of 38. He retired after the 2002 season and was enshrined in the Packers Hall of Fame in 2008. Favre—his roommate for 11 seasons—gave his induction speech. Another close friend on the team was tight end Mark Chmura. They helped Frank deal with the loss of his brother, John, who died at age 35 a few days before Super Bowl XXXI.
Frank moved to the Midwest after retiring from the NFL. He and his wife Alito, have two daughters, Aubre and Alexa.