|Dedicated to the Preservation of Athletic History at Colorado State University
|In Memoriam: Alex Burl Jr. 1931-2009
DENVER-December 9, 2009: News was received today of the passing of
one of the greatest athletes in Colorado State University history and
grandfather of current Ram linebacker Davis Burl. Burl not only played
outstanding football at CSU when it was known as Colorado A&M, but he
was known more for his ability on the track than on the football field.
Alex Burl Jr. graduated from Denver Manuel High School in 1950 and
attended Colorado A&M College in the fall of that same year. He played
football on the freshman team in the fall of 1950 under coach Julius "Hans"
Wagner before making the varsity squad in 1951 under legendary CSU head
football coach Bob Davis. He played safety on defense and halfback on
offense to take advantage of his sprinter speed from 1951 to 1953.
In track, Burl ran under the guidance of coach Vern McHone, who took
over for Harry Hughes as track coach as the 40-year veteran coach/athletic
director prepared for retirement. It was in track that Alex Burl became the
greatest of stars at Colorado A&M earning All-American awards three
times and setting national records in sprinting. In 1952, Burl qualified for
the Olympic trials in the 100-yard dash and barely missed a spot on the
roster in just his sophomore year at Colorado A&M.
Although Burl continued to excel in football, his ability in the 100-yard and
220-yard dash made him a national sensation. In 1954, his senior year, Burl
finished third in the NCAA meet in those two competitions which again
made him a favorite for the Olympics.
Following his Career at Colorado A&M, Burl signed a contract with the
Chicago Cardinals, but the US Army wanted him before the NFL could
have him play in the Windy City. Burl spend two years in the Army before
finally spending another brief two years with the Cardinals.
After his NFL career ended, Alex Burl went on to teach at Denver Manuel
and Denver West High Schools as a premier coach in both football and
|Remembering a Great Athlete in Track & Football
|A CSU Pioneer in Athletics and Diversity
In January of 2008, author John Hirn spoke with Alex Burl in a
telephone interview for a Black History Month feature on Colorado
Aggies.com about his role at Colorado A&M in the early 1950s. When
Burl was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals, he became the first black
CSU athlete in the NFL. (He played in eight games in 1956 and scored
one touchdown) In 1954, Burl also received the coveted Nye Award,
given to the top male athlete at CSU since the 1920s. Burl was the first
black athlete to receive the coveted award, but his story of racial
diversity does not end there.
Burl grew up in Denver and admired Colorado A&M athletes Eddie
Hanna and George Jones. Although they were not the first black
athletes at Colorado A&M, they did help lead the school to their first
bowl game in 1949. Along with Al Dawson, the Aggie-Rams had three
black football players on the field at a time when the school's rivals in
Boulder had never allowed black athletes. Burl chose Colorado A&M
because the coaches invited any player to play there and he looked to
Jones as a mentor when Burl was a freshman.
In his 2008 interview, Burl mentioned that when he attended Colorado
A&M people were generally nice to him in Fort Collins and on the
campus. Just 10 years earlier, John Mosley, the first modern day black
athlete in CSU history, did not receive the same welcome. Unlike
Mosley, Burl was allowed to live on the campus in the old wooden
South Hall that so many athletes lived in at the time.
Burl did point out though that he did not escape the racism of the
1950s while he was at Colorado A&M. The 1951 football season was
the first year in which a black student-athlete could stay in a Utah hotel
with his team. He believed that when he went to St. Louis in 1954, he
was the first black student-athlete to stay in a white hotel; ever.
Alex Burl played varsity football from 1951 to 1953 and had some of
the school's greatest players in its history as his teammates. Burl
played with Don Burroughs, the Aggie-Rams great quarterback of the
early 1950s and excellent defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams.
Burl also played with two CSU All-American football players. The first
was Harvey Achziger and the second was 1955 All-American Gary
Glick. In his interview for the book Aggies to Rams, Glick spoke of
what an excellent teammate Alex Burl was. Burl even named one of
his sons after teammate Gary Glick.
Alex Burl's great athletic ability earned him a spot in the CSU Sports
Hall of Fame in 2000. He joined Glick and Burroughs in the school's
hall of fame and still ranks as one of the greatest track athletes in
Alex Burl leaves behind an athletic legacy that spans three
generations. His sons Gary, Farley and Gerald all played football and
ran track at Arizona State University. Gary signed a free agent
contract with the Miami Dolphins in 1976.
In 2007, Alex Burl's grandson, Cameron, was on the CSU Rams
football team and a year later a second grandson, Davis Burl, signed
to play for the Rams. Davis, son of Gary Burl, played linebacker for
the Rams in the 2009 football season. (Cameron is no longer on the
Davis Burl played football at Grandview High School and is a native
of Aurora, Colorado. He joins Larry and Ed Graves as the only
known CSU football players whose grandfather played football for
the school. Davis Burl was thrust into action in 2009 as a redshirt
freshman and will return to the team in 2010 to continue his
|Burl Family Athletic Legacy
|Alex Burl excelled in both
football and track, but his
ability in track is what
earned him a great name
as a three-time
|Davis Burl - 2009: Grandson of CSU Hall of Famer Alex Burl
|CSU Varsity Athletes Club
|Played Football with CSU Greats
|Fort Collins History Museum