Los Angeles County
|Death: ||Mar. 12, 1937|
John J. 'One Play' O'Brien died when his car hit a support beam of an elevated train track in downtown Chicago. Then an assistant coach at his alma mater, he had just finished speaking in Harvard, Illinois and was driving back to the Notre Dame campus in South Bend. John was given his nickname because of one play in a football game - the forward pass - that was not used much then or in that way. One of the greatest moments in the history of Notre Dame sports, as well college football in general, was created in 1928 by a play involving O'Brien and the circumstances surrounding it. Later on in 1940, there was a movie which starred Ronald Reagan and depicted the play. The United States Military Academy at West Point had a football team at that time that was one of the best in the college ranks across the country. And they had beaten the Notre Dame teams handily over the past few years. John had not played the entire game (or much that season) and was put in late in the game for just one play - a 40 yard pass that he would catch on the fly and fall across the goal line for what proved to be the winning score. There was just 3 minutes left in the game. Keep in mind that this touchdown came after the famous half-time speech Knute Rockne had given his players where he reminded them of the dying wish of George Gipp: 'One day, when the going gets rough, go out there and win one for the Gipper'. John ran off the the field right after he scored and sat on the bench until the game ended. And 2 years later, again against Army, he again was summoned to appear in the game and to perform the same play. Or so the Army defense thought. When he ran down the field the entire secondary was in pursuit. But they left another receiver wide open who caught a pass and scored a touchdown. Again they beat a strong Army team with the same play. The last game O'Brien played in was in 1930 in Los Angeles against the University of Southern California. O'Brien had played well and for a longer amount of time. Notre Dame won 27-0. Sadly it was also the last game Knute Rockney would coach; he was killed in a plane crash a few months later. John would later become an assistant coach at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland for 3 years and then he took a job as head coach at Saint Edwards University in Austin, Texas. Later he would return to Notre Dame to a position as assistant coach. He was survived by his wife and children, his mother, four brothers and three sisters.
Los Angeles County
Plot: Main mausoleum block 241 crypt B-14
Created by: Fred Sanford
Record added: Feb 11, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 105016126