Examine this athletic resume for a moment: all-state recipient in two sports his senior year at Mason High School, three-year letter winner on Michigan State’s football squad, Rose Bowl champion, Academic All-Big Ten honoree, College All-Star, second round draft pick of the Chicago Bears. No question, an exemplary career.
If an athlete garnered such achievements in recent years, you’d be hard-pressed to find even one student-athlete at Mason High School today who couldn’t name the individual. But since this athlete competed in the 1950s, you’d be hard-pressed to find even one student-athlete at Mason today who could. This is precisely what the newly created Mason Athletic Hall of Fame seeks to address by bringing to the forefront past athletes whose accomplishments should never be forgotten. The first individual to be inducted is Bob Jewett.
Jewett, who was born in 1934 and raised on a farm on the south side of Mason, attended country school through eighth grade. He relished leaving the one-room schoolhouse for the high school and the opportunity to compete in numerous sports. In an era when the best athletes played as many sports as possible, Jewett participated in football, basketball and track, earning three varsity letters in each, and baseball, earning two varsity letters.
One sport in which Jewett excelled was basketball. At 6'2'', he was the starting center on league championship teams his sophomore and senior seasons. By his senior year, he earned All-State Honorable Mention honors as the team’s strong rebounder in the middle.
But Jewett wasn’t just a great athlete, he was a great teammate. “Bob was easy to have as a teammate. He was very compassionate. He seemed to like everybody and everybody liked him,” said teammate Stan Stolz, who played several sports with Jewett at Mason. “He wasn’t a rah-rah type guy. His speaking was done through his actions.”
And his actions were most remarkable on the football field. Jewett’s teams won league titles in 1950, 1951 and 1952, his senior year being the best of those seasons with an 8-1 record overall. As a sophomore, Jewett was the team’s leading target, but by his senior year, he played mostly halfback and some quarterback on a team that primarily ran a single wing offense. On the defensive side of the ball, he played linebacker.
Jewett’s success earned him All-State Second Team honors and the attention of Clarence “Biggie” Munn, head football coach at Michigan State in East Lansing. Jewett’s high school coach, Louis Lori, was a former Michigan State football player, and that connection likely led to Michigan State assistant coach Duffy Daugherty serving as the guest speaker at Mason’s football banquet. At that banquet, Daugherty expressed interest in Jewett attending Michigan State, a significant confidence booster for Jewett considering Michigan State finished atop the Associated Press polls that season.
After graduating from Mason, Jewett went to Michigan State on an academic scholarship. As customary during that era, Jewett was ineligible to play his freshman year. He played offensive end for three years on Michigan State’s varsity football team, often on teams that contended for the national title. In 1955, the team finished 9-1 and No. 1 in some national polls. An 8-1 finish in 1957 also gave the team top bill honors. In fact, Daugherty went on record at the time, telling the “Lansing State Journal” the 1957 team was “the greatest team I’ve ever coached at Michigan State.”
But, the highlight for Jewett was a Rose Bowl appearance on January 2, 1956, which Michigan State won with a thrilling field goal in the last moments of the game. Speaking to the “Lansing State Journal” this past January, Jewett reminisced about the excitement it brought to East Lansing. “Everyone would slap you on the back and wish you good luck,” he said. “Everybody had Rose Bowl fever.”
When Daugherty was selected to coach the North College All-Stars in 1957, he brought his offensive end with him to the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. Jewett went on a tear through the Shrine College All-Star game, reeling in eight catches for 201 yards and one touchdown. Just over a week later, Jewett topped his efforts in Tucson, Arizona, in the Optimist Bowl, pulling in 12 receptions for 256 yards and one touchdown. Named outstanding offensive lineman in both games and invited to play on the 1958 College All-Star team, Jewett found his NFL draft status elevated.
So not surprisingly, the Chicago Bears picked up Jewett with the 53rd overall pick in the 1958 draft. In one season of play with the Bears, Jewett had 15 receptions for 192 yards and one score. But an injury to his hand during an off-season job limited his career. Despite the injury, Jewett played for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League from 1961 to 1963.
Jewett now lives with his wife Irene in Charlotte, Michigan, where he owns Jewett’s Carpet and Wallcovering.