Dr. Abe Mickal – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Ibrahim Khalil “Abe” Mickal led the LSU football team to a career record of 23-4-5 as a triple-threat back from 1933-35. Nicknamed “Miracle Mickal,” he was a three-time All-SEC selection and an All-American in 1935. He led the Tigers to a perfect season in 1933 and then to the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl in 1935.
His career highlights included a touchdown pass to Pete Burge in a 7-7 tie with Tulane in 1933 and a pass that sailed 65 yards in the air before Walter Sullivan pulled it in for the tying touchdown in the final minutes of a 14-14 tie with SMU a year later. In another 1934 game, he rifled a 50-yard strike to Jeff Barrett for a 12-7 lead over Tulane but the Green Wave rallied to win the game.
In 1936, he quarterbacked a team of college All-Stars to a 7-6 victory over the Chicago Bears at Cotton Bowl Stadium.The Bears only touchdown was scored when Bronko Nagurski dodged Mickal at the goal line and scored.
“A lot of things flashed through my mind,” Mickal told The Times-Picayune later in life. “There was nothing between him and the goal line but me. I thought about making the perfect tackle and reading about being the All-Stars’ hero. Then I thought about Nagurski’s size. I thought about the Nagurski legend. I thought about going to med school. I thought about possible brain damage.”
Despite becoming the first LSU player to be selected in the NFL Draft (in 1936), he opted not to play professionally. Instead, he earned his medical degree in 1940, and after serving in World War II began a lifelong career in obstetrics and gynecology. He served as head professor of the LSU Medical School OB/GYN department for over twenty years. Actively involved in various university affairs during and after his time as a student, Mickal was honored as LSU’s “Alumnus of the Year” in 1980 and its “Medical Alumnus of the Year” in 1985.
He was also the long-time President of the New Orleans Athletic Club.
Mickal was a charter member of the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1937 and, in 1960, he was honored as a Sports Illustrated “Silver Anniversary All-American.” He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (1967) and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (1970), followed by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame (he grew up in McComb) in 1985.
Born in 1912 or 1913 in the Levant, an area that is today part of Lebanon, Mickal died on Setember 20, 2001 in New Orleans at the age of 88 or 89.