John Petitbon – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Jesuit High School/Notre Dame/NFL
Of all the outstanding high school football players in the “Golden Age” of the 1940s, Petitbon stands out as the greatest. A letterman in three sports (football, basketball, baseball), he became Jesuit’s starting tailback as a 14-year-old sophomore in 1945. He led the city in rushing and scoring and ranked second in passing as a junior in leading the Blue Jays to a perfect 13-0 record in 1946. Jesuit won every game by two or more touchdowns and scored a 48-14 victory over Jennings in the Louisiana Class 2A finals. In 1946 Jesuit became the only school to win championships in all four major sports in the top classification of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association in the same calendar year, and Petitbon starred on three of them. In his final two seasons, he combined for 50 touchdowns and he was selected as the state’s top football player in 1946.
He went on to play college football at Notre Dame and was a sophomore safety on the Fighting Irish’s 1949 national championship team. As a halfback for his junior and senior seasons, he tallied 1,432 yards of total offense and 10 touchdowns. He earned Collier’s All-American honors as a junior and was selected to play in the College All-Star Game and the East-West Shrine Game following his senior season.
Petitbon was selected in the seventh round of the 1952 NFL Draft by the New York Yanks. The Yanks moved to Texas after the draft and become the Dallas Texans. Petitbon tallied five interceptions as a rookie defensive back in 1952, but then joined the United States Marine Corps and served in the Korean War. While serving, he was traded to the Cleveland Browns. After his military service, he played two years with the Browns (1955-56), winning an NFL Championship in 1955, and one year with the Green Bay Packers (1957) before retiring.
Born June 4, 1931, Petitbon died on November 11, 2006 at the age of 75. He was also inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame. His younger brother, Richie Petitbon, is also a member of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.