Elroy Hirsch (June 17, 1923 - January 28, 2004) was an American football running back and receiver for the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Rockets, nicknamed "Crazy Legs" for his unusual running style.
Hirsch was born in Wausau, where he started his football career with Wausau High School under legendary high school football coach Win Brockmeyer.
Hirsch played his first college season with the University of Wisconsin Badgers in 1942. His nickname, "Crazy Legs" was permanently affixed to him by Chicago Daily News sportswriter Francis Powers who, upon witnessing him play for the Badgers against the Great Lakes Naval Station in 1942, wrote "His crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions, all at the same time; he looked like a demented duck."
His commitment to the United States Navy V-12 program in United States Marine Corps required him to transfer to the University of Michigan. He played two intercollegiate seasons at the University of Michigan where he has the distinction of being the only athlete at the school to letter in four sports (football, basketball, track, and baseball) in a single year.
Although he was drafted by Chicago Rockets of the American Football Association, where he played from 1946 to 1948, in three injury-prone seasons. After the Rockets and the AFA disbanded, he joined the Los Angeles Rams through 1957, where he gained his fame and notoriety. He assisted the Rams to the 1951 NFL championship with NFL record 1,495 yards, which stood for 19 years. He also had 66 catches, and 17 touchdowns that same year. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1968 with a career 387 receptions, 7,029 yards, and 60 touchdowns. He was named to the NFL all-time all-star team.
He starred in the eponymous movie of his life in 1953, "Crazylegs All American". He also starred in the movies "Unchained", a 1955 prison movie now best remembered for its signature song, and "Zero Hour", a 1957 airline disaster movie.
He served as the Directory of Athletics for the University of Wisconsin from 1969 to 1987.
He died of natural causes at an assisted living home in Madison, Wisconsin on January 28, 2004.
Since 1981, the Crazylegs Classic, an 8-kilometer race leading through downtown Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, has been held in his honor each spring.