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Did you know that 118 years ago, Georgia football almost died?

You read that right.

On Oct. 30, 1897, the death of Georgia Bulldogs fullback and Rome, Ga., native Von Gammon during the Virginia Cavaliers' 17-4 win at Brisbane park led to an outcry to end football in Georgia.

William Boggs, University of Georgia chancellor at the time, announced the following day that there would be no more football games for the rest of the season.

A bill outlawing the game at all state institutions even passed the state legislature with a vote of 91 to 3 and just needed the signature from Gov. William Atkinson to become law.

Along came Mrs. Gammon, mother of the 19-year-old victim.

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In a letter addressed to her county representative, Gammon said football was "the cherished object of her son's life" and that it would be "inexpressibly sad to have the cause he held so dear injured by his sacrifice."

She urged that football continue, but that safety measures be taken for the future.

In December of 1897, Gov. Atkinson vetoed the bill and college football lived on in Georgia.

Today, Georgia, Mercer, Georgia State and Georgia Tech still field football teams and college football is among the state’s most popular sports.

Read excerpts from The Atlanta Constitution's original stories published in 1897 on MyAJC.com.

About the Author

Fiza Pirani is a web producer and writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She is also currently investigating immigrant and refugee mental health stigma and health care access as a recipient of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism.

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