Thurman “Fum” McGraw, a legendary figure in Colorado sports annals, was an easygoing and personable individual off the field, but a tremendous competitor when the whistle blew.
Hailed by many as the finest lineman in state grid history, McGraw was a tackle for Colorado A&M, now Colorado State University, and in his senior year, 1949-50, he became the school’s first football All-American. That same year, he was president of his senior class, president of the Sigma Nu fraternity, president of the Letterman’s Club and winner of the Nye Trophy, given annually to CSU’s outstanding senior athlete. The year before, he had been selected by Who’s Who in American Colleges.
Born in Garden City, Kansas; McGraw’s athletic career started impressively at Paonia (Colorado) High School. He won four letters in basketball, three each in football and baseball and was the Western Slope heavyweight-boxing champion. In college, McGraw held the Skyline heavyweight wrestling title in 1948 when he placed third in the NCAA Championships. He also held his school’s shot-put record for many years.
McGraw went professional in 1950, joining the Detroit Lions. He won almost instant fame as a rookie lineman and was picked in his first year for the Pro Bowl.
From 1950 through 1954, the Lions won two world championships plus a divisional title. McGraw was selected All-Pro in 1951 and 1952 and was co-captain of the Lions in his last season.
A knee injury forced his retirement from the pro ranks after the 1954 season and he returned to his alma mater as assistant coach. He took over as head wrestling coach in 1957.
But professional football called again in 1958, and McGraw joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as line coach. He remained with the Steelers until 1962, and that same year he was elected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame.
He returned to CSU in 1962 as Assistant Director of Conference Services and in 1965 was named Assistant Athletic Director. He relinquished that job in 1971 to scout professional football for the Central Eastern Personnel Organization, which served the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Redskins. He later went on to be Athletic Director at Colorado State University.
McGraw joined the ranks of the Colorado Sport Hall of Fame in 1971.