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Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice

by Steven Case, 2009.
NC Government & Heritage Library.

May 18, 1924 - October 17, 2003Statue of Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice

A native of Asheville, Justice acquired his nickname in the Navy, into which he was drafted in 1943. Seeing him dodge tacklers for the Bainbridge Naval Training Center team, an officer remarked, "He looks like a runaway train. We ought to call him 'Choo Choo.'"

After the war, Justice chose to play for UNC, though many other college and professional teams vied for his talents. From 1946-49, the Tar Heels had a record of 39-9-2, went to 3 bowl games, and even achieved a number one ranking in the AP Top 10. Justice himself was named National Player of the year in 1948, was runner up for the Heisman Trophy in 1948 and '49, and is still in the record books at UNC, ranking number one in kickoff returns, 3rd in career total offence, and 4th in all-purpose yards and career scoring.

Justice played for the Washington Redskins in the National Football League in 1950 and again from 1952-54, before retiring to work in the oil business and then in the insurance industry. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1963. He died at his home in Cherryville on October 17, 2003, at the age of 79.



Image Credits:

Ildar Sagdejev, Statue of Charlie Ronald "Choo Choo" Justice outside Kenan Memorial Stadium at UNC, 2008. Wikipedia Commons.

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