Frank Liebel hailed from Erie, Pa. According to newspaper reports, he was six feet tall in the seventh grade, destined for an athletic career. He entered Norwich in 1939 and played on two consecutive state championship teams. He was famous for catching long passes from teammate Walt Domina.
Like so many Norwich students during the war years, Liebel entered the service before completing his degree. He joined the artillery in 1941, but was discharged in 1942 due to a punctured ear drum. Through the connections of his Norwich football coach, he received word to report to the New York Giants training camp that fall. Still a gifted receiver, he led the NFL in yards per reception and receiving touchdowns during the 1945 season. He was also selected for the All-NFL 2nd Team in 1946. It was in 1946, Liebel’s fifth pro season, that he played in a championship game that would go down in history.
The day before the Giants were to play the Chicago Bears for the league title, two Giants players were accused of taking money to fix the game. Fullback Merle Hapes admitted to the scheme under questioning, but quarterback Frank Filchock maintained his innocence and was allowed to play. One of two touchdown passes that Filchock completed during that game was caught by Frank Liebel. In spite of Liebel’s skill as a receiver, the Giants lost the game 24-14; Filchock later admitted under oath that he had taken bribes.
Liebel played one more season with the Giants and one with the Chicago Bears before retiring from professional sports in 1948. He went on to have a long career in law enforcement in Erie County, Pa. He passed away in 1996 and was inducted posthumously into the NU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.