On a February day in 1936, a Brooklyn, N.Y., jury found Meyer Luckman, a trucking-company owner, guilty of second-degree murder. Luckman had been accused of participating in a particularly grisly crime—the beating death of his wife's brother, apparently for embezzling from the family company. Sitting in the courtroom that day, just behind Luckman, was his son Sid, a student celebrated on the sports pages in New York for his feats as a high-school tailback.
The New York Times wrote that Sid Luckman, together with his mother and siblings, retained his composure as the verdict was read. The young athlete would go on to shine at Columbia University and help revolutionize professional football as the star quarterback of the Chicago Bears. But, as R.D. Rosen writes in “Tough Luck: Sid Luckman, Murder, Inc., and the Rise of the Modern NFL,” “not once, from the late 1930s on, did any reporter, in the sports or any other department, refer to Sid Luckman as the son of a convicted murderer.”