As 2016 draws to a close, we are excited to announce that this year’s final Alumnus of the Month is none other than middle linebacker Frank “Fudge Hammer” Nunley! Frank played college football at the University of Michigan from 1964 to 1966 and professional football for the San Francisco 49ers from 1967 to 1976.
Frank was born in Lexington, Alabama, in 1945, and attended Belleville High School in Belleville, Michigan. He was selected by the Associated Press as a first-team linebacker on its 1966 All-Big Ten Conference football team, and was inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1989. Nunley was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round (62nd overall pick) of the 1967 NFL Draft. He remained with the 49ers for 10 seasons from 1967 to 1976. Playing at the linebacker position, Nunley became a starter in 1969 and anchored the 49ers defense in the early 1970s that ran an innovative “flex” defense under Dick Nolan. He helped lead the 1970 and 1971 49ers teams to consecutive appearances in NFC Championship games.
As for his famous nickname, Frank owes it all to Stan Hindman, a defensive end who was a first-round pick of the 49ers in 1966, a year before Nunley joined the team. Frank had moved into the starting lineup a couple years into his career and solidified the middle linebacker position with his hard hitting. “I never had the best figure in the world, looking at it from a womanly point of view,” Nunley said. “I didn’t have the well-defined chest or anything like that.” After witnessing his style of play, Hindman began calling his teammate “Fudge Hammer,” because he looked like fudge and hit like a hammer. “It was fitting,” said one long-time fan of the 49ers. “Nunley didn’t look hard as nails like Chuck Bednarik, but he indeed made his presence felt to opposing runners.”
After his football playing days were over, Frank carved out a successful career as a manufacturer’s representative for electronics companies. A regular fixture at alumni golf tournaments, he’s a pleasure to be around. So please join us in celebrating the presence of Frank Nunley – we’re lucky to have him!