November 3, 2003 by

Charlie Justice


Categories: Military, Sports

Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, an all-American tailback and former Washington Redskins player, died on Oct. 17. Cause of death was not released. He was 79.
Justice grew up in Asheville, N.C., where he played football for his high school team until 1943. During World War II, he served in the Navy and acquired his nickname while playing for a Naval football team. An officer, talking to the editor of the Baltimore Sun, compared Justice to a runaway train and the moniker stuck.
After the war, Justice attended the University of North Carolina and became a football star. The 170-pound tailback scored 64 touchdowns, led the team to three bowl game appearances and earned two runner-up rankings for the Heisman Trophy. His skills on the field also inspired the 1949 Benny Goodman song, “All the Way, Choo Choo.”
Justice graduated with a degree in physical education and was drafted by the Redskins in 1950. He played with the team for four years, but was plagued by injuries. Still, the team selected him as one of the Redskins 70 greatest players. He was also the first athlete inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
Complete Coverage From The Asheville Citizen-Times

3 Responses to Charlie Justice

  1. Bill Eudy

    Charlie lived in Hendersonville, NC for several years during the late 50’s and early 60’s. He was in the fuel distribution business. As a kid he played high school football at Lee Edwards in Asheville, about 20 miles to the north.
    While in Hendersonville, he coached Midget Football for 12 and 13 year old boys (120 lbs or less). I played for him for two years (1963 and 1964). He was a fine Coach, competent and charismatic. That would have been, I think a better career choice for him.
    Two vivid memories: (1) Once, I came to practice with a stiff neck. He crunched it, like a chiropractor, and I was instantly releived. (2)Our punter was having trouble with bad bounces, Charlie told him to follow through with the kick as if he were taking a giant step forward and the ball would bounce forward (in the same direction). It worked beautifully.
    I have other memories but I think I’ll just keep them to myself. I was not one of his favorites but he treated me fairly and he taught me a lot about football and a little about life. He was “old school” – and I admired him for that.
    Charlie Justice was a very good man who, a couple of years out of college, had to live with the knowledge that most people would always believe that his best years were behind him. Kind of like being a child star. I always felt like it was a curse. Still, he handled it (at least from my perspective) with a lot of dignity.
    Like Gene Stallings, Charlie had a boy who was handicapped – I think he had “Down Sendrome”. His son would sometimes come to our practices and Charlie did his best to be a regular dad and to treat the boy like a regular kid. No one ever spoke about it – Its just the way things were then.
    I would have liked to have contacted him and let him know how much I appreciated playing for him. and knowing him. He was a very accessable (and, therefore, a vulnerable) celebrity. I didn’t want to be one of those people to whom he had to be gracious, someone he had to remember.
    Quite a life indeed, most folks will never know what most of it consisted of. I am comforted to know that this man will be embraced by God and his angles. – Bill Eudy

  2. Jim Attrill

    Charlie Justice was also a hell of a fastball pitcher, I think at one time pitching for the Joe Louis Punchers who travelled the country playing in my home town of London Ontario at Labbat Park.

  3. ceclia husbands menard

    i grew up in chapel hill, the 1940’s and 1950’s. charlie justice was one of our heroes, both boys and girls. his reputation on the campus, where my father and my friends’ fathers’ worked, was of gentleman. he and andy griffith both came from the mountains of north carolina and gave much to the community life throught their talents.
    i thank the people who wrote about meeting him after his days at chapel hill. it rounds out his life in my memory.

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