That’s what Coach George "Pappa Bear" Halas said to Chief Justice Callahan when he waived him following his pre-season with the Chicago Bears in 1952. As a free agent defensive back and running back, Bob Callahan, as he was then called, earned $50 for each exhibition game he played for the Bears, which paid for his first semester at Fordham Law School.
Another NFL team claimed him on waivers, but as Bob later stated about his decision to attend law school: "I decided to get into a more secure line of work." Later, attorney Robert Callahan was drafted into the Army, three days before his 26th birthday, which would have made him ineligible.
But what he lacked in timing, he more than made up for in talent and luck. When he was on the trial bench, Judge Callahan was rated as "outstanding" by the trial attorneys polled by Connecticut Magazine and later by lawyers polled by the Connecticut Bar Association. A recipient of many awards, Judge Callahan presided over many celebrated cases, like State v Johnson, otherwise known as "The Devil Made Me Do It" case, later made into a television movie, and the Shelton Sponge Rubber arson case, in which the state’s key witness relied on angels for guidance. On the Supreme Court, Justice Callahan wrote hundreds of opinions, all of which were thoughtful, well written and scholarly.
His luck came in the form of his wife Dorothy, the mother of his eight wonderful children and grandmother to their 21 grandchildren. Chief Justice Callahan was a sports enthusiast, spending countless hours coaching his children in a variety of sports, and despite 17 consecutive years of college tuition payments, he never lost his sense of humor. Bob used to say he "married well." Anyone who met Dorothy would agree. But water reaches its own level.
Because Chief Justice Callahan treated lawyers with great dignity and respect, he instilled trust and confidence in the judiciary. He led by example for generations of attorneys to follow. As his admirers, we are forever grateful to Pappa Bear.•