Herman Sidney “Eagle” Day, from Columbia, earned his nickname “The Mississippi Gambler” in the 1956 Cotton Bowl playing for Ole Miss.
The Rebels trailed TCU 13-7 in the fourth quarter. Coach John Vaught called for Day to punt the ball back to the Horned Frogs. Day instead threw a 13-yard pass to Paige Cothren for a first down, leading to the winning touchdown in a 14-13 Ole Miss victory.
In the next day’s newspapers, Day was the “The Mississippi Gambler” and the nickname stuck — not bad for a guy who was already named Eagle. Day was All-SEC in 1954 and 1955. He was also an outstanding pitcher in baseball and helped the Rebels to the 1956 College World Series.
Professionally, Day was drafted by the Washington Redskins but took his talents instead to the Canadian Football League, where he won the Jeff Nicklin Trophy as the CFL Western Divisions MVP in 1962. Day also played two seasons, 1959 and 1960, for the Redskins.
Day died in 2008 at the age of 75.
Courtesy of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum director Rick Cleveland, author of Mississippi’s Greatest Athletes. Cleveland can be reached at email@example.com.