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The National Football League’s record for punt returns, an average 12.78 yards, was set during the 1940s by George McAfee. And the record still stands.

In 1940, McAfee was drafted by the Chicago Bears, helping to lead the team to a National Football League championship that year and the next. He put his football career on hold following the 1941 season to join the Navy at the start of World War II, serving until the war ended in 1945. After the war, he returned to play in Chicago, remaining with the Bears until 1950.

Football and military service was a family tradition. McAfee’s brother, Wes, played for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles in 1941 and then volunteered for military service after playing just a single season.

In the 1950s, the two brothers co-founded the McAfee Oil Company.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series, “Sports Heroes Who Served,” that highlights the accomplishments of athletes who served in the U.S. military.

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