Born: March 30, 1917
Died: June 5, 1974
Lawrence Andrew Cabrelli was born March 30, 1917 in Newark. Strong, swift and aggressive, he gravitated toward football and basketball as a boy and made both Barringer High varsity squads as a sophomore in 1933. Larry was just a tick under six feet and weighed over 170 pounds as a senior in 1935, when he was named captain of the gridiron squad. His smashing tackles and blocks, and soft hands, made him an ideal two-way end. After spending one year at St. Benedict’s Prep, he enrolled at Colgate. He was recruited by coach Joe Orsi, who knew Larry from his Newark neighborhood.
Larry played two years of varsity basketball for the Red Raiders and was a three-year starter at end, with his pass-catching skills earned him All-East recognition as a senior in 1940. Among the team’s other stars were Bill Geyer of Bloomfield, one of the top return men in the college game, and running back Joe Hoague. Hoague was drafted into the pros in 1941, but Larry was not picked by anyone, despite being tabbed to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl and suiting up for the College All-Stars in 1941. He had suffered various knee injuries in colleges, which may have scared off NFL teams. Larry tried out for the Eagles that summer and made the team. He walked into a weird situation, as the Eagles and Steelers traded their entire rosters in the famous Pennsylvania Polka deal.
Larry started a handful of games as a rookie and caught four passes, including a 50-yard bomb from Tommy Thompson in a September game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. His main contributions, however, were on the defensive line. He had bulked up to 195 pounds but was quick as ever.
Following his first NFL season, Larry enlisted in the military but when doctors got a look at his creaky knees he was classified 4-F and discharged. The manpower suck from the war opened up a starting position on the Eagles. Larry was a reliable receiver during the war, reach double-digits in receptions each year from 1942 to 1945 and was a team captain from 1943 to 1947, after which he retired as an active player. In 1943, he returned an interception for a touchdown. That season, the Eagles and Steelers merged into the “Steagles.”
In 1948, Larry became an assistant on Greasy Neale’s staff and played an important role in their rise to NFL titles in 1948 and 1949, tutoring the team’s ends. Following a 6–6 1950 season, Neale was fired and Larry caught on with the Redskins as a member of Herman Ball’s sideline squad. Ball did not survive an 0–3 start and even though the team played better under his replacement, running backs coach Dick Todd, Larry started shopping for a new job. He found work as a scout with the ill-fated Dallas Texans in 1952 and with the ’Skins in 1953. In 1954, Larry went to work as an assistant coach for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In 1958, he was named coach by Bishop Eustace High School in Pennsauken, NJ.
After his work in football, Larry moved to the Philadelphia suburbs. His sons, Larry Jr. and Bob, became high-school basketball and football stars in the 1960s. Larry worked as a construction salesman. He passed away at age 57 in Bryn Mawr after a long battle with cancer. In 2013, Larry was inducted into Colgate’s Hall of Honor.