*Thomas A. Colella ’42 – Nicknamed “The Albion Antelope” for his speed and elusiveness on the gridiron of Albion High School, Colella was also called the “Irontown Express” and “Calamity Tom” during his play for the Golden Griffins between 1939 and 1942. In his first varsity year as a sophomore, Colella was named on Frank Korch’s Little All-American second team. The Associate Press also named him all-upstate New York. He had 74 rushes for 370 yards, 55 passes for 207 yards, 102 yards of passing interception, as well as 44 punts with an average of 42.3 yards, 164 yards from punt return and 164 yards from kickoff return.
As a junior Colella was raised to the Little All American first team and to Bill Stern’s Little All American team in Life magazine. In his senior year, Colella captained the team and was named on three Little All America teams, earned the Sportsmanship Trophy, and was lauded as the best back in upstate New York. He was also considered for the Eastern All Stars team as a senior. In his three years as a varsity player for the Griffs, Colella scored 116 points, gains 914 yards in 199 rushes, completed 51 of 127 passes for 671 yards, and punted 151 times for an average 42 yards from the line of scrimmage.
The triple-threat backfield star was drafted in the NFL by the Detroit Lions in 1942, played for the 1945 NFL World Champion Cleveland Rams, and three AAFC Championship Cleveland Browns teams (1946-48) with Otto Graham and Marion Motley. Legendary coach Paul Brown said that Colella was one of 15 players he rated as the best ever to play on his pro teams. Colella finished his career as a member of the 1949 Buffalo Bills and was also inducted into Albion High School Hall of Fame. Colella earned a bachelors degree in social studies from the College, and was a member of the Coffin Club, an honorary organization that distinguished seniors in good standing who had set them selves apart in extra curricular activities, and a member of the Who’s Who of Canisius College.