Paul Governali was born in the Bronx, NY on January 5, 1921 and played for Evander Childs High School.

He went on to play quarterback for Columbia University and was an All American. In 1942 he was awarded the Maxwell Award for the College Player of the Year and was first runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. He passed for 1442 yards and threw 19 touchdowns, completing 52% of his passes, all collegiate records at the time. He was also one of the leading college punters in the nation.

He was taken in the first round by the Brooklyn (football) Dodgers in the 1943 NFL Draft, but gave up offers to play football and baseball to enlist in the Marines during World War II.

After the war, he played for the Boston Yanks in 1946 and passed for 1293 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 1947 he only played four games for the Yanks before being traded to the New York Giants. He finished his career with the Giants and after a disappointing 1948, he retired. Overall, Paul passed for 3348 yards, and 31 touchdowns in the NFL.

He also made a cameo appearance in the 1948 movie called "Triple Threat".

Paul went on to be an assistant coach for Columbia while studying for his doctorate in education, which he received in 1951. From 1956 to 1960, he was hired as head coach at San Diego State, where he had a 11-27-4 record. He also taught physical education and served as department chairman from 1961 thru 1964. He stayed at San Diego State until he passed away.

Paul Governali died on February 15, 1978, at age 57, after a prolonged illness, in San Diego. He was elected posthumously into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.