Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Today's blog post ... in the countdown to football with blog posts, three days to go ... is about player interactions. (I'm posting this one a few hours early ... I just can't wait!)

I was very fortunate to have been at Notre Dame during four amazing years of football. I was a freshman in the fall of 1989, and Notre Dame had just won the National Championship in January. Lou Holtz was the head football coach, and some of the notable football players that were there when I was include:

Rick Mirer, Jerome Bettis, Chris Zorich, Michael Stonebreaker, Craig Hentrich, Bobby Taylor, Jeff Burris, Rocket, Tony Rice, Ricky Watters, among many others.

Now when you go to school with guys who are on NBC every Saturday in the fall, some pretty typical interactions happen with them on a day-to-day basis in class, and around campus ... but some unusual interactions also occur as well.

Here are a few funny stories of "unusual" interactions during my tenure at Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame/Hawaii game, November 1991:

My junior year at Notre Dame we played the University of Hawaii over Thanksgiving break. Lucky for me, my parents sent me to TOLEDO, Ohio to spend Thanksgiving with my Grandparents, and THEY went to Hawaii for the game. Seriously? Ughh.

So my parents had heard me talking about how nice Irv Smith was, and they were trying desperately to find him while they were in Hawaii. During this part of the story, it was the day after the game, and the players were hanging out on the beach celebrating their win. First, in their quest to find Irv, they find Clint Johnson. My Dad just about shakes the guys hand off .... THIS. IS. THE. KID. WHO. RAN. 99. YARDS. FOR. A. TOUCH. DOWN. Easy Dad.

The next guy they find in their quest to find Irv is Rick Mirer. Now let me set the stage for this just a bit ... my parents are on the beach, in their bathing suits, in Hawaii, when they meet Rick.

Okay, fast forward to the Monday we get back to school. I am walking down the sidewalk towards class, and Rick is walking down the sidewalk towards me. We both turn at the same time to walk up to the building, and we're walking side-by-side. He turns to me and says, "I met your Mom on the beach in Hawaii." (Me, cringe.) He continues on, "She seemed really excited to meet me, but I'm not really sure why? (He shrugs.) I'm a regular guy, just like every one else." (Yeah, who's on NBC every Saturday.)

The Sugar Bowl, Notre Dame Florida, January 1, 1992

So my parents, ever so graciously, take me to New Orleans to see Notre Dame play the University of Florida in the Sugar Bowl. We got down there a few days before the game to see the sites of New Orleans, and we happen to run in to some of the players down at this local shopping area. The first guy we run into is Clint Johnson. So my Mother introduces ME to Clint. Really?? My Mother is introducing ME to a football player from MY school. Oh my gosh, I think I am going to die.

We had an amazing time New Orleans. Celebrated New Year's Eve on Burbon Street. Attended the game (which, by-the-way, was awesome!) and then headed back to the hotel to change before going out to celebrate. We were staying at the same hotel as the players, so we waited for them to come out of their post game meeting before heading out on the town with some of the guys. So finally, we find Irv. My friend Kristi and I introduce Irv to my parents, and my Mom says to Irv, "It is so nice to meet you. My daughter and her friend have told me so much about you. That you are so nice, funny, and such a good friend." Irv looks back at my Mom with a straight face. Puts one arm around me, and one arm around Kristi and says ... "Well, when you surround by company as beautiful as this, how can you not be happy all the time?" Oh Irv!

Then, before we head out on the town we run into Jerome Bettis. I introduce my parents to Jerome, and my Dad was super excited to meet Jerome. They are actually having quite a lengthy conversation, during which my Dad is holding this gigantic chocolate chip cookie. So Jerome is talking to my Dad ... looking at the cookie ... talking to my Dad .... looking at the cookie. Finally my Dad says, "Son, you're not gonna get the cookie. haha

I could probably tell these stories all day, but those are some of my favorites.

Three days til kickoff ... GO IRISH!


1 comment:

  1. Great story and pictures. Other than BBB (Big Bear Bryant) and Jeff, who lived in the greatest dorm on campus :-), i never met any other football player.

    However when speaking of athletes and coaches, here is a true story:

    I was a reserve fencer for the German National team at the 92 Olympics in Barcelona. So i had some free time. In the Olympic village i bumped into a guy called Auriol (who was the US Fencing Coach and ND coach which i didnt know at the time) and we had a conflict of interest (lets put it that way).

    Weeks/Months later i went on to have a look at the ND fencing team, when i saw Coach Auriol there and thought "Damn, what the heck is going on here" and he points with his finger towards me and "yelled" "What is he doing here…?". Yes, well, i like Coach Yves Auriol.

    BTW in Barcelona i had the pleasure of having met Molly Sullivan, 1980's-University of Notre Dame's Female Athlete of the Decade.

    Counting the days... GO IRISH!!