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An Ogre Encounter ^ | December 26, 2012 | John Ransom

Posted on 12/27/2012 5:33:40 AM PST by Kaslin

In the summer of 1975, four dozen kids hung like monkeys off of a chain link fence waiting for members of the Chicago Tribune’s College All-Star team to exit their locker room after the first day’s practice.

Evanston, Illinois was (and is) a fairly cosmopolitan suburb, just north of Chicago and home to Northwestern University. From 1934 to 1976 the Tribune sponsored a game between pro-bound college players and the NFL champions that was played in late July at Soldier Field. The College All-Star team spent a few weeks every year working out in preparation for their scrimmage against the defending Super Bowl champions at NU’s old Dyche Stadium just across the street from my grade school, St. Athanasius. So every year a large group of kids from St. A’s and neighboring environs would hang out near the locker room exit in hopes of snagging an All-Star.

“Do you need a water boy,” we’d cry out, clutching our jugs of water, jumping up and down to attract attention. In this way, one by one, every player acquired an individual water boy. The water boy, duly chosen, would then sit in the stands for the opportunity to bring real football players water after practice ended.

’75 was the first year that I came to the All-Star’s practice. I was a sort of rookie and not as aggressive as some of the veteran boys. Player after player, as they left the locker room after the first practice, teamed up with boy after boy. I watched for my chance as some of the better known players like QB Steve Bartkowski, LB Robert Brazile and WR Larry Burton came off the board.

that lesson was what football was all about.

Kurt Schumacher played left tackle for Woody Hayes as a two year starter and twice an All-American. He played in two Rose Bowls, winning both in his junior and senior year. He was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 1975 NFL Draft with the twelfth overall pick which had been acquired from the New York Jets. He played for about five years for the Saints, the 49ers and Tampa Bay, his career cut short by a knee injury that today would be rehabilitated through surgery.

These are the least important things that you need to know about Kurt.

More important is that he loved Ohio and married his high-school sweetheart who sat in the stands watching practice with the water boys. He graduated from college, with a major in mathematics, even though it was apparent early in his college career that he was headed for the NFL. After his football career, he returned to Ohio, living in Lorain and Elyria and worked for the Cleveland Public School system at a time when Cleveland schools were struggling to stay afloat. He was a legend in Columbus as a part of what many consider the most dominant offensive line in the history of college football. He could have gone back to Ohio and done anything he chose. He chose to help out. That’s the way Kurt was.

Today, I still have the college helmet Kurt gave me, the one he played in the Rose Bowl with, the one he gave me when he graciously came to my house and had dinner with my family. Some of the plastic buckeyes, the ones they give you in Columbus for great play and which covered the helmet from front to back, have peeled off. But it’s still too big for my head. Over the years, unfortunately, I lost the football that Kurt had signed by every member of the 1975 All-Star team. But I’ve given the helmet to my son who at 8 was already an Ohio State fan. He barely knows who Peyton Manning is, but is convinced that Kurt Schumacher is the greatest player who ever lived.

He only wonders when he’ll meet an NFL-bound player that shows him kindness, treats him royally and teaches him about the little things that make men great.

And so do I.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial

1 posted on 12/27/2012 5:33:42 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
That was as different era, a different NFL, and this remains the greatest TV ad ever:

2 posted on 12/27/2012 5:39:13 AM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack

You got that right, Joe6P. Now we have a bunch of tatted-up narcissistic prima donnas.

3 posted on 12/27/2012 7:41:55 AM PST by T-Bird45 (It feels like the seventies, and it shouldn't.)
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