Biography of Football Legend George The Gipper Gipp Part 2

About the legendary Notre Dame football player George Gipp, history and biography of the man best known as the Gipper.

INCREDIBLE FOOTNOTE ATHLETES

One for the Gipper

In 1920 Rockne and Gipp again led the "Fighting Irish" to an unbeaten season. Gipp racked up 357 yd. as Notre Dame defeated Army, 27--17. His elusive running, deadly spot-passing, instinct for the right play at the right time, and outstanding defensive abilities made him the nation's number-one back. He shunned publicity and refused interviews and requests to pose for photographs.

Gipp did not finish that season. He became ill with a throat infection before the second-to-last game, against Northwestern, and was hospitalized. Released in time for the game, he suited up, but Rockne planned not to use him. Finally, however, the coach bowed to the fans' clamor and sent Gipp in for a few plays. Soon the streptococcal infection got worse, and he was back in the hospital. Antibiotic drugs were not yet in use, and pneumonia set in. Within three weeks, on Dec. 14, 1920, he was dead.

On his deathbed, he told his coach. "Rock, some day when things look real tough for Notre Dame, ask the boys to go out there and win one for the Gipper."

The seed of a legend had been planted, and it flowered on a cold New York afternoon eight years later. On Nov. 12, 1928, in Yankee Stadium before 75,000 fans, unbeaten Army, led by the greatest runner in its history to that time, Chris Cagle, prepared to face off against a dismal Notre Dame eleven. Previously, the Irish and been smashed by Wisconsin, 22--6, and Georgia Tech, 13--0. Just before game time, Knute Rockne gathered his team around him in the locker room. "You've all heard of George Gipp, of course," he said quietly. "You all know that I was at his bedside the day he died. And you may or may not have heard that just before he died he said to me, 'Rock, some day when things look real tough for Notre Dame, ask the boys to go out there and win one for the Gipper.' Well, I've never used Gipp's request until now. This is the time. It's up to you."

An inspired Fighting Irish team took the field and fought Army tooth and nail, holding them to a scoreless tie at the half. In the second half, Notre Dame battered its way to the Army 2-yd. line. On the next play, Notre Dame's best halfback, Jack Chevigny, took the pigskin, could find no opening, then threw himself into the air, catapulting over the Army line and in for a touchdown. Chevigny jumped to his feet, shouting, "That one was for the Gipper!"

Notre Dame toppled Army, 12--6. The next day the New York Daily News gave credit where credit was due. Its headline read: GIPP'S GHOST BEAT ARMY.

The incident was immortalized in the film Knute Rockne, with Pat O'Brien as Rockne and Ronald Reagan as the Gipper.

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