Notre Dame won an improbable game against an undefeated and seemingly unstoppable Army team 87 years ago today, thanks in part to the dying wish of one the Fighting Irish's most beloved players, George Gipp.
Two weeks after being selected as Notre Dame's first Walter Camp All-American, Gipp contracted strep throat during a game in his senior season. And before dying on Dec. 14, 1920, Gipp said something to coach Knute Rockne that the coach repeated to his players eight years later in Notre Dame's match against Army.
"I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid," Gipp said, according to Notre Dame's website. "Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys -- tell them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."
And on Nov. 10, 1928, when an injury-riddled 4-2 Notre Dame squad traveled to Yankee Stadium to battle Army, Rockne told his players the message Gipp had for them during his pregame speech: "The day before he died, George Gipp asked me to wait until the situation seemed hopeless -- then ask a Notre Dame team to go out and beat Army for him. This is the day, and you are the team."
Notre Dame won the game 12-6 thanks to two second-half touchdowns, including a one-yard score from Jack Chevigny who, after reaching the endzone, said "That's one for the Gipper."
During his career with the Irish, Gipp was extremely versitle: He could run, pass and even punt for Notre Dame. Gipp rushing mark of 2,341 yards last until 1978, and he was voted in the National Football Hall of Fame in 1951.
Here's a clip from the 1940 movie "Knute Rockne: All-American," where Gipp (played by former president Ronald Reagan) utters the now-famous line:
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