Monday, February 15, 2016

Johnny Lattner, Fenwick grad...

...and star football player for Notre Dame who won the Heisman Trophy in 1953, died at age 83. According to his obit in the Times (my emphasis):

Lattner played only one season in the pros. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the first round of the 1954 N.F.L. draft. He ran for five touchdowns, caught passes for two more, made kick returns and was named to the Pro Bowl. But he entered the Air Force in 1955, fulfilling a military commitment from his time in the Notre Dame R.O.T.C., and was assigned to play for a service football team. A knee injury he sustained in a game ended his pro career.

Can you imagine a Heisman Trophy winner dropping out of the pros to serve in the armed forces? Also:

Lattner was featured on the cover of Time magazine in November 1953 and narrowly beat Paul Giel, a tailback at the University of Minnesota, in the Heisman voting. His victory was a tribute to his all-around talents, since he did not lead Notre Dame in rushing, receiving or scoring that year.

Again, can you imagine a Heisman Trophy winner who didn't even lead his own team in those statistics?

Finally, there was this:

There were also rewards away from the field for him and his teammates, as he once told The Chicago Sun-Times, remembering a visit to Hollywood with some teammates before Notre Dame played Southern California at Los Angeles Coliseum:

“We met Marilyn Monroe. There were six of us and she said, ‘Before you go, would you like my autograph on a picture?’  ”

“  ‘We’d love it, Marilyn.’  ”

“She said, ‘What should I say on it?’  ”

“  ‘Well, “To John, thanks for that wonderful night we had together, love and kisses,” with your phone number.’  ”

And, Lattner recalled, that’s just the way she signed it.

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