#TBT Sports Blog: Chicago Cubs Fan Steve Bartman

Steve Bartman

Today’s #TBT sports blog painfully recalls the Windy City’s most infamous sports personality – who just happens to be a baseball fan.

On October 14, 2003, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan named Steve Bartman unwittingly found himself in the national spotlight. His dubious distinction was due to one brief, inglorious moment at Chicago’s famed Wrigley Field.

On that fateful day, Bartman’s Cubs were leading 3 – 0 in the top of the 8th inning against the Florida Marlins. Leading the series 3 – 2, Chicago was just five outs away from capturing the National League pennant.

Then, the unthinkable happened. One swing of the bat changed the destiny of the Cubs’ season and Bartman’s life.

A very catchable foul pop off Marlins’ 2B Luis Castillo’s bat floated down the left field line toward where Bartman was sitting.

With a beat on the ball, Cubs’ LF Moises Alou positioned himself to make the catch and inch his team four outs closer to the club’s first World Series since 1945.

Cubs Fan Steve Bartman Unexpectedly Rises From Seat

Unfortunately, Alou had no idea that loyal Cubs fan Steve Bartman would rise from seat #113, aisle 4 and row 8 to unintentionally interfere with his attempted catch. The result proved disastrous for the Cubs.

The Marlins’ bats became energized when the Cubs OF was unable to corral the foul ball. The Florida team proceeded to score eight unanswered runs, forcing the NLCS deciding Game 7 which the Marlins also won.

Sadly, the Bartman mishap turned legendary. It served as a symbol of the Chicago franchise’s continuing frustrations to seek an ever-elusive World Series Championship – which the team ultimately achieved in 2016.

Baseball fans compared the Bartman bungle to Boston Red Sox Bill Buckner’s booted ground ball in the 1986 World Series which perpetuated the Curse of the Bambino myth.

More than a decade after Bartman’s benign interference, the horrifying memory still resonates deeply with Chicago Cubs fans.

Bartman’s action marked the third egregious event in Chicago baseball history. The first event involved the city’s legendary tale of the 1945 Curse of the Billy Goat.

The second harkened back to the notorious tale of a black cat scampering past Ron Santo in the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium. Back then, superstitious Chicago fans believed the appearance of the black cat caused the team’s 1969 epic collapse.

Bartman’s botched attempt yielded him an uncomfortable escort out of the unfriendly atmosphere of The Friendly Confines. He was led out of the stadium under tight security amid taunts, threats and flying debris.

Villainized as the focal point of Cubs’ fans angst, Bartman would begin a self-imposed banishment from Chicago area sporting events. His simple failed attempt at catching a foul pop at a ball game – every baseball fan’s dream – would forever torment him.

Bartman Featured in ESPN 30 for 30 Documentary

In 2011, it even prompted the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary aptly called Catching Hell.

Steve Bartman’s unexpected baseball blunder became the source of epic fodder. Later in 2003 affluent Chicago Cubs fan Grant DePorte spent nearly $114,000 to buy the Bartman ball at auction.

As if burning the memorial relic in infamy wasn’t enough, less than a year later, DePorte detonated the ball in public view.

The obscure young man in glasses, sporting headphones and a green sweatshirt, never would have imagined how simply rising from his seat that fateful night would have sprung him into a lifetime of Chicago sports ignominy.

Though qualifying as neither an athlete nor a team, Steve Bartman also earns a spot as a fan – an infamous one at that – in my FREE book Chicago Sports Icons.

Click HERE to safely download the FREE ebook.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday the 13th Sports Funny: Sudden Death Overtime

sudden deathToday’s Friday the 13th Sports Funny – Sudden Death Overtime – should prod revelers to get into the spirit of this month’s Halloween celebration.

The ominous sounding sports expression – Sudden Death Overtime – is that designated period of time that follows after regulation time when the score of the game is still tied.

This added, tie-breaking time provides a knock-out stage in a game where the next score wins.

So, when the victorious team suddenly scores, it’s exasperating, or deadly, for the loser.

Love the comic above, especially the undertaker measuring #8 in the football uniform for the size of a possible casket.

Sudden Death Overtime Varies By Sport

The NFL, NHL and PGA all have their versions of Sudden Death Overtime, while FIFA recently changed to a new format only a few years ago.

New FIFA rules call for Sudden Death Overtime penalty kicks when two 15 minute periods and five regular penalty shots still result in a deadlocked match.

In other sports, the NHL playoffs have utilized Sudden Death Overtime since 1919.

In the PGA, when a tie calls for another 18 hole round, it’s always followed by a Sudden Death Overtime hole-by-hole playoff if the players are still tied.

In the NFL, a Sudden Death Overtime has recently been updated beginning with the 2011 playoffs.

When it comes to Sudden Death Overtime in any sport, one certain similarity remains; suspenseful, nail biting action is guaranteed to bring fans to the edge of their seats.

Sudden Death Overtime, along with Death Valley, The Executioner, The Embalmer, Scarface, The Undertaker, The Nigerian Nightmare and more famous athletes are featured in my FREE sports comic book – Scary Sports Comics – which you can safely download by clicking on the italicized book title above.

Also, sports fans interested in authentic merchandise and collectibles can visit one of our sports merchandising partners Sports Memorabilia by clicking on their logo below. Please note we earn a small commission if any purchases are made.

Shop for Thousands of 100% Authentic Autographed Sports Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comThe threat of an abrupt ending to anything in life, especially in sports, always grabs our attention.

It certainly may be a callous and morbid way to describe the tie-breaking action to conclude a game.

However, all sports fans are magnetized by the excitement that comes out of Sudden Death Overtime.

With today being Friday the 13th and Halloween only two week away, today’s Friday Sports Funny is a great way to get sports fans into the Halloween spirit!

MIKE – thee ultimate head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Mr. October Reggie Jackson

Mr. October Reggie JacksonIt’s only fitting that Major League Baseball’s Mr. October Reggie Jackson leads off today’s #TBT sports blog.

This Baseball Hall of Fame slugger wore the colorful uniform of the Oakland A’s and the traditional pinstripes of the New York Yankees. He normally starred during the spring and summer months of the Major League Baseball season.

However, Reggie Jackson flourished on the baseball field during the fall.

That’s when he earned his nickname Mr. October.

Late Yankee Thurmon Munson Coined the Name Mr. October

Yankee teammate Thurmon Munson first used the title when questioned during the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Munson told a reporter to interview Jackson. He referred to the Yankee right fielder’s history of fantastic post-season games and said, “Go ask Mr. October.”

A 1999 Cooperstown Hall of Fame inductee, Reginald Martinez Jackson enjoyed a stellar 21-year Major League Baseball career. He retired in 1987. Jackson was a 14-time All-Star who hit 563 dingers, drove in 1,702 runs and batted .262 with 2,584 total hits.

The 1973 American League MVP also had his number 9 jersey retired in Oakland and his number 44 jersey retired in New York. Pretty great accomplishments, indeed!

Reggie Jackson: World Series MVP for Two Different Teams

A clutch hitting right fielder, Jackson had the ability to perform his best during post-season play. Mr. October ranks as the only baseball player ever to be named World Series Most Valuable Player for two different teams. Jackson first won the award in 1973 with the Oakland A’s. He won it again in 1977 in spectacular fashion with the New York Yankees.

Jackson’s World Series numbers are incredible. In 27 Fall Classic appearances, Mr. October belted 10 home runs, drove in 24 runs and batted an impressive .357. He won five world titles. In the deciding Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Jackson hit three consecutive first pitch home runs off of three different Dodger hurlers.

Baseball fans will never forget this amazing Oakland A’s and New York Yankees’ right fielder and his Fall Classic heroics.

In a Boys of Summer sport, this Baseball Hall of Fame player rightfully earned his fitting autumn nickname – Mr. October.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: The Worst Mascot in Sports

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogToday’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog states the obvious.

The post reveals my choice for the undisputed worst mascot in sports.

Sure, I know my pick will ignite a furor of controversy.

Zealots across the globe will vow retribution for my purported irresponsible and incendiary words.

Irish everywhere will call for a holy war.

 

Rumor has it that the Pope will get involved, rosaries will be recited, candles will be lit and special Masses will be held throughout the Catholic world.

I even fear for my own personal safety.

But, somebody, somewhere, sometime had to confess the blatantly obvious, yet never spoken, unadulterated truth.

The worst mascot in all of sports is the University of Notre Dame’s wimpy little leprechaun.

The Fighting irish's Leprechaun Mascot

(Ahhh…it’s out! And what a relief God’s proverbial lightning hasn’t yet struck me dead!)

What’s up with this miniature beanpole clad in ridiculous kelly green shorts, knee high argyles, stevedor hat and all too corny corn cob pipe?

An Abomination to the Catholic Faith

What’s he weigh in at? Maybe 97 pounds soaking wet. If this isn’t an abomination to the Catholic faith!

This Irish pipsqueak doesn’t look like he’s fighting; rather, he looks as if he’s shaking in his shamrocks every time he takes to the field.

Exactly who’d this little tike beat out for the mascot job? Some 90 year old nun? I doubt if he could even intimidate a Telletubby.

Enough of this blasphemy! The Fighting Irish need a real mascot like a bear, wolf, tiger, shark or some carnivorous creature spewing fire and brimstone.

Otherwise, the University of Notre Dame’s little greenie weenie will always get my vote, and probably every other sports fan’s, as the worst mascot in sports.

And, that’s my 2 cents!

Notre Dame Fighting Irish gear at Fanatics.comFor diehard Fighting Irish fans interested in authentic University of Notre Dame merchandise, simply click on the Fanatics ad above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: NCAA Football’s Galloping Ghost Red Grange

Fomer Illinois running back Red GrangeToday’s #TBT Sports Blog features Red Grange – one of NCAA football’s greatest players of all time.

My post recalls Grange – an incomparable college football player with the unforgettable nickname – The Galloping Ghost.

In 2008, ESPN.com called Red Grange, an electrifying running back and kick returner, the greatest college football player ever.

However, 90 years earlier it was Chicago sportswriter Warren Brown who attributed The Galloping Ghost name to Harold Edward “Red” Grange.

Grange earned the Galloping Ghost moniker because of his race horse speed and quick, ghostlike movements that avoided tacklers in the open field.

Tackling Grange was like trying to lasso a fast moving cloud driven by a strong wind in a large open field. Few defenders ever succeeded.

A three-time All American at the University of Illinois, the 5’11″ and 175 lb. Grange led the Illini to an undefeated season and college football’s national championship in 1923.

The Galloping Ghost’s Best College Game

The Galloping Ghost’s best college game was against Michigan on October 18, 1924. Most college football fans called it the greatest individual performance in the history of college football.

Against the Illini’s fiercest rival, Grange spooked the Wolverine defense by racing the game’s opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. He scored three more times on runs of 67, 56 and 44 yards – all within the first 12 minutes of the game.

There was no television or internet back in The Galloping Ghost’s era. Instead, TIME Magazine highlighted Grange’s amazing college career by including The Galloping Ghost on the cover of its October 1925 issue. It was a huge national honor.

An original member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, Grange signed with the Chicago Bears immediately after college. Grange is also a history maker for the professional sport of football.

Back in the 1920s, professional football was only beginning to form nationally, and Grange became instrumental in its initial success.

Grange participated in a 67 day, 19 game cross-country series of exhibition games. For his efforts, The Galloping Ghost pocketed an incredible $100,000 for his role. The other players were paid only $100 per game.

Chicago Bears’ Owner Calls Red Grange Best RB Ever

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame owner George Halas called Grange the greatest running back he had ever seen. Unfortunately, The Galloping Ghost suffered a terrible knee injury in 1927 that inevitably shortened his professionally career.

The highlight of #77′s NFL career came in 1933. Grange made a heroic game saving play on defense in the closing seconds of the NFL’s first ever Championship Game held at Wrigley Field.

The spirit of this Galloping Ghost will always live on. And, today’s #TBT Sports Blog rekindles the fiery spirit of this amazing college football player.

Red Grange passed away in 1991, but today let’s remember the elusive, fast gridiron great whom ESPN.com recognized as the best college football player of all time.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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International Podcast Day: Celebrating The Sports Bra! Yup!

MIKE on sports podcastTo celebrate International Podcast Day, I’m happy to share my most popular podcast ever.

It’s available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

The monologue is simply named The Sports Bra.

That’s right – The Sports Bra – that essential piece of supposed intimate attire that never gets any attention – until now!

My one minute rant focuses on a sensitive topic I’ve always wanted to ask about the sports bra.

The Sports Bra: Made For Men Too?

Who hasn’t thought about why sports bras aren’t manufactured for men, too, especially big beefy boys bouncing at the beach?

Plus-sized guys need just as much support, maybe even more, than pleasantly plump glorious gals.

However, bras are always associated with women. Yet, it’s evident to all that some men are better candidates for this prized piece of unseen athletic wear that Jerry Seinfeld once made famous by naming it the “manzier.”

Click HERE and listen to my 60 second take on the sports world’s over the shoulder bolder holder.

It’ll get you thinking about equal pancake protection for guys.

And, if you like my MIKE on Sports! podcast, please subscribe on iTunes.

Also, share it with your sports buddies. It’s guaranteed to make you laugh.

Happy International Podcast Day and have a great weekend.

Shop for Official Game Day Gear at Fanatics!Also, you don’t need to wear a sports bra or be a plus size guy to love great sports apparel. For fans interested in authentic sports merchandise or collectibles, simply click on the Fanatics logo above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Major League Baseball’s Shoeless Joe Jackson

MIKE Comic 70 Shoeless Joe JacksonToday’s #TBT sports blog features Shoeless Joe Jackson – one of the most enigmatic as well as talented Major League Baseball players ever.

Baseball fans have always been intrigued by the genesis of Jackson’s legendary Shoeless nickname. That’s because Jackson actually removed his new cleats because of a blister, then batted in his socks and ran the bases shoeless.

Yes, the lore was true. Witnesses indicated that way back in 1906, a heckling fan at an amateur baseball game in Anderson, SC coined the name Shoeless as Joe Jackson ran to third base wearing no cleats.

Joe Jackson Famous For More Than His Shoeless Nickname

Joe Jackson’s Shoeless nickname is not the only thing for which this 12-year major league star is immediately and infamously remembered.

Believed to be illiterate, Jackson could certainly read pitches. He currently retains the third highest batting average in Major League Baseball history. Purportedly, Babe Ruth emulated Jackson’s hitting stance after Shoeless Joe hit .408 as a rookie in 1911, a record that still stands today.

At #12 in my sports comic book Favorite Sports Nicknames, Shoeless Joe Jackson is not immediately recognized for his hitting prowess. Unfortunately, Jackson’s baseball legacy has been forever sullied.

Favorite Sports NicknamesShoeless Joe Jackson was implicated, but never indicted, in the legendary 1919 World Series scandal memorialized in the movie Eight Men Out. His name is also referenced in movies like The Natural starring Robert Redford, and Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner.

Coincidentally, today – September 28th – marks the day that the US. Government actually indicted 8 players purportedly involved in the scheme.

Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven of his Chicago White Sox teammates were accused of fixing the 1919 Fall Classic in which they lost to the underdog Cincinnati Reds.

Since the White Sox supposedly soiled the game with their scheme, the alleged fix became forever known as the Black Sox Scandal.

Shoeless Joe Jackson Acquitted in 1921

Although acquitted in 1921 by a Chicago Grand Jury, the other White Sox players, along with Jackson, were banned from baseball by newly appointed commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Joe Jackson passed away in 1951. He spent nearly 30 years of his post baseball life proclaiming that he was not involved in the scheme.

Major League Baseball records and subsequent accounts point to his innocence. He hit an impressive .375 in the 1919 World Series with error less play in the outfield.

As we look back on this prolific player’s checkered past, it may not be so that he participated in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.

What is certainly so, and should never be forgotten, is that Shoeless Joe Jackson was a fabulous baseball player.

He’s worthy to be acknowledged as #35 on The Sporting News’ list of the top 100 Major League Baseball players ever.

And, I’m happy to report on him in today’s #TBT sports blog.Shop for Thousands of 100% Authentic Autographed Sports Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comAlso, for fans interested in authentic sports merchandise or collectibles, simply click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: R.I.P. Boxing’s Raging Bull Jake La Motta

Raging Bull Jake LaMottaToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers boxing’s legendary Raging Bull – Jake LaMotta – who passed away this week at age 95.

Most fighters would think twice before squaring off in the ring against an angry bull of a guy.

But, for opponents in the ring facing the focus of today’s #TBT sports blog, no better nickname expressed the fear and intimidation he wielded as boxing’s Raging Bull.

The always snarling Jake La Motta charged opponents like a bull exploding out of a pen to attack a matador.

This Raging Bull’s bullish boxing style, along with incredible stamina to survive severe beatings in the ring, contributed to his boxing success.

A member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, La Motta reached the pinnacle of his profession when he knocked out Frenchman Marcel Cerdan in 1949. He captured the World Middleweight Title, a championship that he successfully defended twice.

Named by Ring Magazine as one of the top ten middleweight fighters ever, La Motta retired in 1954 with a career record of 83 wins (30 by knockout), 19 losses and 4 draws.

La Motta’s most notable fights pitted him six times against Sugar Ray Robinson, one of boxing’s all time greats. Their February 14, 1952 bout became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The bloodied Raging Bull ferociously fought the superior Robinson for 13 rounds before the fight was mercifully stopped and awarded to Sugar Ray.

This fighter’s life outside the boxing ring is as controversial as his accomplishments inside the ropes.

La Motta Autobiography Raging Bull: My Story

Chronicled in his autobiography Raging Bull:My Story, La Motta’s father forced him into fighting at an early age in order to entertain neighbors for money and subsidize the family’s income.

Complex and troubled, La Motta also threw plenty of punches outside the ring. He once confessed to beating up a bookie and left him for dead. He also admitted to hitting his first wife Vikki so hard that he thought he had killed her.

In addition, the menacing Raging Bull admitted to throwing a November 14, 1947 fight against Billy Fox. He supposedly wanted to endear himself to the Mafia.

Accomplished Hollywood Director Martin Scorsese eventually adapted La Motta’s autobiography. The critically acclaimed movie, in which Robert De Niro played the real Raging Bull, won an Academy Award.

In my sports comic book on Favorite Boxers, I feature La Motta in chapter 10.

Favorite BoxersThough I cringe when learning about La Motta’s bad behavior, violent temper and poor decisions in life, I also admire his indomitable spirit to overcome a horrific childhood and excel as a professional boxer.

In his post boxing days, Jake La Motta married seven times. He also pursued other surprising entertainment endeavors like stand-up comedy and ownership of a baseball team.

Since hanging up his gloves five decades ago, La Motta has relentlessly attacked every new venture as if it where one of his former opponents in the ring.

However, anyone who comes close to this colorful, complicated character knows to be as cautious around him as a matador.

And, that’s no bull. R.I.P. Jake LaMotta.

Shop for Thousands of Authentic Autographed Boxing Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comFor boxing fans interested in authentic Jake LaMotta collectibles, simply click on the Sports Memorabilia image above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Heavyweight Division in Gymnastics

Heavyweight GymnastsToday’s Friday Sports Funny focuses on the Olympic sport of gymnastics

That’s because the sport confuses me. I’m perplexed.

Why does gymnastics discriminate against bigger boned bodies.

Yes, I’m lamenting why larger ladies and girthier guys who would like to wear leotards are getting shafted.

If boxing and wrestling have a myriad of divisions ranging from pint size featherweights to hulking heavyweights, why can’t the same be true of gymnastics?

Gymnastics Discriminates Against Big People

Gymnastics discriminates against big people. Have you ever seen a gymnast taller than 5 feet or heavier than 100 lbs? Of course not!

Listen to my podcast on the Heavyweight Division in Gymnastics and finish your work week with some clever sports humor. Click on the yellow cover below to hear.

MIKE on sports podcastI say we petition the International Olympic Committee to widen the balance beam, reinforce the parallel bars and prepare the pommel horse for some pretty powerful pounding.

Let’s start making XXXL tutus, or in gymnastics lingo, extremely large leotards instead.

Let’s propose a new heavyweight division in gymnastics. Then, we’ll witness television ratings skyrocketing to Olympic sized proportions.

Imagine eager audiences drooling over the prospects of witnessing a 300 lb. hairy-backed Russian named Boris barrel down the mat to mount the uneven bars.

The giant gymnast would not only test the strength of the balance beam, but he’d also somersault, I mean salto, to seismic shakes in the floor exercises.

The entire arena would tremble from his dramatic dismounts.

Like WWE spectators, a new breed of frenetically frothing gymnastics fans would be born overnight.

High browed gymnastics judges would probably chafe at the audacity of including beefier competitors in such a dainty sport.

However, this once confusing sport would become instantly popular.

A New Heavyweight Division in Gymnastics Would Be Awesome

A new heavyweight division in gymnastics would be awesome.

It would be the next Summer Olympic Games’ heralded perfect 10!

Shop for Thousands of 100% Authentic Autographed Sports Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comAlso, for fans interested in authentic sports merchandise or Olympic Games collectibles, simply click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Two-Time Heisman Trophy Winner Archie Griffin

MIKE Comic 130 Archie GriffinCollege football’s only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, Archie Griffin, effortlessly rushes into today’s #TBT sports blog.

A former standout for the Ohio State University Buckeyes, Archie Griffin led the Big Ten in rushing for three consecutive seasons.

The 1974 and 1975 Heisman Trophy recipient is the only player in Big Ten history to win four Big Ten football titles and start in four Rose Bowl games.

Legendary Ohio State University football coach Woody Hayes called Archie Griffin the best football player he had ever seen. Few people, even Michigan Wolverine diehards, would disagree.

Despite his short 5’9” stature, Griffin utilized incredible speed and power to consistently break multiple tackles every time he carried the football. It’s no surprise that today’s #TBT sports blog features Griffin’s many college football exploits.

Griffin’s Ohio State Debut Was Forgettable

Ironically, Griffin did not begin his storied college career as one might expect. In his first game as a freshman running back in 1972, the Buckeye fumbled his only possession of the game and returned to the sidelines.

However, the Buckeyes running back bounced back quickly. In his second game as a freshman, Griffin ran for an amazing 239 yards. He proceeded to rush for 100 yards or more for 31 consecutive games, an NCAA record.

Archie Griffin’s incredible college career culminated in 1976 when he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 24th pick in the 1st round. He played for the Bengals for seven seasons.

Soon after, Griffin returned to his home town of Columbus, OH where Ohio State is also located. The modest two-time Heisman winner was immediately welcomed into the school’s administration and eventually became President of the School’s Alumni Association.

Two-Time Heisman Winner Archie Griffin’s Famous Quote

Archie Griffin’s apparent toughness, speed and power are best remembered in a quote credited to this former Buckeye, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

College football history clearly shows that former Ohio State Buckeye and two-time Heisman Trophy Archie Griffin winner possessed a whole lot of bark and bite whenever he carried the football.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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