The legacy is a land of myth and legend. Eleven national championships. Seven Heisman trophies. Win one for the Gipper. Ara, stop the rain. Here come the Irish. Catholics vs. convicts. Play like a champion today. The tunnel. The Shirt. Touchdown Jesus. Fair Catch Corby. No. 1 Moses. The Golden Boy and the Comeback Kid. Red Salmon to Rocket. Curly Lambeau, Jesse Harper and Hunk Anderson. The Four Horsemen. The Seven Mules. Harry Oliver’s field goal and Bob Crable’s block. The Bush Push. Sergeant Tim McCarthy. Rudy. Lamonica and Buoniconti. Hart, Hardy, McCoy, Patulski, Alan Page, Zorich, Browner and Fry, Golic, Young and Tuck. The litany of the saints. Dorais to Rockne, Huarte to Snow, Hanratty to Seymour. Theismann to Gatewood. Clements to Weber. Quinn to Samardzija. Tony Rice. Allen Pinkett. Ricky Watters. Nick Eddy. Tim Brown. Bettis and Bleier. David Casper. Each name brings a highlight film of memories. Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden outlined against a blue, gray October sky. Leahy and Lujack, Lattner and Lynch. Clarence Ellis and Luther Bradley. Duerson and Zbikowski. Motts Tonelli and Ziggy Czarobski. Kuechenberg and DiNardo. Golden Tate and Te’o. The Ice Bowl. The Snow Bowl. The Irish Guard. The Victory March. Helmets spray-painted gold. The alma mater, arms on shoulders, postgame rite of communal celebration. Or communal pain. The NBC contract. The zebra with the one red arm. Tailgating. The band on the steps of Bond Hall. Trumpets in the Dome. Drum circle, pep rally, Mass 30 minutes after the conclusion of today’s game. Brats and dogs and steak sandwiches at the K of C. The Meat Squad. The leprechaun. Gerry Faust. Lou Holtz. Bowl trips, bowl games. Subway Alumni. The first-ever Game of the Century: 1935, Notre Dame upsets Ohio State 18-13. Or 1966: 10-10. Or the ’46 Army game: 0-0 at Yankee Stadium. 1988: Notre Dame 31, Miami 30. 1993: Notre Dame 31, Florida State 24. Or 1957 when the Irish drop the Sooners 7-0 to end Oklahoma’s 47-game win streak. Or 1913 when Notre Dame springs the forward pass on Army to lash the Cadets 35-13 and put the precocious Indiana school on the national map. Or 1928 when Rockne pulls out the Gipper speech — “This is the day, and you are the team” — to defeat Army 12-6. The lore, the heroics. Montana’s chicken soup. Dan Devine and the green jerseys to swamp USC. Johnny Lujack’s game-saving tackle. Coley O’Brien. Emil “Six-yard” Sitko. Storied tradition. Institutional identity. Prayers at the Grotto and in Catholic schools across the land. Proud Catholics battling into the American mainstream, and gathering other ethnic and minority underdogs along for the ride. One hundred and twenty-five years in the making. A game, a sport, a ritual, the ceremonies and common language that unifies an international family. And so much more.
Photo from University of Notre Dame Archives.