Football Legends Revealed #1

This is the first in a series of examinations of football-related legends and whether they are true or false. Here is an archive of other football legends.

Let’s begin!

FOOTBALL LEGEND: The NFL tried to trademark “The Big Game.”

STATUS: True

The National Football League is quite strict when it comes to protecting its trademarks, which include the words and phrases “NFL,” “Super Bowl” and “Super Sunday” (a trademark registered specifically with regards to its use in conjunction with football).

As such, when it comes to hosting Super Bowl parties at churches and bars, the NFL prohibits Super Bowl parties at anywhere that promotes a particular message, which includes churches. In addition, unless you are a place that regularly airs sporting events (like a sports bar), you are constrained from using a TV bigger than 55 inches.

And, of course, you can not use the NFL’s trademarks like “Super Bowl” or “Super Sunday” in your advertisements.

So the most popular alternative is to say “The Big Game,” as in “Come Watch The Big Game This Sunday at 6pm!”

And that’s been the case for years, until the NFL, in 2006, actually registered a trademark claim on the term “The Big Game,” as well!!!

However, on top of a number of companies that advertise on the Super Bowl (like Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Wal-Mart) who protested the move, so, too, did the colleges of Stanford and California, who have been playing an annual match called “The Big Game” for decades!

Ultimately, mostly based on the Stanford/Cal argument, the NFL backed off the attempt to register the claim, but it’s still amazing to think that they actually went as far as to register the mark!

FOOTBALL LEGEND: A paternity test was done on George Gipp – almost seventy-seven years after he died!

STATUS: True

George Gipp was one of the early legends of Notre Dame football, becoming just the second consensus first All-American in Football from the school in 1920, his senior year.

Gipp played for the Notre Dame Varsity for four years between 1916-1920 (his years 21-25), and held many records for decades, including the all-time rushing record, which he held for nearly sixty years!

Gipp played multiple positions for the Fighting Irish, including quarterback, halfback (his main position) and even punter!

He tragically died of a streptococcal throat infection in December of his Senior year (days after leading the Irish to a victory).

Years later, Notre Dame Coach Knute Rockne immortalized Gipp with a motivational speech he gave his team (trailing at halftime as underdogs against an undefeated Army team in 1928) that told them of Gipp’s last words to him:

I’ve got to go, Rock. It’s all right. I’m not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, ask 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.

“Win one for the Gipper!” became a memorable slogan, especially when it was immortalized in the 1940 film, Knute Rocke: All-American (with future United States President Ronald Reagan playing Gipp).

While Gipp was an All-American boy on the field, he also might have been a bit busy off the field, as well, and was actually subject to a paternity test involving a pregnant 18-year-old high school student.

That’s normal enough, except for WHEN the paternity test took place – in 2007!!

In 2007, Gipp’s body was exhumed to do DNA testing to see if he WAS, indeed, the father of a baby who was born within days of Gipp’s death (and who also passed on in 2006).

There was not a match, Gipp was not discovered to be a father seventy-six years after he died.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

3 Responses to “Football Legends Revealed #1”

  1. You do realize that the other legends say “baseball legend” when they are football legends

  2. An interesting side note to the trademark story is that the XFL’s championship game was, if memory serves, informally called “The Big Game At The End.”

    Not sure why the NFL would waste their time with that, though, since there’s obviously enough variations to be used (“Pro Football Championship” comes to mind immediately as an alternate). Then again, it is the NFL. That’s what they do.

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