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Football, Notre Dame And Winning 'For The Gipper'

In this Sept. 15, 1930, photo, coach Knute Rockne puts his football proteges through the first football drill of the season at Cartier Field, South Bend, Ind. Rockne finished his career with an .860 winning percentage and delivered the famous "Win one for the Gipper" speech.
In this Sept. 15, 1930, photo, coach Knute Rockne puts his football proteges through the first football drill of the season at Cartier Field, South Bend, Ind. Rockne finished his career with an .860 winning percentage and delivered the famous "Win one for the Gipper" speech.

It was 75 years ago this week — Oct. 5, 1940 — when the movie Knute Rockne, All-American was released and first we heard, "Rock, some day when the team's up against it, breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they've got, win just one for the Gipper."

It isn't just because a future president of the United States was the actor who uttered it, that this became the single most famous line ever spoken in a sports movie. No, it was because of who the Gipper was playing for: Notre Dame.

Really: think about it. Seventy-five years later, Notre Dame — well, Notre Dame football — remains one of the most enduring things in American sport, in the company of the Kentucky Derby, the Masters, the Harlem Globetrotters and the ivy at Wrigley Field. It is a thing unto itself in college sport.

Click the audio to hear Frank Deford's homage to Notre Dame.

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