Since there’s so much discussion of who our best players are, I think it’s important to take a principled stand on the subject. Without getting too heavily into philosophy (which shall remain a two-course requirement FOREVER, so don’t bother complaining – you’re lucky you don’t have to take Latin and Greek any more), I want to contemplate the Platonic ideal of a football player. That is, I will now conjure for you the perfect Notre Dame Fighting Irishman. He may or may not exist now or at some point in the future. We can always hope. And in a world where carpenters rise from the dead, anything is possible.
He is intelligent. I’m not saying physicist smart. We don’t want him overthinking basic plays. But he has to be able to outsmart the freakishly large, muscle-bound churls that other teams seem to breed in a human experimentation lab. Besides, he has to meet our famously rigorous academic standards. We are a University, not a state school.
He is fit. He doesn’t have to be perfect and without flaw in body. The essentials will do: good eyesight, ten fingers and toes, no unsightly birthmarks. His hearing need not be exceptional because Professor Kelly has a demonstrable ability to project his voice when necessary. As far as a muscular physique goes, he can develop that on the Spanish torture devices filling the weight room. Who invented those things – the Grand Inquisitor?
He is fast. Speed and agility are two capabilities of which our lad cannot have too much. He must be quick on his feet and able to run like the wind. Or at least faster than South Bend cabbies and coppers.
He is eloquent. Whether it’s during a pep rally or when being peppered by questions from the press, I don’t want a tongue-tied mouth breather embarrassing our school. I’m not asking for Cicero, just a fellow who can string a few sentences together without drooling on himself.
He is witty. I like to be entertained.
He is Irish. The names are easier to pronounce…except those pesky ‘gh’ combinations. All right, he can be any ethnicity so long as the last name is kept to three syllables with a standard spelling. Please, no more Zbikowskis, Chryplewiczs, or the Serbian lad with the name like a species of exotic fruiting plant – Samardzija.
He is Catholic. It’s for his own good and that of his eternal soul. I suppose we can convert him if need be. And no, I don’t mean with those weight room contraptions. Just a little dose of Baptism. It worked on Rockne.
He enjoys rising early, working hard, prayer, and writing letters home to his mother. It might be useful if he knows sign language, at least beyond the use of the middle finger. I do not believe any of this is too much to ask.
He has a delightful singing voice. He also knows ALL the words to ALL of our songs. This is not difficult and should constitute some sort of entrance exam for our freshmen.
His favorite colors are Blue, Gold, and Green. And he looks utterly dashing when wearing them.
His name is Pius O’Hanrahan. O.K…maybe that’s a bridge too far.
Finally, pay very close attention to this last requirement. It is non-negotiable. It is the quintessence of a Notre Dame lad. The sine qua non.
He is a gentlemanly winner. He never, ever loses.