Twentieth Anniversary: Rudy (1993)

We here at Abnormal Use live and work in a part of the country in which college football is a religion.  Friday conversations predict how our favorite teams will do, and Monday conversations feature the analysis of how they did.  In light of this, we must recognize that the movie Rudy will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its release on this coming Sunday.

Directed by David Anspaugh, and starring Sean Astin as former Notre Dame college football player Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, the film was originally released on October 13, 1993. It was the first movie that the Notre Dame administration allowed to be shot on campus since 1940.  Of note, Rudy was named one of the best 25 sports movies of the previous 25 years by ESPN.

Set in 1974, the movie was shot during the fall of 1991.  Our own GWB partner, Notre Dame alum Chris Kelly, was “featured prominently” in the movie, appearing in approximately four seconds worth of footage of the University of Notre Dame marching band (“The Band of the Fighting Irish!”).  (You have to look pretty hard to see him, but we here at Abnormal Use humor him, as we must all do with most Notre Dame fans.) Let’s see if you can spot him in these two screen shots we recently pulled from the Rudy DVD:

To be honest, we never believed Mr. Kelly, but he has now produced clear and convincing visual evidence of his cinematic stardom, right?

The film offered a trip back into college football and life in the 1970’s in the context of a feel good story.  When the movie was released in 1993, it provided an interesting contrast between modern football and the relative innocence of the game just a few decades before.  In the twenty years since its release, it is fair to say that college football, and football generally, has continued to change.  The college football of the 1990’s was big business, but now, it is an enormous economic enterprise fueled by 24/7 sports television.  There are still feel good stories to be told. but you have to dig past the branding and rush for revenue to find them. Some days, that’s no small feat. As the commercial enterprise of the sport has increased, so too have its legal issues.  In addition to litigation arising out of consolidation and destruction of conferences/markets, use of images of college athletes, compensation of players and NCAA rules enforcement, or lack thereof, we are seeing product liability and mass tort litigation related to concussions and helmet technology on both the pro and college level (note for the record we refrained from saying “amateur level”).  The immensity of the financial boon resulting from the fervor to cheer on the old alma mater has engendered an enormous amount of legal issues and litigation as the almighty dollar works its magic.

So we here at Abnormal Use will raise a glass of Guinness on this day and toast Rudy Ruettiger and the era when college football was more pure and played by student athletes that were thrilled to simply obtain a top notch education for free while playing a kids game. 

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