Michigan Football http://www.jimbrandstatter.com/brandys-blog/michigan-football.html Keep updated with Michigan Football information. en-us Michigan Football Farewell, Men of Michigan http://www.jimbrandstatter.com/brandys-blog/michigan-football/Farewell-Men-of-Michigan_AE100.html
It is with heavy heart that I write this blog. Yesterday the captain of the 1969 Michigan Football Team, Jim Mandich, lost his battle with cancer. I needed to address this loss, and other losses we've had as a Michigan Football family recently. Last fall, you remember, Ron Kramer died, just a couple of weeks ago, Vada Murray passed away.
These are difficult losses to deal with, and with Mandich passing away yesterday it's just too much. In their own way, all three of these guys were icons for the Wolverines, and all three of their losses affect me. Mandich though, is very difficult. You see, Jim was my first captain as a varsity football player at Michigan. He tought us youngsters by his play and his example what it meant to play football at Michigan. He taught us what it meant to be a Michigan man.
As sophomores, we really looked up to the older guys, and with Schembechler coming in and rattling our cages as he did that first spring, the leadership of Mandich and his class was one of the main forces that held us together. Without them, without their steadfast committment to Michigan and Bo, Lord knows what may have happened. I truly believe that these guys were the foundation of the resurgence of Michigan Football under Bo. Anything and everything that has happened since that time in this football program, all the great success that it has enjoyed has been built in no small part on the backs of those young men that Jim Mandich led in 1969.
I'm not trying to rewrite history here. All that has followed since 1969 has been the result of a lot of great coaching, great players, and great recruiting. Clearly there are hundreds responsible for all of this. As Bo was so brilliant to say, it was about the team, the team, the team. With that credo, Michigan has scaled the heights.
But, at a moment in time many years ago, a group came together. They were unaware of it at the time, but it was an historic moment in time. They were at a junction where the tipping point might have gone either way. Led by the likes of Jim Mandich, the tip down the mountain never happened, instead, a steady climb up the mountain and unparalelled achievement followed.
Mandich does indeed hold a special spot in Michigan Football history. For me it's personal, he was my captain. For Michigan, he is one of the leaders and best we sing about in the fight song. His contribution was immense, and along with the Dierdorf's, Caldorazzo's, Craw's, Pryor's, Hill's, Moorehead's, Johnson's, Huff's, and others who thought just like Mandich, Michigan Football flourished.
God Bless you and keep you Jim Mandich. A great husband and father. A solid community leader after his playing days were over. We stood on his shoulders to reach places we never thought we could reach. A Michigan man of the highest order, and one of the true leaders and best!
Farewell to "The Legend" 9/16/10 http://www.jimbrandstatter.com/brandys-blog/michigan-football/Farewell-to-The-Legend-91610_AE40.html
It has taken me a while to get to this, but, after long thought, I needed to post some comments on the passing of my friend and Michigan Football legend Ron Kramer.
Those of us who are Michigan Football fans, former players, or just lovers of Michigan understand the concept of the Michigan Tradition. Well, with Kramer's death last Saturday prior to the Notre Dame game, a piece of the living tradition was gone forever. Just having him around, reminded me of the Crislers, Oosterbaans, and other names from the past. He was our connection to another time. He was our historical connection to what I consider the legendary Michigan past. That's why I called him "The Legend." He was truly a living legend, and I will miss him dearly, as many will who knew him.
His athletic prowess was unsurpassed. 9 letters at Michigan. A basketball career in the Big Ten that was record breaking. A football career that required his number be retired after his senior year because his impact on Michigan football was so profound. He would walk over from a spring practice session in football to Ferry Field and compete in track and win events. Drafted in the NFL he won world championships, none other than Mike Ditka called him the best blocking tight end in the history of the game. Frank Beckmann calls him the Jim Thorpe of Michigan, and he's right. There has never been an athlete like him in this State ever! These accomplishments and honors are all documented, they are in the recrod books, but he was much more than that to those who knew him.
He had a larger than life personality. He was eccentric, gruff, loveable, impulsive, and immensely entertaining. The first time you met him, you might have been taken aback, and not sure about him, but after a few minutes, you found yourself taken in by a man who could be friends with presidents and cab drivers alike. He was one of a kind.
The most amazing thing about him was his love for Michigan. His spirit enveloped you. The force of that affection for Michigan athletics infected anyone who got near him. He had numerous awards and honors that came his way as a pro athlete. He had two world championship pro football rings, and yet what he wore on his finger most often was his "M" ring that signified his years as a Michigan football player. I have that same ring. Because Ron Kramer wore his to the day he died speaks volumes about his love for Michigan. His actions to wear that ring in many ways makes the ring I wear on my finger more valuable. You see it is my belief that if he felt that strongly about that "M" ring it makes that ring really special indeed.
If he made that ring the jewelry of his choice, then it takes on an even more profound meaning to me, becasue he was who he was. He believed in class and character. He believed in being the leaders and best. He belongs to be mentioned in the same breath as Yost, Crisler, Harmon, Ford, Schembechler and any others you choose. He may have left us, but there is no way his spirit and impact on Michigan will ever leave us. Thats why the Michigan tradition is as strong as it is. Men like Ron Kramer make up the fabric of that tradition which is impossible to tear apart.
God bless you and keep you "legend," we wil miss you.