Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy …
The familiar theme song floated through my mind as I entered the legendary stadium. I got chills when the ticket taker welcomed me to my first game, and even greater chills when I looked out onto the field. It was quite a sight, and well, quite cold. Ok, not cold — freezing. But even though I could no longer feel my toes after about five minutes, it was quite a feeling.
I tried to equate the experience with the traditions of Lynah and the excitement of an old school Knicks’ playoff game when they would come back from a 20-point deficit to beat the Pacers. I thought these arenas were loud, but nothing could compare to this. For one great day, I became part of the sea of green; I became an Irishman.
In true Fighting Irish spirit, I did the jig and the celtic dance. I paid homage to head coach Ty Willingham and I swayed to the Alma Mater. I shook my keys on third down and yelled “Kill!” more times than I can remember. And somewhere in the middle I jinxed Ole’ Notre Dame.
Now don’t let the German last name fool you. The blue eyes and freckles are straight from the Emerald Isle. I really should have blended in with the Murphy’s and O’Brien’s surrounding me, but somehow they knew.
It was a historic day for Notre Dame. Not sine 1993 had the team been in such a situation. That year the Irish entered its final game ranked No. 1 after defeating Florida State and with a perfect season on the line, lost to Boston College. With historic ramifications at stake this year, an 8-0 record on the line, and the opportunity for a national title within reach, the Eagles once again played the spoiler. Much to the surprise and dismay of all in South Bend, the Irish had officially ended its “return to glory.”
It was the team’s 166th consecutive sellout that had a record setting attendance of 80,935. To the excitement of all, the team entered the field donning green jerseys, a move Willingham said was made to involve the team in the sea of green he has been encouraging the students to create. However, history was to play a role once again. The last time the team wore green it lost in the Fiesta Bowl.
This game was going to be different, though. The Irish were going to be triumphant and I was going to witness it.
I guess not.
Honestly, I’m not quite sure what I did. I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. I wore the green. I drank the beer — uh, I mean juice — at the tailgate. I threw the marshmallows. I even went to the grotto and said a little prayer for the guys. I went so far as to even consider volunteering for crowd pushups, that was until I looked around and saw the state of the upperclassmen surrounding me. Despite these concessions, they knew I was not a true Irish woman.
At first I joked that I had brought the curse of the Red with me after the Eagles took an early lead. But soon it was no longer a joke. With our own football team that week struggling for its third win, the perfect Irish looked more like the Red’s practice squad then the dominant national powerhouse it has been. The Red had infiltrated the Green and it showed.
The Irish fumbled more times than I could count. On fourth down, with one yard to go, down by 14, the team punts. The clincher, however, would have to be when Irish backup Pat Dillingham threw a shovel pass right to BC linebacker Josh Ott who ran 71 yards for a touchdown.
Rather than criticize the team’s mishaps, however, I want to take this moment to apologize to all of the Irish fans and players: the curse of the Red struck. I promise you though, me and my Red-ness took a long bus ride, an airplane flight — filled with ND fans who just kept reminding me that we all had heavy hearts — and a car ride to head out of Indiana and back to Ithaca, taking all of my bad luck with me.
And don’t worry, I know my invite back has been revoked. But thank you for one day of football pride and glory, it will not soon be forgotten. “And our hearts forever, Love thee Notre Dame.”
Archived article by Kristen Haunss