The Three Horsemen and Seven Mules have a new
secret weapon in the backfield.
Rockne appreciated Crowley's light-hearted
approach to life, and tolerated Jimmy's antic notions more than he conceded he should
have. "But Jimmy kept us from getting tense and taking ourselves too seriously. He
was a reminder that college and even football should be fun. If anything, he was our
team's unofficial spokesman."
In more ways than one. On the way home to South Bend after a road game, the train would
often stop for a few moments in small towns. Sometimes there would be a small crowd at the
depot. Crowley would appear on the train observation platform, look out at the crowd
commandingly and then break into an impromptu speech on taxes, immigration, prohibition or
whatever popped into his nimble mind. As often as not, the train would pull out in the
middle of a sentence. The crowd would be puzzled at first but invariably would break into
One day Don Miller visited Jim Crowley when he
coached at Fordham.
"This is Don Miller, boys," Crowley introduced him to his Fordham players.
"He used to play right halfback and block for me at Notre Dame. He also has been an
assistant coach at Georgia Tech and Ohio State. He is going to take the backs down to one
end of the field and give them some tips. I want them to pay very strict attention - and
when he has finished, forget everything that he has said."
"I recall how Rock once psyched me out of my
sox," said Harry Stuhldreher. "it was before an Army game in New York.
Apparently I had bruised a nerve in my throwing arm the previous week. The pain was
terrible. My arm was virtually dead. Rock was very concerned, of course. But he said he
knew a doctor in New York who'd developed a special liniment to loosen dead nerves and
we'd apply it just before the game. So, an hour before the game Rock handed one of our
student managers a brown bottle with some pale-green liniment. The manager rubbed my arm
and put a hot pad on it for fifteen minutes.
"I was all excited and went into that game and threw passes as though nothing had
been wrong with the arm. But immediately after the game it felt numb again.
"The next week, practicing for Princeton, it refused to come around. Again, before
the game, Rock applied the same liniment treatment and I had no trouble with the arm. It
was like that for the rest of the season, and finally when the year was over Rock smiled
and told me the magic liniment invented by the fancy New York specialist was the same
stuff we used at Notre Dame, with a little coloring added. He put it in a different bottle
so I wouldn't recognize it. He knew the excitement of the game would be the only healing
agent I'd need."
Don had four daughters before a son came along. While the
boy was still in diapers, to prove how tough he was, Don related that he had already
thrown a block through a window. "I'm glad," said Jimmy Crowley, "to hear
that a Miller finally threw a block."
One last Crowleyism:
In practice on day, Rockne said to Crowley, after he had muffed a play, "What's
dumber than a dumb Irishman?" And Jimmy replied, "A smart Swede!"
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