Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dig One for The Gipper: George Gipp exhumed

They've gone and dug up the Gipper.

The family of George Gipp (left), the Notre Dame football player who died from pneumonia and a strep infection during his senior year in 1920 and inspired Knute Rockne's locker room exhortation to "win one for the Gipper," sought a DNA sample from from the 87-year-dead corpse.

Why? Was George adopted? Is someone claiming to be his love child? Did the fantastically popular Gipper pull an Elvis and fake his own death to escape the limelight? Or is Notre Dame hoping to clone the Gipper to bolster its awful backfield this season? Nobody's telling. But ESPN filmed the exhumation in Laurium, Mich., and a noted sports author was on hand. So we're likely to find out in the good old-fashioned American way: Marketing!

Some cousins believed the exhumation desecrated Gipp's grave and memory, but Gipp was dug up because at least one family member -- reportedly his sister's granddaughter -- asked for it.

I love a mystery, even a fabricated one. After attending the exhumation and autopsy of J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson last March, I'm even more fascinated by what modern forensics can tell us about long-ago deaths of famous people. But I'm not sure we should go digging them up willy-nilly merely to satisfy idle -- and ultimately unimportant -- curiosities.

Perhaps the exhumed Gipper will answer some important questions. I desperately hope he wasn't disturbed just to sell some books.


Anonymous said...

Emil anonymously said: Thanks for mentioning this. I'd seen it other places but now that I know you are on the case I'm sure we'll get the rest of the story (insert air quotes where you think they're needed ;)

Love, Rita said...

Do you know this is your second post concerning exhumations? Seems just a little morbid...should we be concerned about you, Ron?

(And we won't go into just how gosh-awful the concept of a "Sour-toe" cocktail was.)