70 Years Later, Fordham Football Star Not Forgotten
By Kristen MeriwetherEpoch Times Staff
Created: April 12, 2012 Last Updated: April 12, 2012
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NEW YORK—College football in the early 1900s was a different game without much competition from the National Football League. College football was king and Ivy League schools such as Yale, Harvard, and Cornell, dominated. Fordham University, located in the Bronx, was also a powerhouse.
Football was not the modern game played now, but a primitive, often violent version. Leather helmets and thin padding were all that protected the young men from each other’s wrath. Serious injury was not uncommon and every year football claimed the lives of the players who entertained the masses.
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In addition to losing the game, three Fordham players were carted off the field—Paul Howell, John Szymanski, and Cornelius “Connie” Murphy. Szymanski, who had come in to relieve Murphy after his injury, left the field unconscious.
Cornelius “Connie” Murphy in an undated photo. Murphy died from injuries he sustained in a football game on Nov. 21, 1931.
Szymanski was the one that people were worried about and Murphy seemed to recover fine. But on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 1931, a blood vessel suddenly ruptured at the base of Murphy’s brain and he passed away. The death sent shockwaves through the campus and changed generations in the Murphy family forever.
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A Dec. 10, 1931, news clipping from “The Ram,” Fordham’s weekly newspaper, described a solemn tribute mass for Connie that included many students and even football players from nearby New York University, Columbia University, and Manhattan College.
Connie was the first in his family to go to college and was hugely popular on campus, excelling athletically and academically.
“Fordham honors Connie, not for his football fame. For such glory is transient and each year’s star is lost to memory in the brilliance of the following season’s favorite. It is the gentleman, gallant, courageous, clean, that brings to his acquaintances, a sense of loss, to his intimates, a deep-rooted grief,” student Francis J. Bauer wrote in The Ram, which was later reprinted in the Fordham Alumni Magazine.
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[JR: I caught this story in my automagic searches because of the reference to Alma Mater. At first I discarded it, then I thought better of it. There’s a lesson here. No, not “don’t play football without a helmet”. But that our good works are remember far more that we know or expect. And that even our “opponents” are watching our conduct. My Mom gave me her mandate a standard to conduct myself by: “Don’t embarrass us.” So that’s always been the standard, “Can I tell Mom?”. While I’ve fallen short more times than I care to think, and I’m sure my fellow alums never would fail, I do think that this Fordham exemplar can be “stolen” as an honorary Jasper. Even our “opponents” can teach us. This teaches me to think about what I leave behind.]
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