Raider Nation: Reincarnated Jim Thorpe Needed?

Fred KindelContributor IJanuary 18, 2010

Some have criticized us old-timers as living too much in the past. Well, I’m turning on the time-machine and taking you waaaaay back. Consider this:

All yous out there today in Raider Land, have you ever heard of a guy named Jim Thorpe?

Back in the bad ol’ days, that is, back in the early days of football, the main game was college football. Professional football did not come along until 1920. College football came along in 1875.

Carlisle Indian School came along in 1879—the Carlisle Indians. Carlisle ran track and played football against better-known colleges like Harvard, Yale, Army, Michigan, Minnesota, etc.—you name them, Carlisle played them.

You may have heard of a famous college football coach named Glenn Scobie “Pop” Warner (my sons, Tim and Tom, played Pop Warner Football—did yours?). Pop Warner was the coach for Carlisle Indians football for 13 years between 1899 and 1914.

Jim Thorpe played for Carlisle. Wikipedia says of Jim Thorpe: originally a track & field athlete, that Pop Warner was hesitant to allow Thorpe, his star track and field athlete, to compete in a physical game such as football. To try and head off Jim from playing football, Pop gave Jim a tryoutand told him to carry the ball to give the defense tackling practice. Jim carried the ball around, past and through them not once, but twice, and then told Pop, "Nobody is going to tackle Jim." That was the beginning.

“Thorpe gained nationwide attention for the first time in 1911. As a running back, defensive back, placekicker, and punter for his school's football team, Thorpe scored all of his team's points—four field goals and a touchdown—in an 18–15 upset of Harvard. His team finished the season 11–1.” (Wikipedia)

“The following year, he led Carlisle to the national collegiate championship, scoring 25 touchdowns and 198 points. Carlisle's 1912 record included a 27–6 victory over Army. In that game, Thorpe scored a 92-yard touchdown that was nullified by a penalty incurred by a teammate; Thorpe then scored a 97-yard touchdown on the next play. During that game, future President Dwight Eisenhower injured his knee while trying to tackle Thorpe. Eisenhower recalled of Thorpe in a 1961 speech, 'Here and there, there are some people who are supremely endowed. My memory goes back to Jim Thorpe. He never practiced in his life, and he could do anything better than any other football player I ever saw.' Thorpe was awarded All-American honors in both 1911 and 1912." (Wikipedia)

Jim Thorpe  was an athlete. He competed more in track & field than in football. A story from my childhood (I can’t  document it today) is that Jim represented Carlisle in one track meet by himself.  As you may know, there are generally several athletes competing in the several track & field events at a meet.  Jim got off the train at the away event with the other school and was greeted by the other school’s cheer group who said, “Where’s the rest of your team?” Jim replied, “I’m the team.” And he went on to win the track meet by himself—winning enough events against the other school’s athletes to win the overall meet.

And of course many of you will recall that Jim Thorpe won both the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympic Games. Sweden’s King Gustav V, in attendance at the Games, told Thorpe, “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.”

Raider Nation: Don’t the Raiders deserve to have a reincarnated Jim Thorpe to relieve our misery? I guess the problem is, there are so many darn good football athletes out there today, we can’t get a corner on the market?