After Notre Dame’s stunning win at Oklahoma two weeks ago, NBC’s New York City affiliate showed the movie Rudy to cap off the precedent-setting victory. I still cry like a 6-year-old girl whenever I see Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger’s getting carried off the field by his Notre Dame teammates, but the story of Notre Dame’s most-famous walk-on doesn’t have sh*t on Clemson freshman wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez.
Imagine for a second that Rudy cut his underdog canines on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq instead of the steel mills outside Chicago, and used social media as a way to finally make the Irish’s roster. Also, toss in PTSD, witnessing your best friend’s being blown to bits in combat and a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, and you’ve got the best walk-on story since Rudy’s. ESPN’s College Gameday spotlighted Rodriguez’s traumatic journey to Clemson’s roster on Saturday in honor of Veteran’s Day. It’s a worthwhile piece to glimpse, even if ESPN’s proverbial black cloud of doom, Tom Rinaldi, covered it.
Actually, all journalistic tropes aside, this is a phenomenal piece. For those of you who have friends and/or family in the military, it’s especially salient to show that the men serving our country can live successful lives even after witnessing the horrors of defending our country. Rodriguez might be a special case, but his breaking down at Arlington National Cemetery shows that his sacrifices are nothing without the men with whom he served.
As Rodriguez sputters out, “you are the heroes.” Indeed they are.
Click the link to check out College Gameday’s story, and then peep Rodriguez’s leading the Tigers onto the field before their game against Virginia Tech below. Clemson plays Maryland at 3:30 p.m. today on ESPNU.