Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, Notre Dame player #45 at the 1975 Georgia Tech game
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish — No. 45|
|Date of birth:August 23, 1948|
|Place of birth: Joliet, Illinois|
|High school: Joliet (IL) Catholic|
|Career highlights and awards|
|The first player to have been carried off the field at Notre Dame. Played only two defensive snaps recording one sack.|
Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger (born August 23, 1948) is a motivational speaker who played college football at the University of Notre Dame. His early life and career at Notre Dame was the inspiration for the 1993 film Rudy.
Early life and college career
Daniel Ruettiger (nicknamed "Rudy") had a hard time in school because he was dyslexic. He was the third of fourteen children. He attended Joliet Catholic High School, where he played for locally famous coach Gordie Gillespie. Ruettiger joined the United States Navy after high school, serving as a yeoman on a communications command ship for two years; then he worked in a power plant for two years. He applied to Notre Dame, but due to his marginal grades he had to do his early college work at nearby Holy Cross College.
After two years at Holy Cross, Ruettiger was accepted as a student at Notre Dame on his fourth try, in the fall of 1974. It was during his time studying at Holy Cross that Ruettiger discovered he had dyslexia.
Ruettiger harbored a dream to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, despite being undersized at merely 5'6" and 165 pounds. Head coach Ara Parseghian encouraged walk-on players from the student body. For example, Notre Dame's 1969 starting center, Mike Oriard, was a walk-on who was eventually nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship and an NFL contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
After working as hard as possible and showing that he was willing to work as much as he needed to, Ruettiger earned a place on the Notre Dame scout team, a practice squad that helps the varsity team practice for games. Merv Johnson was the coach who was instrumental in keeping Rudy on as a scout-team player.
After the 1974 season, Notre Dame coach Parseghian stepped down, and former Green Bay Packers coach Dan Devine was named head coach. In Ruettiger's last opportunity to play for Notre Dame at home, Devine put him into a game as defensive end against Georgia Tech on November 8, 1975. In the movie Rudy, Devine is given a somewhat antagonistic role, not wanting Rudy to dress for his last game. However, in actuality, it was Devine who came up with the idea to dress Rudy. In the final play of Ruettiger's senior season with the Fighting Irish, he recorded a sack, which is all his Notre Dame stat line has ever shown. Ruettiger actually played for three plays. The first play was a kickoff, the second play was an incomplete pass, and on the third (and final) play he sacked Georgia Tech quarterback Rudy Allen. Ruettiger was carried off the field by his teammates following the game. It was later told by Joe Montana on The Dan Patrick Show that while Rudy was carried off the field after the game, the jersey scene in the movie was not accurate. Montana also went on to say, "He worked his butt off to get where he was and to do the things he did."
The inaugural 2007 College Football Rudy Award was held on 8 January 2008 at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The College Football Rudy Award was created by the Rudy Foundation and honors Division I football players who demonstrate what Ruettiger refers to as "The Four C's": character, courage, contribution, and commitment as a member of their team. The 2007 award was presented to Terry Clayton of the University of Kentucky Wildcats and the 2008 award was presented to Drew Combs of the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. The 2009 award-winner was LeVon Morefield of University of Akron Zips, and in 2010 it went to Mark Herzlich of the Boston College Eagles.
On October 14, 2005, Ruettiger was the master of ceremonies at a pep rally for Notre Dame Football. The Fighting Irish were about to play rival and then #1-ranked University of Southern California (USC) the following day and Head Coach Charlie Weis asked some Notre Dame legends, including Tim Brown and Joe Montana, to come back and speak at the rally. Ruettiger came out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium to a loud ovation. Notre Dame ultimately lost the game.
In September 2009, Trusted Sports and Rudy launched the High School Football 'Rudy' Awards, which aims to uncover the "Rudy" on every High School football team in America. The award is presented to the most inspirational High School football player who personifies what Rudy calls "The Four C's": Courage, Character, Commitment, and Contribution. Inspired by the College Football Rudy Awards, three finalists were announced on February 3, 2010. The winner, Calob Leindecker of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received a college scholarship totalling $10,000. Two runners-up, Kyle Weafer of Kansas and Justin Ray Duke of Texas each received $5,000 scholarships.
Ruettiger's story was told in the 1993 film Rudy, which starred actor Sean Astin in the title role as Rudy. The film was written by Angelo Pizzo, directed by David Anspaugh and produced by Rob Fried, both of whom were involved in Hoosiers. Ruettiger appeared in a cameo as a fan behind Rudy's father and brother during the final scene.
In 2011, Ruettiger was charged with securities fraud by the SEC, for participating in a pump-and-dump scheme. Settlement of the case required Ruettiger to pay $382,866 in fines, though he was not required to admit guilt.
- Rudy's Insights for Winning in Life ISBN 978-0-9658119-1-0
- Rudy's Lessons for Young Champions ISBN 978-0-9658119-0-3
- Rudy & Friends ISBN 978-1-880692-39-4
- Honorary Doctorate Degree from Our Lady of Holy Cross College
- The key to numerous cities across the nation along with special proclamations for his inspiration, commitment, and human spirit
- Honorary assist to the Attorney General of Louisiana
- Recognition from President George W. Bush
- Recognition at the White House
- Recognition from the House of Representatives in the state of Texas
- A Proclamation from the Governor of Nevada granting an Official Rudy Award Day
Truth in the movie
Rudy has gone to say that the movie was "98% true" such as how the players did not set down their jerseys. But instead the captain requested he be on the team, as well as no one ever chanted Rudy during that final game. The janitor was also a combo of 3 different characters in that part of his life he stated. but he feels it sticks true to his life at the time.
- Ruettiger's stats on his official website. Rudyint.com. Retrieved on 2012-04-19.
- It's Not All Fun and Games: college athletics, Notre Dame Magazine Online, summer 2002 at the Wayback Machine (archived December 14, 2007)
- Video of final thhree plays on YouTube (2006-08-26). Retrieved on 2012-04-19.
- Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger recording the final sack for Notre Dame against Georgia Tech on November 8th, 1975 on YouTube
- . Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
- Rudy Chasing the Frog. Chasingthefrog.com (1971-02-25). Retrieved on 2012-04-19.
- Dick Weiss, SLIGHTING IRISH HURTS ALLEGED USC TAUNTS INSPIRE NOTRE DAME
- Rudy Award winner 2007 at the Wayback Machine (archived October 20, 2009). rudyawards.com
- The Rudy Award at the Wayback Machine (archived March 5, 2009). rudyawards.com
- "One for the ages: USC edges Notre Dame: Leinart pulls trickery with 3 seconds left, Bush scores 3 TDs in 34–31 win"; msnbc.com. MSNBC. Retrieved on 2012-04-19.
- 67th Grand Conclave – Kappa Zeta For Outstanding Year 2008 – 2009. Kappasigmagsu.com. Retrieved on 2012-04-19.
- "Rudy (1993) – Full Cast and Crew"; imdb.com
- "Rudy Ruettiger: I Shouldn't Have Been Chasing The Money" Forbes Magazine, 6/11/2012
- Pagna, Tom, "Notre Dame's Era of Ara", Diamond Communications, Inc., 1976, ISBN 0-912083-74-3, pp 182–183, regarding Parseghian's use of walk-ons.