Seven Blocks of Granite
The Seven Blocks of Granite was a nickname given to the Fordham University football team's offensive line under head coach "Sleepy" Jim Crowley and line coach Frank Leahy. The most famous Seven Blocks of Granite were: Leo Paquin, Johnny Druze, Alex Wojciechowicz, Ed Franco, Al Babartsky, Natty Pierce, and Vince Lombardi.The nickname, however, was also commonly used to referred to the Fordham lines of the 1929, 1930, and 1937 teams but it is the 1936 line which is today the best known of these lines.
In the 1930s, Fordham University was a college football power, as they were consistently a nationally ranked team. In 1936, school publicist Timothy Cohane needed a nickname to spur recognition of his Fordham Rams, who were undefeated halfway through the season and on the verge of possibly their best season ever. The strength of the Fordham team was its offensive line - seven men: center, two guards, two tackles and two ends. In his columns, American sportswriter Grantland Rice had already written "The Fordham Wall Still Stands" in honor of the team and its early season success, but a catchy nickname was still needed — something to rival Notre Dame's famous Four Horsemen. The year before Cohane tried using the "Seven Samsons" to highlight the squad's offensive linemen, but it never caught on. Following on that theme and remembering the caption from a newswire photo he'd seen several years before, Cohane tried the "Seven Blocks of Granite".
Ironically, in its final two games the 1936 team was tied by an inferior University of Georgia team and beaten by a lowly NYU team - ending their hopes of a Rose Bowl appearance. The line was not as good as some of the previous lines at Fordham, or the 1937 team which went 7-0-1. However, the 1936 team and the Seven Blocks of Granite became college football immortals.
Associated with the name, the Rotary Club's Lombardi Award is awarded annually to the best college football lineman or linebacker. The main part of the trophy, awarded to a down lineman on either side of the ball or a linebacker who lines up no further than five yards deep from the ball, is a block of granite, giving homage to Lombardi's college days as a lineman.
The Rams' Offense scored 128 over 8 games, while the Defense held every opponent to no more than 7 points per game, and shut out three teams, including No.3 ranked Pittsburgh. The Rams went 5-0-2 before losing, what Lombardi called; "The most devastating loss of my life," when they lost 7-6 to NYU, and with it, the hopes of playing in the Rose Bowl. The Rams' were No. 3 going into their final game, but ended up No. 15 in the Final AP National Ranking.
- 10/3/1936 Fordham 66 vs. Franklin & Marshall 7 (moved to Triboro Stadium due to World Series).
- 10/10/1936 Fordham 7 vs. SMU 0 30,000
- 10/17/1936 Fordham 20 vs. Waynesburg, Penn. 6
- 10/24/1936 Fordham 7 vs. St. Mary's (Cal.) 6 50,000
- 10/31/1936 Fordham 0 vs. Pittsburgh (AP Rank No.3) 0 57,000
- 11/7/1936 Fordham 15 vs. Purdue 0 40,000
- 11/21/1936 Fordham 7 vs. Georgia 7 35,000
- 11/28/1936 Fordham 6 vs. New York University 7 (Played in Yankee Stadium)
Once again, the Rams' Offense dominated with over 100 points scored in just the first two games, and the Defense held every opponent to no more than 7 points per game, and shut out five teams, including No.1 ranked Pittsburgh, and No. 19 ranked North Carolina. The Rams' went undefeated with a 7-0-1 record, reaching No.3 in the National AP Rankings, only giving up 16 points all season.
- 10/2/1937 Fordham 66 vs. Franklin & Marshall 0
- 10/9/1937 Fordham 48 at Waynesburg, Penn. 0
- 10/16/1937 Fordham 0 vs. Pittsburgh 0 (AP Rank No.1) 53,000
- 10/23/1937 Fordham 7 vs. Texas Christian U. 6 25,000
- 10/30/1937 Fordham 14 at North Carolina (AP Rank No.19) 0
- 11/6/1937 Fordham 21 vs. Purdue 3 40,000
- 11/20/1937 Fordham 6 vs. St. Mary's (Cal.) 0 35,000
- 11/27/1937 Fordham 20 vs. NYU 7 (Played in Yankee Stadium)
- Robert McG. Thomas, Jr., John M. Cannella, 88, Judge in Federal Court for 31 Years, The New York Times," 4 November 1996.
- Captain of Fordham's 'Seven Blocks of Granite' dies, ESPN, 29 December 2005, retrieved 29 December 2008.
- Richard Goldstein, Al Bart, 87, a Member of Fordham's Seven Blocks of Granite, The New York Times, 4 January 2003, retrieved 29 December 2008.
- When Pride Still Mattered, A Life of Vince Lombardi, by David Maraniss, 1999, (ISBN 0-684-84418-4)