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 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 of 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.
- 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)