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Stories That Make the Fighting Irish | KFP Articles
Stories That Make the Fighting Irish PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 15 September 2012 20:38

Notre Dame football has a storied past and highlighted throughout its history are stories with Faith that inspire and are the backbone of the true spirit of Notre Dame.  However, there are certain circles where its difficult to speak about Fighting Irish football and the University of Notre Dame.  I've always been a big fan of Irish football and its part of being Irish and Catholic where I come from but some will sarcastically ask 'but I thought you were Catholic, why would you root for Notre Dame.'  Now, there have been obvious problems such as the honoring of Barack Obama, theologians like McBrien, and a story has been floated that they are making an effort to be more gay friendly.  And now, a recent story related to football highlights the comments of Allen Pinket who said that Notre Dame needs to be willing to bring in more unsavory characters or "bad citizens" as he called them in order to be successful.  The Ars Orandi blog expresses the sentiment of concern for the Catholicity of Notre Dame very well suggesting that Notre Dame has been putting money and prestige above the Faith:

the word “tradition” elicits visions of the Four Horsemen, the Gipper and Knute Rockne, and all those images are divorced of anything specifically Catholic. Of course, there’s nothing wrong, in and of themselves, with these things from the University’s storied past. The problem is, they have been removed from their Catholic context by the marketers and profiteers, and the result hasn't been positive for the institution’s self-image and identity. The new stadium is proof of this. In a colossal act of (perhaps) unintended symbolism, the University closed the stadium off to “Touchdown-Jesus”, as though the school were saying, "you fans shouldn't have to be bothered by even an artistically meager rendition of the Resurrected Christ". God forbid that religion get in the way of a good football game.

My own experience at Notre Dame was highlighted by a pro-life conference, daily Mass in the dorms and a beautiful liturgy on Palm Sunday in the Basilica.  The light of the Catholic Faith still lives on at Notre Dame, albeit in a more challenging dialogue with the culture, but we must make the effort to be attentive to the stories that continue to keep the Faith alive.  Its not about the irreligious football players that enter the Basilica wearing headphones with their mind entirely elsewhere.  Its about people like T.J. Jones and the Faith of his family.  Thomas O'Toole, a writer for Rant Sports and also known as the Catholic blogger Fighting Irish Thomas, has a wonderful story about Faith, Family and Notre Dame football.

You see, Andre Jones was a starting linebacker for the 1988 Notre Dame championship team. T.J.’s dad was also his biggest critic and biggest fan. They spent hours together, T.J. living his Notre Dame dream, his father reliving his time on the Irish sidelines through his son. But, suddenly in the summer between T.J.’s freshman and sophomore years, his seemingly invincible father died of a brain aneurysm at the age of forty-two, and the dreams all came crashing down.  No more post-game debriefings followed the intentionally long drives home from the airport. No more requests to light a candle in the grotto for someone his father knew. No more emotional moments by his father when he ran out on the field...For all this, I think Jones deserves a special nickname, and I think I've found it. As long as he plays for the Irish, I think the “T.J.” should stand for “Touchdown Jesus,” not because he’s making a cocky comparison of himself to the Savior, but because his closest friend, his dad, now lives with Touchdown Jesus Himself. And then, whenever T.J. scores, the crowd will look up at the mural and think not only about the Christ, but the Notre Dame linebacker who defends Him. And his fathers — both his heavenly Father and Andre — will, in the words of George Gipp, “know about it…and will be happy.”

Follow Fighting Irish Thomas at Rant Sports: http://www.rantsports.com/ncaa-football/author/tomotoole/
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