LATROBE, PA--As the sun set, players of the renowned "Dirty Thirty" team chatted, threw footballs and reminisced about long-lost memories of their Gallaudet football days with Bob Colbert, who is now the head coach at Saint Vincent College. Under Colbert's leadership in 1970 and 1971, the Bison won four games over two seasons:
* 20-0 over Virginia Commonwealth University;
* 25-14 over D.C. Teacher's College;
* 20-8 over American University; and
* 10-6 over Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.*
Dubbed one of, if not the, most memorable teams in Gallaudet's 114-year history of football, for their ferocious intensity, hunger and commitment, the Dirty Thirty's storied legacy continues. The fact that 16 of the 25 (of the 28, three have since passed on) remaining players showed up, laughed, chatted, shared memories as they watched a newer generation of Bison football unfold on the field before them, is testament to the ingrained commitment of the 1971 team.
Bob Ellis, who played tight end on offense and safety on defense, in his charismatic manner, signed: "It's been worth every minute coming to see Coach Colbert, and at the same time the Gallaudet game. Naturally, we always support the Bison and we're proud to see the boys win their first game, snapping a 34-game losing streak; we should remember this moment and always continue carrying it on!"
Another veteran, co-captain Clyde Vincent, who played right guard and middle linebacker, was all smiles as he carried around a football, perhaps remembering the days where he would hunt down opposing players trying to evade his hard hits. "This is a legacy, because we started with 70 players over tryouts, and then before you know it, we're down to 28 by the first game. So, plus the two coaches, that makes 30, hence the "Dirty Thirty" tag, after that popular movie, The Dirty Dozen. All of us played both ways, and we just stuck it through. That's commitment!"
Scott Kramer, who played outside linebacker, chimed in with memories of a would-have-been last game against a New Jersey team: "That team was really strong, and given that we had such a small group, [Coach Colbert] called a special meeting to decide whether to play the game or not. We wanted to go for it, because we wanted to finish the season, but fearing our safety, Coach decided to forfeit the game." "You see, we stuck through it together. These guys are special--I will always remember them."
Flanker/defensive back Ken Pedersen was part of the driving force in making this historic reunion happen. "It feels great to see everything work out, see our old coach, and most of all, see Gallaudet win!" the Californian commented.
Eugene LaCosse, whose big frame helped protect QB Ken Eurek's front side from the right tackle position, said: "It's wonderful to see this happen--it truly gives meaning to the concept of a "legacy.""
Daylight fades as the men who went through turmoil forgot the aches, pains and beatings that are part of football, when all that remains are good memories, rekindled friendships and a strong sense of unity--all that is the foundation of Gallaudet. The men laugh, watch each other relive memories and make way to another reunion with their former coach.
On that sunny fall day, while a historic reunion brought forth timeless memories, newer memories were forged, continuing the legacy that these proud men, this small group, the Dirty Thirty began 36 years ago.
*with thanks to Barry Strassler for compiling information on The Dirty Thirty in the Gallaudet University Football Centennial publication, 1993
There are pictures attached on the Gallaudet University Athletic Website, http://gallaudetathletics.com/sports/fball/2007-08/news/20070904_Dirty30Reunion
Posted: 6 Sep 2007