September 09, 2010
Biopic fans will be shocked – shocked! – to learn that Hollywood takes liberties with the real-life narratives and characters that often come to stand in for history in the popular imagination. In the case of the enduring 1993 hit "Rudy," the film was so unrecognizably warped beyond the existence of an undersized Notre Dame player who registered an improbable sack against Georgia Tech in 1975 that former Irish coach Dan Devine called certain scenes – notably the climactic moment when Rudy's teammates confront Devine's villainous character by handing in their jerseys to get Rudy on the dress list, and later his reluctance to actually put Rudy in the game – "unforgivable" and "a lie."
Hall of Famer Joe Montana, then a lowly freshman lingering somewhere on the depth chart, doesn't remember it quite as harshly. But as he told radio host Dan Patrick on Wednesday, he certainly doesn't remember any uplifting strings swelling in the rafters, either:
DP: Were you there when Rudy was there?
JM: Yeah. It's a movie, remember. Not all of that is true.
DP: What wasn't true?
JM: Well, the crowd wasn't chanting. No one threw in their jerseys. He did get in the game. He got carried off [at the end of] the game. [...] Back then they tried to play someone at the end of [the season] that all the seniors could get in the last home game. The schedule was kind of set that way.
So he got in. He did get a sack. And then the guys carried him off, just playing around. I won't say it was a joke, but it was playing around. He worked his butt off to get where he was and to do the things he did. But not any harder than anyone else.
And so reality continues its long unbeaten streak against trumped-up sentiment – not that Rudy Ruettiger minds, now that he's parlayed his 15 minutes into a steady career as motivational speaker and "corporate trainer." I suppose anyone who's able to inspire and sell a bogus feel-good movie about himself being a run-of-the-mill scrub is destined for success.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.