December 27, 2006

Former star center for two University of Michigan national championship teams, Gerald R. Ford, dead at 93.: Oh and he was also President of the United States for awhile too.

posted by commander cody to football at 12:18 AM - 31 comments

The rarest of the rare, an honest politician and a genuinely good guy. Warm, friendly, open and the only republican I've ever voted for. RIP Jerry and my condolences to Betty, the children and grandchildren.

posted by commander cody at 01:00 AM on December 27

The only president never to be elected.

posted by apoch at 03:13 AM on December 27

he holds the record for falling down Air Force One's stairs and two attempted assassinations by women (one of those being Charles Manson's zombies) and the only president not elected to office, RIP.

posted by texasred at 05:53 AM on December 27

I didn't know that Ford was a college football player, playing center for the Wolverines and being named the team's MVP in 1934. Anyone know if he had game?

posted by rcade at 07:26 AM on December 27

Anyone know if he had game? I don't, but apparently he was a mad lifelong fan, as you'd expect. Fine fella who more than once took one for the team. Rest in well-earned peace.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:38 AM on December 27

Ford was a very successful football player, but he did not carry the sport any further, because he saw no future in the sport. Excerpt from his biography. I guess he was a model once, too. Very interesting life he lead. It's a shame that it took his death for me to read up on him. I've only heard the parodies.

posted by wingnut4life at 08:24 AM on December 27

Wikipedia says (with citations) that Ford was part of the 1935 collegiate all-star team and the center on a Michigan team that went undefeated in 1932 and 1933. He was offered contracts by both the Packers and the Lions, but turned them down to enter law school. I've read elsewhere that he was unquestionably the finest athlete among modern presidents - though George H. W. was no slouch on the diamond.

posted by Venicemenace at 08:25 AM on December 27

I didn't know that Ford was a college football player You obviously weren't a big Johnny Carson fan. He made a career out of "Gerald Ford Played Football Before Helmets" jokes.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 08:45 AM on December 27

Ford inherited the office in a very difficult time, and was thrust right into the middle of some very big issues, and played out the hand he was dealt pretty well. His legacy as a politician aside, I always enjoyed watching he and Bob Hope play in the same group at Pebble Beach and The Hope Classic for several years after he left office. After Ford hit a spectator in the gallery one year with an errant tee shot, Bob's repertoire`of golf jokes became much greater: "We have 51 golf courses in Palm Springs, and he (Ford) never decides which one he is playing until after he hits his first tee shot." "Whenever I play with him (Ford), I usually try to make it a foursome - myself, the President, a paramedic, and a faith healer. "The last time I played golf with President Ford, he hit a birdie, and an eagle. And a moose, an elk and an aardvark... "It's not hard to find Gerry (Ford) on a golf course, just follow the wounded." We throw the word great around here pretty loosely, but Mr. Ford accomplished much more than any of the athletes we heap the word on, IMO. I thank him for his service in public office, and may he RIP.

posted by mjkredliner at 09:06 AM on December 27

Regarding President Ford's golfing abilities, he did score a hole-in-one at the 1977 (I believe) St. Jude Open (Pro-Am) in Memphis.... May he Rest In Peace.

posted by tglenn29 at 10:00 AM on December 27

Gerald Ford was a great football player for Michigan and a decent man.However, whenever I think of him I recall the Pardon.This started his Presidency on the wrong foot and contributed more to his losing to Carter in '76 than anything else.

posted by sickleguy at 10:08 AM on December 27

Ford really was in a nearly impossible situation when he took office. The nixon scandal was fresh, Vietnam was very unpopular but still going on, the country was beginning to slide into an economic crisis. He did pretty much as well as could be expected. Maybe timed the pradon wrong. Everything was to fresh in peoples minds. He gave most of his adult life to public service and should not be remembered for just his presidency.

posted by scottypup at 11:24 AM on December 27

Pardon or no pardon, there's no way Ford was going to win the '76 election. After finding out that President Nixon was so crooked he needed a brace of Secret Service men to help him screw his pants on every morning, the country likely wouldn't have voted for another Republican President in 1976. It's been said for years that Ford was a sacrificial lamb of sorts, somebody for the electorate to focus their Watergate rage on. It worked, too. Jimmy Carter took the White House for four years, but did little more than set the stage for the "Reagan Revolution." I've heard that Ford was a hapless dupe in this, and I've heard that he was a sharp pol that knew exactly what was going on, and understood his place in it. Now that he's gone, we'll likely never know.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 02:29 PM on December 27

TBH I was told by a college Poli Sci Professor much the same thing and tend to agree. Knowing what little about Ford that I do he was more than willing to do whatever he could for his party and his country. By allowing himself to be sacrificed as you put it he allowed the country to vent their rage. This in turn allowed the country to heal. Ford was always portrayed as being not to intelligent and this was anything from the truth. He knew how he was being used and was willing to make that sacrifice. Too bad he was a Wolverine. D)

posted by scottypup at 03:13 PM on December 27

After all is said and done, President Gerald Ford, will be remember by all of us as a complete person. He was loved not only by his family and friends but by all we came into contact with him. He may not have been the greatest golfer in the world but he tried and loved the game as he loved his family and country. I for one would like to salute him for being there when he was needed. GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU SAFE. It doesn't matter if you are of either political party , President Ford , was truly a man for all seasons. Good bye and thank you for serving your country.

posted by ucla512 at 04:08 PM on December 27

Here's a link to an AP story detailing Ford's physical skills and saying that part of his image as a stumblebum came from being the first president to be on 24-hour press watch due to the Nixon collapse. Everything I've ever read about the man said he was a fnie athlete and one hell of a football player.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:22 PM on December 27

Of course Carson joked about him playing before helmets but it was the truth, so he also had to be one tough SOB to play center with nothing but leather covering his head.

posted by scottypup at 04:49 PM on December 27

Actually, his loss to Carter was quite narrow and probably was not ENTIRELY due to the pardoning of Nixon. Rather, it was probably due to the debate blunder about Poland not being under Soviet control - and taking several days after to admit his mistake....

posted by tglenn29 at 06:45 PM on December 27

Ford in his O-line days...

posted by Venicemenace at 06:56 PM on December 27

Chevy Chase was quick to get a laugh out of his Ford spoofs as a klutz. It was reported on NBC news that his falling down was due to a trick knee from a football injury.

posted by FonGu at 07:47 PM on December 27

Former President Ford is a member of the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame (an interesting and amusing list, if you've got time to browse around).

posted by Amateur at 09:17 PM on December 27

I actually met President Ford once. Well, "met," in the most-loosely used way. And I can't say it left a good impression, although I can't blame it on him, I guess. It was in Grand Rapids, MI, where he lived. I was a starving art school student at the time, and was leaving the restaurant in the Amway Grand hotel after having treated myself to a nice dinner there (I was also visiting a friend and fellow student who was a waiter at the restaurant). As I was walking away from the restaurant, I noticed several beefy guys in suits with wires in their ears. One of the guys motioned to me, "Excuse me, sir, may I have a word with you?" I walked over, so as to be nice. He then said, "Please stand here, sir." I asked, "What's going on?" and he said, as calmly as he could, "Please stand here, sir" but made it sound like, "and I'll snap your neck if you don't." I complied, taking it as an opportunity to rubberneck. An elderly gent in a suit, hunched over, but still moving on his own power, walked briskly down the secured hallway, past me and my new friend, into the restaurant. I realized it was President Ford. That was more than 10 years ago, and Mr. Ford was already an old man by then. Security guy said, "Thank you, sir," and motioned to leave. I didn't think it was so funny at the time, but I learned from today's news that I actually had a brush with greatness, that Mr. Ford was actually quite an upstanding chap (at least his friend, triumphant Democratic presidential rival and former president Jimmy Carter thought so), and knowing that makes me smile a little.

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:52 PM on December 27

Former President Ford is a member of the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame (an interesting and amusing list, if you've got time to browse around). Wow, for a 'scholar'-athelete' hall of fame, they sure make mistakes. Both Ken Dryden and James Naismith are Canadians. I was actually in Naismith's hometown this past week, and my 2 nieces both attended Naismith Memorial Public School in Almonte Ontario Canada. Back on topic, God rest Mr. Ford.

posted by tommytrump at 10:23 PM on December 27

I was raised just south of Grand Rapids and when I was young Jerry and Betty Ford used to come over to my grand-parents house for dinner once in a great while when he was a congressman. My grandfather owned a road contracting business and all of his business was with the government, so they were in touch frequently. The few times I met him he always struck me as what he was, an honest, sincere and straightforward man. I was in the Air Force when he became vice-president and then president. I was surprised, but glad it was him. Though like a lot of people I hated that he pardoned Nixon, but looking back it proved to be the right thing to do at the time. He wasn't a great president, but he was exactly the president we needed at the time.

posted by commander cody at 11:21 PM on December 27

Wow, for a 'scholar'-athelete' hall of fame, they sure make mistakes. Both Ken Dryden and James Naismith are Canadians. And Yasutaka Matsudaira is Japanese. It's the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame.

posted by qbert72 at 08:04 AM on December 28

Yes, Q, but if you go to the page that has the lists of members - it identifies Dryden and Naismith as being from the USA. It's actually quite a funny error for such a named organization. How can you be a scholar if you don't proof read?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:20 AM on December 28

Oh, I didn't see that. I just read the bios, and those were accurate. Sorry about the misplaced snark, tommytrump, and thanks for having my back, Weedy.

posted by qbert72 at 09:32 AM on December 28

He was a Midwestern Republican; the party doesn't seem to need (or value) his like anymore. Thank you for your service to your country. R.I.P. Mr. President. Just thought it was worth mentioning that a former amateur boxer named James Brown died on Dec 25th at the age of 73.

posted by Newbie Walker at 01:44 PM on December 28 identifies Dryden and Naismith as being from the USA. I can understand the mistake. Dryden first made his mark as the goaltender for Cornell's NCAA championship team in the late '60s (I saw him play in the NCAA regionals in The Boston Garden and damn near got into a fight with an obnoxious Boston College puke), and Naismith invented basketball while an instructor at the Springfield, MA, YMCA.

posted by Howard_T at 05:54 PM on December 28

No worries, Qbert72, it happens to the best of us now and then. Howard_T, I'm sorry but I can't be as forgiving as you seem to be with regard to the mistake, you'd think a SCHOLAR-athelete HofF would do enough research to establish that their facts are correct at least in regard to their members nationality.

posted by tommytrump at 07:33 PM on December 28

You guys mean to tell me Canada is not a US territory?! What?! When did that happen?!!!!

posted by worldcup2002 at 11:05 AM on December 29

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