Dec. 9, 2005
Two former Notre Dame football greats were honored by the National Football Foundation at the organization’s annual awards dinner on Dec. 6, 2005, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. John Huarte was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, while Alan Page was given the Distinguished American Award.
Huarte (pronounced HEW-ert), the 1964 Heisman Trophy winner, is one of 11 former college players and two coaches inducted as the National Football Foundation’s 2005 College Football Hall of Fame Division I-A class.
The players and coaches will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame in South Bend in August 2006.
Huarte’s Heisman Trophy victory ranks as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the award considering he missed much of his sophomore season due to injury and didn’t even play enough as a junior to win a monogram (second and third in the voting were Tulsa’s Jerry Rhome and Illinois’ Dick Butkus – and other candidates included Alabama’s Joe Namath and Kansas’ Gale Sayers).
Behind the aerial efforts of Huarte and fellow Californian Jack Snow (he caught 60 passes that year for 1,114 yards and a Notre Dame-record nine touchdowns), Ara Parseghian in his first year turned Notre Dame from a 2-7 team in ’63 into a 9-1 squad that came within minutes of the national title.
A consensus first-team All-American as a senior, Huarte threw for 270 yards in the ’64 opening-game upset of Wisconsin — including TD tosses of 61 and 42 yards to Snow — and ended up finishing the year ranked third nationally in total offense (2,069 yards). He set 12 Irish records that year and earned back-of-the-year and player-of-the-year honors from United Press International. He was named MVP of the College All-Star Game in Chicago in 1965.
A second-round draft pick of the AFL New York Jets (and a sixth-round pick of the NFL Philadelphia Eagles), Huarte played in the pro ranks for eight years with Boston, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Kansas City and Chicago — prior to retiring from the World Football League Memphis entry in 1975.
Originally a 6-0, 180-pound signalcaller from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., Huarte becomes the 41st Notre Dame player to be chosen for the Hall of Fame since inductions began in 1951. Five former Irish coaches also have been selected. No other school has produced more than those 46 enshrinees, the most recent being Joe Theismann in 2003.
Huarte becomes the ninth Notre Dame quarterback selected to the Hall of Fame, joining Frank Carideo in 1954, Harry Stuhldreher in 1958, John Lujack in 1960, Angelo Bertelli in 1972, Paul Hornung in 1985, Bob Williams in 1988, Ralph Guglielmi in 2001 and Theismann in 2003.
Huarte on his inclusion among the greats at the College Football Hall of Fame…
“The main thing is when you run your eyes over the list of all the great players over the years who have gotten in, to be part of that company, is really special. My name is associated with the history of the game and all the great players.”
Huarte on going from backup to Heisman Trophy winner in one season…
“It was a gritty experience to not play and then going in as a starter my last year. I had done a lot of scrimmaging on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but to not have that opportunity my first few years and then the last, to set a lot of new records, it changed my life.”
DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN AWARD
Presented on special occasions when a truly deserving individual emerges, the award honors someone who has applied the character building attributes learned from amateur sport in their business and personal life, exhibiting superior leadership qualities in education, amateur athletics, business and in the community.
A Hall of Fame player both in college and the NFL, Alan Page’s greatest contributions have come as a Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and founder of the Page Education Foundation, which encourages Minnesota’s youth of color to continue their education.
Page graduated from Central Catholic High School in Canton, Ohio, and from the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a B.A. in Political Science in 1967. At Notre Dame, he led the football team to a national championship in 1966 and a 25-3-2 mark from 1964 to 1966. A first-round draft pick and 15th overall, he went on to collect 164 career sacks, block 28 punts or placekicks, recover 24 fumbles and appear in eight Pro Bowls in a professional football career that spanned 15 seasons, including 10 as a member of the Vikings and five with the Chicago Bears.
In 1971, the four-time NFC defensive player of the year became the first defensive player in NFL history to earn the league’s most valuable player award. Page was selected to the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
While playing professional football, Page attended law school full time, earning a Juris Doctor in 1978 from the University of Minnesota. In 1979, he began practicing law with a Minnesota firm. He later became an assistant attorney general, and in 1993 he was sworn in as an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Page takes great pride in his work with the Page Education Foundation on behalf of the youth in his state. The Foundation, established in 1988 by Page and his wife Diane, provides educational grants to students of color to attend colleges in Minnesota. As a condition of receiving the funds, the so-called Page Scholars serve as role models and mentors for younger children with the simple, if not lofty, goal of changing the future. Thus far, the foundation has awarded more than 5,100 scholarships to 2,393 individual students totaling more than $4.5 million.
“For far too many young men and women of color, education has not been something that they are focused on, but I believe that education can be a tool that can overcome the problems that are associated with discrimination, with poverty, with a whole host of other issues that people of color face.
By ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn and does learn, I think we make the future better for all of us,” Page said.
Alan Page, a Supreme Court Justice in Minnesota, is a member of both the National Football League Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame (photo courtesy of the NFF).
An NCAA Silver Anniversary Award recipient in 1992, Page has been a member of the National Bar Association since 1979 and currently sits on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and the board of directors for the Minneapolis Urban League. Since 1980, he has been a member of the Minnesota Minority Lawyers’ Association, and he has served as an advisory board member to the League of Women Voters since 1984. Last January, Page became the 37th recipient of the NCAA’s Theodore Roosevelt Award, the NCAA’s highest honor.
In the 1970s, Page took up marathon running, and in 1979 he became the first active NFL player to complete a marathon. He currently runs 60 miles a week. He and his wife have four children.
With 119 chapters and over 12,000 members nationwide, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, a non-profit educational organization, runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in America’s young people.
NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., Play It Smart, The NFF Center for Youth Development Through Sport at Springfield College (Mass.), the NFL-NFF Coaching Academy, and annual scholarships of nearly $1 million for college and high school scholar-athletes.