July 6, 2006
By Craig Chval
Luther Bradley was an All-American defensive back at Notre Dame, a four-year starter and member of two national championship teams.
Thirty years later, Bradley has lost a little speed and a little quickness. However, he hasn’t lost any of the bravado that all the great defensive backs need to have.
An enthusiastic fan of Irish head coach Charlie Weis’s high-powered offense, Bradley laughs when asked what it would be like to play against Weis’ attack.
“He always finds the weakness in a defense,” Bradley notes. “They wouldn’t be going after me.”
Opposing defenses learned early not to go after Bradley. As a freshman, Bradley delivered a ferocious hit on USC’s All-American wide receiver Lynn Swann.
On the Trojans’ first offensive play, Pat Haden’s pass to Swann and Bradley arrived simultaneously. Swann went flying, the ball went one way and Swann’s helmet went another way. This play set the stage for Notre Dame’s 23-14 victory, en route to the 1973 national championship.
A first-round pick in the 1978 NFL draft, Bradley played for the Detroit Lions for five seasons and has made Detroit his home ever since. Bradley and his wife, Sylvia, have four children – Rashida is a math teacher in New York City; Lutasha is a marketing representative in Los Angeles, Samuel is a senior at North Carolina A&T; and Daniel is a sophomore at Stanford University.
The diverse locations of their children give Luther and Sylvia plenty of chances to satisfy their travel bug when their busy schedules permit. Bradley is a long-time sales consultant with Blue Cross/Blue Shield while also serving as a trustee at their church and as chairman on the board of directors for the local chapter of Youth for Christ.
“We focus on disadvantaged children in the inner city,” Bradley explains. “We’re always trying to expose Christ and the Bible to people.”
Bradley manages to find time to follow Notre Dame’s football fortunes. As a member of the ’77 team that donned green jerseys and thumped USC 49-19, Bradley gave a thumbs-up to the green jerseys worn by Notre Dame against USC this fall.
“I was excited for them,” he says. “The green jerseys are one of the treasures of Notre Dame.”
Bradley is impressed with more than Weis’ choice of uniform color.
“This guy is going to win a national championship,” says Bradley. “He has got the goods.”
The way Jim Lynch sees it; he had probably the only Irish-Catholic parents in the state of Ohio who might have had the slightest twinge of regret at his decision to accept a football scholarship from the University of Notre Dame.
Lynch’s older brother, Tom, was a captain of Navy’s 1963 football team, the last Navy squad to defeat Notre Dame. Navy coaches did their very best to persuade Jim to follow in Tom’s footsteps.
But although the Midshipmen lost the contest to recruit Jim Lynch, they didn’t lose one ounce of his respect.
“Both (Notre Dame and Navy) stand for a whole lot more than just a place to go to school,” says Lynch.
Lynch did follow in his brother’s footsteps in one regard, as he went on to captain his team as a senior — Notre Dame’s 1966 national championship squad.
Jim Lynch was captain of the 1966 Notre Dame national championship team and was a unanimous first team All-American that season.
After earning All-American honors as a hard-hitting linebacker, Lynch starred for the Kansas City Chiefs for 11 seasons. A perennial all-pro in the NFL and a member of the Chiefs’ ring of honor, Lynch considers being Notre Dame’s captain his greatest honor in sports.
Today, Lynch is president of D. Thomas and Associates, a Kansas City food packaging company he started after completing law school and deciding to raise his family in the Midwest. He and his wife Georgia have three children and five grandchildren.
Their two daughters, Megan and Kara, are Notre Dame graduates – “kind of funny for a guy who was at Notre Dame at the time of `better dead than coed,'” Lynch laughs. The couple’s son Jake graduated from Regis University in Denver.
Along with his family and business, Lynch finds time to contribute to Notre Dame. Lynch has served as the president of Notre Dame’s National Monogram Club and occasionally is called upon to provide informal counsel and guidance.
“Being a part of Notre Dame was great, and anything I can do, I’m happy to do it,” he says.
“Without wearing it on your sleeve, Notre Dame’s Catholic identity is what makes it special,” Lynch offers.
“Obviously, if you’re accepted into Notre Dame, you’ve been given a lot of talent, but Notre Dame teaches you that there is more to life than profit and loss. You have a duty to learn, but you also have a duty to share.”