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November 24, 2014

HOT BLAST: College football is near, so thank Teddy Roosevelt

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Posted: Monday, August 4, 2014 2:32 pm | Updated: 2:44 pm, Mon Aug 4, 2014.

Now that many college football teams have started practice for the 2014 season, here's a thought: Imagine this fall if college football had been outlawed back in the day?

Shudder the thought.

History-minded fans know the basic story -- that President Roosevelt saved the game from extinction when college presidents wanted to kill it because of safety concerns.

Last week, as if on cue, The New York Times published a nice essay on TR and his son, who was injured playing football in high school and in college, and how those injuries played a role in the president taking up the cause for making the game safer.

The Times wrote, "In the fall of 1905, Ted’s first season playing on the Harvard freshman squad, Roosevelt took personal command of the growing national issue of college football safety. Always eager to expand the boundaries of presidential influence, he called a half-dozen college officials to the White House and told them: 'I demand that football change its rules or be abolished. Change the game or forsake it!'

"Four days before the president staged this football summit, Ted Roosevelt sustained a bloody wound above one of his eyes while he was making a tackle during Harvard’s freshman football practice. The New York Times noted that before the injury, 'not one man of all the hundred other freshmen trying for their class eleven had received as much as a scratch.'

"Then, during the freshman Harvard-Yale game, Ted’s nose was broken. 'Just shaken up and bruised,' he assured his anxious father."

-- Phillip Tutor

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