Let's go out and win one for the Gipper

  • Published
  • By Charles Freeman
  • 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Thanks in part to President Ronald Reagan, the phrase "win one for the Gipper" has become a permanent fixture in American society. As you may know the often quoted phrase was taken from the real life story of George Gipp, University of Notre Dames' legendary football player. The phrase has served for numerous motivational speeches and is applicable for us today as we face the Operational Readiness Inspection.

As the story is told, Gipp, who had a stellar career, played multiple positions including halfback, quarterback and punter and led the Irish in rushing and passing each of his last three seasons which concluded in 1920.

During a game of his final season Notre Dame found itself down 17-14 to Army. In the locker room, Gipp's coach Knute Rockne, gave one of his famous half-time speeches. Gipp seemed bored. The coach turned to Gipp and said, "I don't suppose you have any interest in this game." An outspoken Gipp responded, "Don't worry, I have $500 on it, and I don't intend to blow my money."

By the end of the game, Gipp ran for 385 yards -- more than the entire Army team. Notre Dame went on to win by the final score of 27-17.
Later that year on Thanksgiving Day, Notre Dame rolled over Michigan State 25-0 to go undefeated for the second consecutive season but Gipp wasn't on the field. He was in the hospital with pneumonia and strep throat.

On Dec. 14, 1920, with Gipp's family and coach all at his bedside, someone is said to have whispered, "It's tough to go." Gipp, who was comatose, awakened and replied, "What's tough about it?" He then reportedly turned to his coach and said, "I've got to go Rock. It's all right. Sometimes when the team is up against it, when things are going wrong and the breaks are beating the boys -- tell them to go in there with all they've got and just win one for the Gipper." Gipp died that day at the age of 25. To this day he is still considered to be one of the most versatile athletes to play the game of football.

It wasn't until eight years later that coach Rockne used those inspiring last words of his star player. As fate would have it, the opportunity came during a game against an undefeated Army team at Yankee Stadium. With the game in a scoreless tie at the half the coach related to his players George Gipp's final challenge. Rumor has it that the players tore the locker room door off rushing to the field. Final score: Notre Dame 12, Army 6.
I've often heard our upcoming ORI as being likened to a football game -- or even a Super Bowl. As a team we no doubt may be "up against it" as we face many challenges with the inspection. But for us the stakes are much higher than winning a championship game or a sports title. However, just as Notre Dame won as a "team," Hill will have to succeed in the ORI as a team as well.

In order to be successful it will take all of us working together -- active duty, Reservists, DoD civilians, contractors and anyone else who happens to be on base during the inspection. Let's go out and not only win one for the Gipper; let's go out and be successful because of pride in doing our jobs well -- and because we want to send a message to the inspectors that we're definitely in the game -- to win!