Documentary Film Celebrates a Football Legacy Built on Granite

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A new documentary—narrated by New York Giants announcer Bob Papa, GABELLI ’86, and featuring rarely seen archival footage—traces the rich history of Fordham football from its roots in the 1880s to its emergence in recent years as one of the nation’s top programs at the Division I FCS level.

The 36-minute film, which was shown on the video board at Yankee Stadium prior to the Rams’ 54–14 victory over Holy Cross last November, has recently been released on DVD by Fordham athletics.

Ross Greenburg, the founder of Ross Greenburg Productions, served as the film’s executive producer. A former president of HBO Sports, he has more than 50 Emmys to his credit, including one for Lombardi, his 2010 documentary on Fordham alumnus and football icon Vince Lombardi, FCRH ’37.

Not surprisingly, the story of Lombardi and his fellow linemen on the 1936 Rams—the Seven Blocks of Granite—is at the heart of Fordham Football: A Walk Through History.

“That was one of the most legendary teams in college football history,” said Christian Goewey, a Fordham senior and WFUV sports reporter who co-produced the film, with Benjamin Warhit, while interning at Ross Greenburg Productions last year.

Goewey said he and Warhit, the film’s director and editor, focused in particular on the decades before World War II—a golden era of Fordham football, when legendary coaches Frank “The Iron Major” Cavanaugh and “Sleepy” Jim Crowley led the Rams to national prominence, including a 1942 Sugar Bowl victory. But the film also recounts the team’s slip from prominence in the decade following the war, when college football was declining in popularity in New York City—trends that contributed to the University’s decision to discontinue the sport in 1954.

The final third of the documentary includes segments on the student-led resurrection of the sport with the club teams of the 1960s; the program’s subsequent return to varsity status; and the Rams’ recent resurgence as three-time Patriot League champions, most recently in 2014.

Several alumni are featured in the film, including veteran sportswriter Jack Clary, FCRH ’54; Andy Lukac, FCRH ’51, who was recruited to Fordham by Lombardi and served as captain of the 1950 team that went 8–1; and Bill Burke, FCRH ’65, LAW ’68, who was Fordham’s sports information director during the 1960s.

Also featured are Tim Cohane Jr., son of the Fordham publicist, Tim Cohane, FCRH ’35, who helped popularize the nickname Seven Blocks of Granite, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi (Simon & Schuster, 1999).

For Maraniss, the famous nickname transcends the 1936 team and has come to mean something more to Fordham football and its fans.

“Sometimes a name will become a symbol of something larger than what it’s about,” he says in the film, noting that the 1930s were “a time of impermanence,” when “you didn’t know if you would keep your job … [and] you could see danger on the horizon.” The name, then, was not simply about the Fordham line “being able to stop the Pittsburgh offense, but [about] something more permanent, something that wasn’t going to move. I think that resonated with the country.”

VIDEO: Watch the opening of Fordham Football: A Walk Through History. 

To purchase a DVD of the film, which is available for $50, call the Fordham athletics ticket office at 855-RAM-TIXS.

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