This season marks 80 years since Ridge Riley ’32 debuted The Football Letter as a way to keep far-flung Penn State alumni up to date with the week-to-week results of the Nittany Lion football team. It also marks a much more modest anniversary: Five years ago this week, we launched the online presence you’re reading now, expanding the Football Letter brand for the social media age.
While John Black ’62 gears up for his 43rd season as editor of the Football Letter, we thought it might be a good time to share some highlights from the blog. Here’s our pick of our five favorite stories from the past five years.
Our epic, five-part oral history of the unbeaten 1994 Nittany Lions features exclusive interviews with Kerry Collins ’94, Ki-Jana Carter ’95, Bobby Engram ’95, Jeff Hartings ’95, Tom Bradley ’78, Fran Ganter ’71, and many others. A fun and revealing look back at arguably the greatest offense in college football history.
Nobody better personifies the loyalty, integrity and pride of Penn State football than Brad “Spider” Caldwell ’86, the longtime football equipment manager who left Happy Valley in 2014 for semi-retirement in Vermont. A health scare and the pull of the place he’d called home for so long brought him back to Beaver Stadium in a new role. Now, he’s here to stay.
A freak practice injury four years ago cost Ryan Keiser his football career—and nearly his life. The untold story of how family, teammates, and faith helped him come back.
The most fun we’ve ever had on the blog: Max Hamilton, proud mother of DaeSean ’16, had long dreamed of watching a game from the S-Zone, the raucous section in Beaver Stadium’s south end zone organized by the Alumni Association’s Lion Ambassadors. We made it happen for the 2016 home finale against Michigan State. And yes, she had a blast.
James Franklin often speaks of the Penn State players, coaches, and staff as a “family,” and part of embracing that idea is making the the players’ actual families feel as much a part of the program as possible. Thanks to a number of particularly dedicated parents, that family support is an integral part of the program’s success. For the parents themselves, the tailgates and road trips mean it’s also just a lot of fun.
There’s plenty more in our blog archives, and plenty more to look forward to as the Nittany Lions kick off the 2018 season. Thanks for following along with us here, and on Twitter. We Are.
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