Excellence creates unconventional challenges. Mere mortals struggle to comprehend and describe greatness The rich glorious history of Notre Dame Football make compiling a list of the 25 greatest Fighting Irish players as daunting as counting the grains of sand on the seashore, the stars on a clear night sky.
How does one define “Greatness?” Justice Potter Stewart, commenting on defining pornography, in Jacobellis Versus Ohio declared:
I shall not attempt today further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within the shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so, BUT I KNOW IT WHEN I SEE IT. (Emphasis added)”.
Thanks, Potter, we’ll work with that.
There are certain items which are relative but not dispositive in defining “Greatness” of Notre Dame legends:
- Performance on the field
- Making big plays in big games
- Difference makers
- “Wow” Factor
- All-America status and votes
- Heisman and other awards and votes
- Peer recognition
- College football Hall of Fame status
The above list of items, severally and in combination, comprise “some evidence” of greatness but are not dispositive. We all know greatness when we see it.
Post-Notre Dame performance, as in the NFL or Canadian Football League, has no relevance None. One could construct a list of “The 25 Greatest NFL players who played for Notre Dame in College.” This is not that list.
At the end, after we identify #1, we’ll provide a list of the near-misses, and one or two reasons they fall outside of the top 25.
But, always remember, we are ND. Notre Dame has more stars, more greatness, more icons, more legends, in more venues, in more millieus, with more elan, more gusto than anyone else. Go Irish!
#25 Louis “Red” Salmon, Fullback, 1900-1903
Red Salmon predated both Rockne and Gipp, but started something by being Notre Dame’s first All-American. Salmon was immense for his day at 6’3” and 230 pounds. But he was skilled as well and racked up 35 touchdowns during his Notre Dame career, a record which stood for 82 years before succumbing to Allen Pinkett in 1985.
“The alabaster skinned Salmon has been described as both a smasher and a slasher who would run right over you if he could not run around you.”
Platoon football was an idea whose time had not yet come. Red Salmon played both ways. Salmon was a mauler on the defensive front and in ’03, as in 1903, he also keyed the defense for the 8-0-1 Irsh who allowed only 10 points the entire season.
He was ND’s first All-American making the Walter Camp first team in 1903.
Salmon was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.