Thursday, July 14, 2016

New Hampshire Wildcats (1969-71), Part 2

I wrote about this uniform back in February. But the following is too good not to share, even though it's not really uniform-related.

This probably happens to anyone in the research/history biz: You're poring through microfilm (or, more likely these days, an online archive) looking for something ... only to stumble upon something you weren't expecting.

That happened to me while doing a routine eBay check for "New Hampshire football," and I found this, dated Nov. 23, 1970:

A nice vintage wirephoto of a UNH football player, right? But read the caption. Actually, so you don't have to turn your laptop/phone/tablet sideways, I'll excerpt it below:

"Gerontology, the study of aging, is a science that intrigues Ed Krysiak, a defensive safety on the University of New Hampshire football team -- he is 44 years old."

Krysiak was a 23-year Navy veteran who served in World War II and Korea -- and, oh by the way, was a father of six and a grandfather of one -- who walked onto the football team at UNH as a safety. I found this 1970 AP article, reprinted in the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times after a Google newspaper archive search:

The article says he's 43, not 44, but still ... only a handful of NFL players (George Blanda, Vinny Testaverde, Warren Moon, Steve DeBerg) played at 44 or older. And Krysiak wasn't a QB, punter, kicker or even an offensive lineman -- the positions most associated with 40-somethings.

Krysiak studied for two years at a community college before transferring to UNH, where he asked coach Jim Root (himself only 39) if he could try out. "My first reaction was to discourage him completely, but I could see he was deadly serious," Root says in the article. Krysiak went on to see action in at least two games that season. And it's not like UNH was some sad sack in desperate need of talent -- the Wildcats were 5-3 in '70.

Krysiak, alas, appears lost to history after 1970, but his story remains pretty amazing decades later: A 40-something two-time war veteran and father of six with nothing to prove, who probably hasn't played competitive football in 25 years, tries out for one of New England's better teams, in a tough conference, and makes the roster. Can you imagine the attention if something like that happened today?

There are plenty more Wildcat uniforms where this came from: 201520142010-1319981975, 1968-71 (part 1)1966-6719501947-4819381936. Rivalry Week: Maine-UNH.

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