Here’s a great moment of Michigan Football lore. Were you aware of the showdown between Wolverine legend and Heisman trophy winner Tom Harmon and a drunken fan during Michigan’s game at Cal back in 1940. I recently purchased this page out of Life magazine on eBay for $6.50 and it depicts the scene. Additional research yielded some great quotes from the fan, enjoy:
There are so many great things about this incident. The guy is just a real classic. After watching this thing and picturing Brennan giving the interview for Life magazine, you end up wishing he actually did bring Harmon down. I love that Harmon had to make a little move and apply a stiff arm to shed the pickled Brennan.
The beauty of it is that Brennan, in his mind, feels like he actually did tackle Harmon, first saying he almost did, then he changes his tune by saying no Cal player tackled #98 all day but “I did.” This guy is a national treasure. I tracked down some more info on the game here, turns out Harmon called it a day before the first half even ended.
The fact that Life took the pains to put this pictorial together is great as well [a 1940s version of YouTube], and their caption writer deserves major props, “..Brennan sinks down on the turf, miserably musing over his failure..” Compelling and rich.
Once I was drunk at a game and thought about tackling the elusive Rocket Ismail…but he was running away from the student section and I probably (probably) wouldn’t have caught him.
Harmon had a pretty amazing life and to this day has a lot of ties to the entertainment industry. Perhaps his trips to California with the Wolverines had a big impact on the Gary, Indiana native, despite this incident. Check out this excerpt from Harmon’s profile on the Wikipedia:
Tom Harmon married actress Elyse Knox, and much of their family entered show business. He is the father of actress Kristin Nelson, who at seventeen married recording artist Ricky Nelson, and of actress Kelly Harmon. His son is actor Mark Harmon, who is married to actress Pam Dawber [Mindy on Mork & Mindy], and he is the grandfather of twins Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, who perform as the rock and country music act Nelson, and of actress Tracy Nelson.