Last Wednesday you voted on what former Rutgers Football player accomplished the most off the field. Here are the results with some thoughts below. If votes and my thoughts aren’t enough ...
What Rutgers Football alum accomplished the most off the field?
This poll is closed
Vinnie "the Wizard of Utz"
Gold: Paul Robeson. 49% of the vote.
As important as these polls are to some of us, winning this one probably won’t end up in one of the top 100 accomplishments of Paul Robeson. Sure being a lawyer, an amazing singer, and actor are impressive, but it was the type of performances that Robeson did that really put him over the top this week. What surely locked it up for him were his contributions to civil rights when Jim Crow laws were still on the books.
The best story is when despite being “America’s #1 entertainer,” the Beverly Wilshire Hotel was the only hotel willing to accommodate him, and even then it had to be under an assumed name. When asked why he sat in the lobby for two hours every day, Robeson replied, “to ensure that the next time Black[s] come through, they’ll have a place to stay.”
Silver: Eric LeGrand. 30% of the vote.
This put a smile on my face. It’s amazing every time you see a person who was dealt such a bad break in life still stay so positive. Especially when the event makes them have to grow up in a hurry. LeGrand is deservedly the only member of the list who even played for Rutgers in this millennium. The number of lives he has touched at Rutgers is astounding, but it extends far beyond the garden. No one is a better example of the “Jersey Roots, Global Reach” marketing campaign than #52.
There are many readers of this site, perhaps every single one, who are inspired every single day by Eric. Believe!
Bronze: Ozzie Nelson. 5% of the vote.
In the closest third place vote in the short history of these polls, Nelson edged “Flingin” Frank, the “Wizard of Utz”, and Alex Kroll by a single percentage point. I personally voted for Vinnie Utz because his contributions to modern day corporate America extended far beyond Johnson & Johnson even more than their products helped the customer base. Perhaps we have a lot of New York Giants fans who simply couldn’t get behind J&J, ironically Jets fans couldn’t either. Hard to argue Nelson here who did music, radio, television, and film. That’s quite a lot for one lifetime. So it opened my eyes to the fact that entertainment really does touch lives in an unquantifiable way. Guess I better leave corporate America and get my creative skills on to continue my journey to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Or maybe it was because with Nelson’s grandparents from Sweden, Ozzie was an original Swedish pipeliner!
Notable: Philip Brett got ZERO votes. ZERO. I feel bad now that I didn’t vote for him (or make a spelling error) to at least get him on the board. I know that at times fans and administrators may not be pleased with one another, but seriously? Already a partner at a Manhattan law firm, Brett became the leader of Rutgers when he had no need to and no one else wanted to. Without his contributions, we might not be here having this very discussion. Despite saying “I’d die to win this game” before a contest against Princeton (who wouldn’t?), he lived long enough to be an RU trustee for 50 years!
Missing in action: Comments. I was hoping someone would come up with a former Rutgers Football player who walked on Mars, cured cancer, or was in fact, the most interesting man in the world. We did get one about an all-time great Rutgers basketball player, so maybe one day we have basketball versions of these polls. If we do though, Lloyd will have some tough competition in his own former teammate Jim Valvano. Even the youngest fans should know who he is.
Thanks for participating and look for another opportunity to vote this Wednesday. I acknowledge that some of the same names keep popping up and the younger fan may be feeling a little detached. As a result, we are going to change it up and get excited. The category this week comes from our hype machine: who was the most ballyhooed recruit in Rutgers Football history? Naturally in the age of social media, this has to be skewed toward more recent athletes. The hint for this week’s movie theme is, “somebody put me back in the fridge!!”
For all those who continue to vote, comment, and shake off criticism, it’s not as bad as this-