BEL AIRE, CALIFORNIA - Saturday, June 5, 2004. Former President Ronald Reagan finally met the real "Gipper" this afternoon. After living 93 years, Reagan will have a chance to sit down and have a chat with the legendary George Gipp who died back in 1920 at the age of 25.
As a Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan portrayed George Gipp in the 1940 movie "Knute Rockne: All American". Gipp played football with Knute Rockne's Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Gipp had contracted pneumonia while in his senior year, and while on his deathbed his last words said to Rockne were : "I've got to go, Rock. It's alright. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock, but I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."
Knute Rockne waited until 1928 when the Fighting Irish were losing to Army. At half-time, the famous coach told his team, "The day before he died, George Gipp asked me to wait until the situation seemed hopeless - then ask a Notre Dame team to go out and beat Army for him. This is the day... and you are the team."
Notre Dame rallied and beat Army!
In his own unique way, President Ronald Reagon always believed that his was the day... and he was the man.