The first three parts of this story have been fun to write, but this fourth part is extremely difficult.
I wanted to write about Freddie Steinmark to honor him. But, at the same time I want to honor my father and my brother, Roger, both of whom died of cancer within the last few years.
I also want to remember all of the other victims like former Texas High School legend Clark Broaddus of Brazoswood High School in Clute, Texas. http://collegefootballcrazy.com/clark-broaddus-a-man-worth-remembering/
This is also for the families. The people left behind didn’t live through the physical pain, but they lived through the rest of the pain. They all still live through the misery because it really never does go away.
I still think about my brother every day, and most days my father. Some days are good and some days are not, but they are always right there just a memory or a thought away.
I am not going into great details here about the last days of Freddie, and if you want those you will need to buy Jim Dent’s book, Courage Beyond the Game, The Freddie Steinmark Story. It’s a great book.
I do very much remember President Richard Nixon coming into the Texas Longhorn locker room and awarding them the national championship.
Freddie Steinmark enjoyed the celebration, but probably not as much as the rest of the team, coaches and staff of the Texas Longhorns. His leg hurt too much.
The team had just won one national championship. When they landed back in Austin, there were 20,000 Longhorn fans waiting for them. The party was on.
When Vince Young scored with a few seconds left in Pasadena, California in January of 2006, we all thought it would be fun to drive to downtown Austin and get into it with all of the students there. First hand, I can tell you that was a madhouse and there were far more than 20,000 people out that incredible night and my family partied with the best of them.
The Cotton Bowl and surprisingly Notre Dame awaited.
All of these years later, Penn State fans and LSU fans still complain about these circumstances. Penn State chose to go to the Orange Bowl instead, claiming that Dallas was racist. They could have settled things on the field. LSU thought they should go ahead of Notre Dame.
Notre Dame had banned themselves from bowl games for over 40 years and came out of their boycott in 1969 to take on the Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl.
That was important to Freddie Steinmark because he had grown up dreaming of playing for the Fighting Irish because of his Catholic upbringing. They had rejected him because of his size. He lived to play for the Irish and now he lived to play against the Irish.
But, tragically, it was not to be.
When the team arrived back in Austin, Freddie Steinmark finally came clean with head coach Darrell Royal and told him that his leg was hurt more than he let on.
Coach Royal sent him to the Doctor for X-Rays, and that’s when they discovered the tumor. They sent him to MD Anderson in Houston which is the largest cancer Hospital in the United States.
My brother Roger was no stranger to MD Anderson Hospital and we spent time down there as well.
Freddie Steinmark attended the Cotton Bowl game against Notre Dame on crutches. Like the Arkansas game, Texas and Quarterback James Street once again worked their magic and beat the Irish 21-17 to win the other national championships awarded for that season.
Freddie had attained his latest goal of winning a national championship.
Freddie Steinmark started playing football as a small elementary school kid. In all of those years of playing football, Freddie’s teams lost 7 games total. Think about that and let it sink in.
Freddie played all through school and 3 years of college ball and lost 7 games. Freddie Steinmark was a winner. There’s really no debating that.
Cancer took Freddie Steinmark on June 6th, 1971.
But, a guy like Freddie Steinmark is never really gone. He lives on in our memories for those that are old enough and he lives on in books and soon to be a movie about his life. That does not comfort the family any that wanted to see him grow old, but he will always be inside of them.
Again, the books about Freddie Steinmark are excellent reading. I also want to encourage people that happen to read this blog to go see the Freddie Steinmark movie, My All American.
My friend, Bob Shipley’s son, former Texas Longhorn star receiver Jordan, will play Cotton Speyrer. One of James Street’s twin sons will play the part of his father, star Quarterback James Street. Finn Whittrock plays the part of Freddie Steinmark.
Sarah Bolger plays Linda Wheeler. Aaron Eckhart plays Darrell Royal. Donny Boaz plays Super Bill Bradley and Rhett Terrell plays Bobby Mitchell.
If you lost it in Brian’s Song, I can almost guarantee you will lose it in My All American so be prepared.
Freddie Steinmark was not from Texas, but he had a heart that was bigger than Texas.