Ruettiger signing autographs in 2010
|Notre Dame, Chardon High School - No. 45|
|High school||Joliet (IL) Catholic|
|Born:||August 22, 1948|
|Height||5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)|
|Weight||165 lb (75 kg)|
|Career highlights and awards|
Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger (born August 22, 1948) is a motivational speaker who played college football at the University of Notre Dame. His early life and career at Notre Dame were the inspiration for the 1993 film Rudy.
Daniel Eugene Ruettiger (nicknamed "Rudy") was the third of fourteen children. He was born on August 22, 1948, in Joliet, Illinois, where he grew up. He did not excel scholastically, at least in part due to dyslexia. He attended Joliet Catholic High School, where he played for locally famous coach Gordie Gillespie.
Ruettiger joined the United States Navy after high school, serving as a yeoman on a communications command ship for two years; then he worked in a power plant for two years. He applied to Notre Dame and was rejected because of his low high school grades. He enrolled and attended nearby Holy Cross College, and after two years was accepted as a student at Notre Dame on his fourth try, in the fall of 1974. It was during his time studying at Holy Cross that Ruettiger discovered he had dyslexia.
Ruettiger harbored a dream to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, despite being undersized at 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) and 165 lb (75 kg). Head coach Ara Parseghian encouraged walk-on players from the student body. For example, Notre Dame's 1969 starting center, Mike Oriard, was a walk-on who was eventually nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship and an NFL contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
After tremendous hard work which was noticed, Ruettiger earned a place on the Notre Dame scout team, a squad that helps the varsity team practice for games. Merv Johnson was the coach who was instrumental in keeping Rudy on as a scout-team player.
After the 1974 season, Notre Dame coach Parseghian stepped down, and former Green Bay Packers coach Dan Devine was named head coach. In Ruettiger's last opportunity to play for Notre Dame at home, Devine put him into a game as defensive end against Georgia Tech on November 8, 1975. In the movie Rudy, Devine is given a somewhat antagonistic role, not wanting Ruettiger to dress for his last game. In the real life scenario, however, it was Devine who came up with the idea to dress Ruettiger. In the final play of Ruettiger's senior season with the Fighting Irish, he recorded a sack, which is all his Notre Dame stat line has shown. Ruettiger actually played for three plays: a kickoff, an incomplete pass, and on the third play (the game's final play), he sacked Georgia Tech quarterback Rudy Allen. He was carried off the field by his teammates following the game, the first player at Notre Dame history to do so. Only one other player has received such an honor: Marc Edwards in 1995.
Ruettiger's story was told in the 1993 inspirational feature film Rudy, which starred actor Sean Astin in the title role. The film was written by Angelo Pizzo and directed by David Anspaugh, both of whom were involved in Hoosiers. Ruettiger appeared in a cameo as a fan behind his father, played by Ned Beatty, during the final scene.
Ruettiger has said that the movie is "92% true". The players did not lay down their jerseys; rather, the team captain and one other player requested that he be allowed to play.Dan Devine is given an antagonistic role in the film, but the coach was actually one of his biggest motivators to return to the team. The groundskeeper and former player Fortune is a combination of three different people.
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Ruettiger is a motivational speaker.
On October 14, 2005, Ruettiger was the master of ceremonies at a pep rally for Notre Dame Football. The Fighting Irish were about to play rival and then #1-ranked University of Southern California (USC) the following day and Head Coach Charlie Weis asked some Notre Dame legends, including Tim Brown and Joe Montana, to come back and speak at the rally. Ruettiger came out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium to a loud ovation. Notre Dame ultimately lost the game (though that loss was later vacated due to misconduct by USC).
The inaugural 2007 College Football Rudy Award was held on January 8, 2008 at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The College Football Rudy Award was created by the Rudy Foundation and honors Division I football players who demonstrate what Ruettiger refers to as the "Four Cs": character, courage, contribution, and commitment as a member of their team. A similar award for high school students was created in 2009. Trusted Sports and Ruettiger launched the High School Football "Rudy" Awards, which aim to uncover the "Rudy" on every high school football team in America. Inspired by the College Football Rudy Awards, three finalists were announced on February 3, 2010. The winner, Calob Leindecker of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received a college scholarship totaling $10,000. Two runners-up, Kyle Weafer of Kansas and Justin Ray Duke of Texas each received $5,000 scholarships.
Ruettiger received an honorary doctorate degree from Our Lady of Holy Cross College. He has been given key to the city at numerous cities across the nation along with special proclamations for his inspiration, commitment, and human spirit; one such proclamation from the Governor of Nevada announced an Official Rudy Award Day. He has been recognized by the Texas House of Representatives and the President of the United States George W. Bush and visited the White House.
In 2011, Ruettiger was charged with securities fraud in connection with his role as Chairman of Rudy Beverage, Inc. The government alleged a pump-and-dump scheme. A settlement of the case required Ruettiger to pay $382,866 in fines.