Nobody could write like Grantland . . .

Posted on: October 10,2012

It is the most famous first paragraph, the lede we call it, in the history of sports journalism. Grantland Rice typed it 88 years ago after watching Notre Dame play Army. It follows:
Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore their names are Death, Destruction, Pestilence, and Famine. But those are aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below.
Two things: 1) Don’t know how four football players can be outlined against a sky of any color unless they were being viewed by a worm; and 2) score, please?
Can’t answer the former, but Notre Dame beat Army 13-7. I looked it up.
Now, you are probably asking why is he bringing this up 88 years later. Good question. It is because I was going through our archives this morning and came upon the file on Hall of Famer Ike Knox and found a paragraph in which the famous Grantland Rice waxed on about Knox, inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1964. Knox died in 1969.
Reporting on Vanderbilt’s victory over Ole Miss in 1908 Grantland Rice called Knox: “a sensation in light hair, broad shoulders and stocky frame that gave both the Commodore offense and defense a shock that will not soon be forgotten.”
Rice continued: “Time and again, as a Commodore back would start down the field, the gorilla-like arms of the demon Knox would encircle his frame and said runner wasn’t only checked, but more often still, literally hurled yards towards his own goal line.”
Gorilla arms? The demon Knox?
Kind of makes you wonder what color the sky was that day 104 years ago.

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