Big 10 Countdown #22 - John Cappelletti

john cappelletti



In 1973, John Cappelletti became Penn State's first - and, to this date, only Heisman Trophy recipient. In that year's voting he easily outdistanced Ohio State offensive lineman John Hicks and Texas' running back Roosevelt Leaks.

(Ohio State placed three players in the top ten of that year's voting with a sophomore tailback named Archie Griffin finishing fifth and linebacker Randy Gradishar right behind him in sixth place. Pretty solid roster.)

Cappelletti was a deserving winner as Penn State's workhorse back, carrying 286 times for 1522 yards and crossing the line 20 times with his three receiving touchdowns included.

But what I'll always remember him for is ocular irritation.

1977. Thirteen years old. Parents were gone for the night, and I was looking for some time to kill so I grabbed the TV guide and saw what looked like a cool football movie about Penn State would be starting in five minutes, so it was baloney sandwich time and I was in. I saw the title was "Something For Joey". Hmmm, I thought his name John, not Joey, but whatever. I mean a FOOTBALL MOVIE was coming on. Probably would be hilarious like that Longest Yard flick.

Approximately two hours later, there was Marc Singer, who played Cappelletti, standing on stage at the Downtown Athletic Club accepting the Heisman and tears poured down his face as he dedicated the trophy to his little brother Joey who was dying of cancer. Coincidentally, my previously unknown allergies kicked in - or there was dust falling from the ceiling or something got caught in my eye - and my eyes became very irritated and watery at the same time. Naturally my parents came barging through the door as the credits rolled and wondered what the hell was wrong with me.

So "Something For Joey" would be the first incident of a this "Ocular Irritation Syndrome" which always seemed to attack whenever watching certain parts of productions such as "Brian's Song" or "Field of Dreams". It last struck a couple of years ago during a solo viewing of "We Are Marshall" and to this day the cause remains undiscovered. I'm fairly certain I am not alone in this. Does anyone else out there suffer from this affliction?

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