Rudy Griffin, who said he's watched the movie Rudy, "thousands, maybe millions of times," took a phone call from the movie's real-life subject, Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, to congratulate him on a job well done as he exited the practice field Thurday afternoon. Griffin thought he was the subject of a cruel prank, until the "send" button was pushed on the mobile phone and handed to him. His eyes lit up when Ruettiger introduced himself.
"All my dreams are coming true right now," Griffin said after talking to Ruettiger. "He told me he was proud of me and to keep up the good work. I really don't know what to say, I'm speechless right now."
Severall members of the media gathered around to eavesdrop on the call. Ruettiger did most of the talking, and told Griffin that he hoped to watch Griffin play, and meet him in person at some point during the season.
"I watch (the movie) every day," he said. "I watched it last night, as a matter of fact. I'm going to watch it again, but it will mean a little more tonight since I actually got to talk to him."
Ruettiger was an undersized kid with a ceaseless goal of becoming part of the Notre Dame football squad. He realized his goal when he got to dress for his final game and play in the fleeting minutes of the contest. The Hollywood version of the film has inspired Griffin to make his own, improbable, underdog-prevails story.
Griffin, who had to sit out a year after transferring from The Citadel, earned the starting defensive tackle job with two years remaining in his collegiate career. Griffin was put into the number one tackle position when returning senior starter Anthony Bryant began fall camp with an injury, and despite Bryant's return, hung in the number one spot "like a rusty fish hook", accourding to defensive coordinator Joe Kines.
Much of the credit for introducing the two "Rudy's" is due to Travis Haney, of the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle, Griffin's hometown paper. Haney asked Griffin in an interview if he was ever taunted by the "Rudy" chant during a game. From that question he learned of Griffin's obsession with the movie, and set to put the two in touch.
The two Rudy's exchanged e-mail addresses and committed to keeping in touch as Griffin's season continues. And it seems that a Notre Dame guy born in 1948, and an Alabama player born in 1983 struck up an unlikely friendship.