Ted Kennedy a Success in More Than One Contact Sport


Ted Kennedy a Success in More Than One Contact Sport The Green Bay Packers had high hopes for this Kennedy kid.

Head coach Lisle "Liz" Blackbourn had seen Ted Kennedy's sure hands at right end for Harvard, heard about that touchdown he grabbed against Yale, and wanted him to try out for the Packers.

"You have been very highly recommended to us by a number of coaches in your area and also by our talent scouts as a possible Pro Prospect," Blackbourn wrote in a note to Kennedy following Harvard's 1955 season.

Of course, he declined. Law school awaited, as did a career in politics.

"Another contact sport," as Kennedy so famously put it.

The political career of Ted Kennedy, who died after a 15-month battle with brain cancer late Tuesday night, will be well documented over the coming days, weeks, and years. He will be eulogized, criticized, even lionized. The Senator served in office for a remarkable 47 years — in a tragic twist, longer than any of his brothers even lived.

Some will speak of the political while others will bring up the character flaws. Chappaquiddick, they'll say.

The Senator sure survived his fair share of hits in the political arena; perhaps his reputation as a survivor was rooted in sports.

Ted Kennedy a Success in More Than One Contact Sport Kennedy was a fierce debater and a passionate spokesman for his Democratic Party. Yet he was never afraid to cross party lines if the cause was right. He played the game well.

By all accounts, he was a talented athlete, the most successful of his brothers in his Harvard football career. That competitive spirit so often played out in those infamous Kennedy backyard touch-football games on the Cape — always tightly contested, as Ted would fondly remember.

The statesman was also a sportsman, often seeking peace of mind and a stiff sea breeze aboard his sailboat.

And Kennedy wore his loyalty to the Red Sox on his sleeve, telling NESN in a 2004 interview that as a kid he longed to be one of the Royal Rooters that his grandfather, former Boston mayor Honey Fitzgerald, often spoke of.

"Honey Fitz" threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park's opening in 1912. And in a scene that surely softened even the hardest-lined Republican, Ted did the same before this year's opening day, some 97 years later. The moment was bittersweet; we all new he didn't have much time.

In Foxborough on Wednesday, Bill Belichick opened his daily media session with a few poignant reflections on the Senator. Kennedy sent him regular personal notes of congratulations after big wins and encouragement following losses.

Putting partisan politics aside for a moment, it is necessary to appreciate Ted Kennedy's impact. He is a critical part of this country's history; his prints are all over legislature that guides our lives.

Indeed, Ted Kennedy knew how to play the game.

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