July 21, 2015
This is the last of a three-part series with Steve Raible, the radio play-by-play voice of the Seattle Seahawks. RamblinWreck.com’s Matt Winkeljohn sat down with him during a recent trip to Seattle.
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
SEATTLE – If the concept of royalty checks were defined a little differently, Steve Raible might be collecting on one of the more famous – or infamous — moments in Georgia Tech football history: the Rudy game.
Then again, if not for Hollywood, it might not be known as a moment at all.
With the Jackets slated to play at Notre Dame on Sept. 19, it is likely mention will be made of Tech’s visit to South Bend, Ind., for a forgettable contest late in 1975.
The Irish would win, 24-3, and little was notable but for its ending – a wrap-up not so clearly depicted by literary and cinematic revisionists who fanned a benign spark into the red-hot movie, “Rudy.”
A flick built around the last play, where walk-on Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger helped sack former Jacket quarterback Rudy Allen, made waves in ’93.
It was quite the box office hit. Nevermind that so much of it didn’t happen.
Perhaps the real hero was not the 5-foot-6, 165-pound Ruettiger, who played just that one snap in his career, and dressed out only for that game. If not for Raible’s speed, Ruettiger might not be the inspirational speaker that he has become, nor have this grand website.
“At the end we were throwing a little more trying to get in the game. Rudy Allen let one fly,” recalled Raible, a tight end/wide receiver who lettered in ’72-75. “I was a sprinter, but I couldn’t catch up to it. The defensive back was playing deep thirds, and he was standing there waiting to catch it.
“I made a lunge to slap it away so he wouldn’t intercept. The next play, Rudy gets on the field and makes the sack. So, if I let that guy intercept, there is no Rudy game, no legend that has grown up about Rudy Ruettiger. I said on this NFL Films [feature earlier this year] that he owes me something.” WATCH VIDEO
In the movie, players and fans thundered, “Rudy! Rudy!” after the game-ending play, and Ruettiger was lifted by teammates.
Former Notre Dame Quarterback Joe Montana, an Irish freshman at the time, has said many times that much of the movie was hyperbole.
Former Danny Myers was the Jackets’ primary quarterback in head coach Pepper Rodgers’ wishbone offense in ’75, and Allen was a designated thrower out of the bullpen.
Allen told the Athens Banner-Herald in 2006 that he couldn’t figure out why the crowd, or Notre Dame players, would be calling his name. It might have been just a teammate or two calling out Ruettiger, and Allen had no idea the nickname of the young man who’d sacked him.
Raible more or less calls bunk.
“I always get asked about the Rudy game because I played in it,” he said. “I don’t remember anybody getting carried off. I don’t remember any chanting, ‘Rudy, Rudy,’ and that’s mostly because it didn’t happen.
“Somebody sent me the YouTube video a few years ago. It was the last two plays . . . we were not happy group of campers. We had a wishbone offense that was great, and we just got stymied in South Bend.”
Raible carries many more fond memories of his time at Tech, where he graduated with a degree in industrial management.
After his first pro season, in ’77, he spent some time “hanging out” in Atlanta with former teammates, including younger quarterback Gary Lanier, and then returned to Seattle to work out and take an offseason job as a bar tender.
“One of my teammates at Tech, Mark Anderson, jumped in my car and drove out, cross country. We just had a great time, and went places we’d never been before,” Raible said. “Mark was a tight end who came in as a quarterback out of Tampa. He’s back in Tampa, and was my best friend in school.
“I stay in touch with [former wide receiver] Jimmy Robinson. We were teammates, and he coached in the NFL for years, with Dallas and Green Bay especially. He was in Atlanta for a short time when Jerry Glanville was there.”
As a player at Tech, Raible was a receiver when the Jackets didn’t throw much. He finished his career with 24 receptions, yet entered the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004 for his athletic feats, which included work as a sprinter, and his accomplishments after college.
He played for the Seahawks for six mostly awful seasons.
One particular NFL memory, notable because his parents traveled from Louisville to Pittsburgh to see him play, isn’t any warmer or fuzzier than the Rudy tale of college vintage.
“I had run a crossing route after lining up in the slot. [Quarterback Jim] Zorn looks strong side and dumps it to me on the weak side,” he said. “Just as I was crossing behind [Steelers linebacker] Jack Lambert, he swung his arm back and hit me right in the throat.
“I thought it broke my larynx. I couldn’t breathe for a few plays, couldn’t talk. We lost. I come out of the locker room and I’m waiting for somebody to say, ‘Hey, you guys played well.’ The first thing my Dad says was, ‘Boy, Lambert sure knocked the crap out of you, didn’t he?’ “
The Game’s been better lately.
Raible has won five regional Emmy awards as a local broadcaster, and he’s been behind the mic for 33 years, including the past two trips to the Super Bowl.
The first trip brought him a ring.
“There was a time not long ago when Seattle was voted the worst sports town because they lost the NBA team, the Mariners were bad, and toward the end of [former Seahawks head coach] Mike Holmgren’s reign and in Jim Mora’s one year here we won four games,” Raible said. “It’s been great of late, though.”