'Harvard Beats Yale 29-29' -- the documentary
A new documentary about Harvard's legendary football comeback to tie a heavily-favored Yale team in 1968 has gotten wonderful reviews. I'm from Boston, and in Beantown, Harvard-Yale still generates more buzz than any other regional college football game -- even if NFL players hatched from the Ivy League are a vanishing species.
I watched the game on local TV. It had the flavor of a rowdy, amateur grudge match. Harvard, which was down 26-13, scored twice with less than a minute to play to tie it. The movie's title, "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29," is lifted from a celebrated Harvard Crimson headline.
It turns out there were three celebrated players on the field that day and, remarkably, two made it into the NFL. The most famous of the trio, however, never played in the pros: Tommy Lee Jones, a Harvard offensive tackle from San Saba, Texas. I can assure you the Oscar-winning actor never got any space in the local sports pages back then.
The two big stars were both on Yale's team:
-- Running back Calvin Hill, who would win the NFL rookie-of-the-year award in 1969 with the Dallas Cowboys. Hill was a four-time Pro Bowl selection during his 12-year NFL career. His son Grant Hill favored a different sport and in 1995 won the NBA rookie-of-the-year award.
-- Quarterback Brian Dowling, who had a brief NFL career with the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, but whose exploits inspired cartoonist classmate Garry Trudeau, whose "B.D." character continues to grace the panels of the Doonesbury cartoon strip.
-- Barry Stavro
Photo: In this Nov. 23, 1968 photo, Harvard's Pete Varney (80) catches quarterback Frank Champis' two-point conversion pass in front of Yale's Ed Franklin (15) to tie the football game in Cambridge, Mass. Credit: Frank O'Brien file photo / The Boston Globe / Associated Press