Shoulders rubbed at the Ivy Football Association Dinner. That’s what happens when 1,200 alumni of Ivy League football gather for a reunion.
“It’s quite an amazing thing that happens when people kind of bang heads for a number of years but also have brains,” said Michael O’Flynn, who played defensive end at Dartmouth, where former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson also played. “It teaches you to get up after being knocked down. It teaches you to do things you never dreamed of doing.”
At the Marriott Marquis on Feb. 7, guests stood for the national anthem, and heckled the guy who pronounced Harvard “Haah-vud.”
Championship rings from both the Ivy League and the National Football League glimmered, though not everyone wore one.
Peter Salovey, incoming president of Yale, left his at home. It’s for Yale’s 2006 championship, split with Princeton, and the last time the team won the title.
“I have to tell you, it’s a real source of pride to watch a group of scholar athletes,” Salovey said during dinner, where he sat with Yale’s head football coach, Tony Reno.
“Working as a team, you learn self-discipline, you learn how to be gracious whether you win or lose,” said Salovey, a psychology professor. “My goal is we should get the most we can out of our athletics program, in terms of student development.”
“I make sure I keep in touch with all these guys because they’re the movers and shakers,” said Zak DeOssie, who played for Brown University and has won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants.
For O’Flynn, a managing director at Moscow-based UFG Asset Management, football is a credential. “I always give a little bit extra helping football players, knowing that these guys would persevere under stress,” he said.
The bond forged on campus and beyond is the glue of the dinner, which also drew Cornell alumnus Kevin Boothe of the New York Giants and William Campbell, chairman of Intuit Inc., who played and coached for Columbia.
“What we try to do is to celebrate and promote the brand of Ivy League football, and honor those who’ve become successful,” said Gary Vura, a vice president at ICAP Plc and quarterback for the Penn Quakers 30 years ago.
Hill recalled a conversation with a high-school student deciding between the Southeast Conference and the Ivy League.
Hill said he told the student, “If you go to the Ivy League, you’ll come out with a love of knowledge and be in a position to make a difference, and that’s something.”
Representing University Of Pennsylvania was Robert Wolf, who recently left UBS to found 32 Advisors LLC, named after his jersey number as a Penn Quaker.
“Thank you for this award, as definitive proof to my two sons that all my stories are true,” Wolf said.
Also honored were Thomas Catena of Brown, a doctor in the Sudan; Marcellus Wiley of Columbia, an analyst and host for ESPN who played on four NFL teams; and Tim Ring of Cornell, chairman and CEO of C.R. Bard Inc., who had the funniest video tribute thanks to Ed Marinaro, who played for Cornell and the NFL and had a regular role in “Hill Street Blues.”
Harvard honoree Jerry Jordan, co-founder and chairman of Hellman Jordan Management Co., wore a cummerbund embroidered with the Harvard seal.
Dessert featured a chocolate shell in the shape of a football with raspberries inside.
“There are a lot more similarities than differences,” Harvard’s head football coach, Tim Murphy, said of the guests who spent four years as rivals. “The great thing about the evening is we’re all on the same team.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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