Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Jordan Rules

TigerBlog will never be able to think of Grant Wahl without thinking of Bill Jordan. 

If you follow international soccer, then you know who Grant Wahl is. He's as good as it gets in the field and has been for a long time, with Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and now with CBS.

When he was at SI, Grant wrote the cover story that made then-high school junior LeBron James into a household name. The story, which you can read HERE, is a nice throwback to when James wasn't the international business he is now. 

It's a really good piece of writing. So is a lot of what Grant has written.

It's just that it'll be hard for Grant to ever top his take on the Jordan rules, which was his story in 1994 in the Daily Princetonian about then-Princeton senior running back Bill Jordan.

Okay, maybe TB is exaggerating just a bit. Or is he? You can decide for yourself HERE.

If you don't feel like reading the whole thing, here's a small part of it:

Bill Jordan is laughing. In his bedroom, telling stories about his "homies" and his family, who really are synonymous. In the media guide, next to mug shots of his grim-faced, Adam's appleexposing teammates. Come to think of it, Jordan laughs just about anywhere. Jordan is slow. Not slow of mind, but of pace. He doesn't keep a calendar. His admittedly rambling drawl presents a welcome contrast to the usual what's-up-see-you-later type oh campus. He watches every minute of Monday Night Football. Bill Jordan doesn't rush things.

Then consider that this was for the school paper, back when Grant was a Princeton student (and a Princeton Office of Athletic Communications student-worker). 

TB remembers reading the Jordan story when it first came out and being awed by the writing. He read it again yesterday, and it brought back all the same feelings. TB remembers reading it and learning from it and then later applying that to pieces he's written. And still writes.

Also if you didn't read the story, Jordan's father was an Air Force pilot, and he moved around a lot as a kid. The 1995 football media guide lists his hometown as Montevideo, Uruguay.

TigerBlog saw Bill Jordan for the first time in years at Steve DiGregorio's funeral Monday. Jordan was one of the former football players who dropped everything to be there for their former coach.

Jordan had an interesting Princeton football career. He was the leading rusher on the 1991 freshman team, back when there were still freshman teams. He switched to defense as a sophomore and was a backup cornerback on the 1992 Ivy League championship team. 

As a junior he was Keith Elias' back up at running back. He was the starter his senior year, when he ran for 842 yards. He also was instrumental in the Big Three championship and bonfire that year, with 142 yards against Yale and 120 against Harvard in a pair of wins.

TB saw Jordan outside the church, and he didn't recognize him immediately through his mask. He was able to spend time with Jordan and another former Princeton running back, Marc Washington, at the reception aftewards.

Washington and Jordan asked TB about the current team, especially the offensive skill players. They talked about John Mack, the new Ford Family Director of Athletics. When TB mentioned Mack's time as an OAC student-worker as well, the conversation shifted to Grant and the story, as well as another former OAC student-worker, Jordan's Princeton roommate Marc Ross. 

They both joked about how the football record book needs to keep listing the 17 players it does under career yards per carry, since they rank 16th (Jordan, 4.24) and 17th (Washington, 4.20). TB assured them that he'd do his best there.

TB and Marc Ross have stayed in touch through the years. TB and Jordan have not. 

Still, TigerBlog remembers Jordan from his Princeton days as being very humble, very mature and very appreciative of whatever TB did for the program. He remembers him as a very strong, hard-working running back.

It was great to see him, and Washington, another great "kid." Kid? They're in their 40s now.

Obviously, it would have been better to see them under less tragic circumstances, though it says a lot about both that they were there. And of course about Digger.

It also says something about what Princeton Athletics are all about. TB says this all the time, but ultimately they're about the relationships that are formed and how the shared experiences stay with you forever, even for the case of the guy who was the team's communications contact at the time. 

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