The 2019 Golden Gophers football team is undefeated and ranked No. 7 by the Associated Press. It’s the highest the team has been ranked since it was No. 5 on Nov. 19, 1962. Dating back to last season, the Gophers have won 11 straight games, tied for the third-longest winning streak in the nation. The 9-0 record this season is the team’s best record since the 1904 squad went 13-0.
It’s Homecoming Weekend at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and in the spirit of that we roll out this relic from 1947, supplied by Kristy Roschke, managing director of the News Co/Lab at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. The photo is of her grandparents, Dan and Joanne Devine, partaking in homecoming festivities at UMD. Joanne was homecoming queen; Dan was captain of the football and basketball teams.
Season 1, episode 11 of the Minnesota Vikings video series “Beyond the Gridiron” profiles Duluth native C.J. Ham, telling the story of his journey from Denfeld High School to the National Football League.
Duluth native C.J. Ham took a handoff from backup quarterback Case Keenum and surged into the end zone for a 2-yard score against the Pittsburgh Steelers today. It was Ham’s first regular season touchdown in the National Football League, on his first carry. The Vikings lost the game 26-9.
Minnesota Vikings running back C.J. Ham has been lining up at fullback during the team’s 2017 rookie mini-camp. The Duluth native broke into the NFL last season as a tailback.
Ham was on the Vikings practice squad in 2016 and was briefly on the active roster but did not play in a regular season game, making him eligible to participate in this season’s rookie camp. Vikings Team Reporter Eric Smith wrote on Vikings.com today that during team drills Ham “lined up as a fullback in front of Vikings rookie Dalvin Cook.”
The Minnesota Vikings announced today rookie running back C.J. Ham of Duluth has been signed to the team’s 53-man roster.
Ham joined the Vikings during rookie camp on a tryout basis and signed to the practice squad after final roster cuts. He played high school ball at Denfeld, graduating in 2011. At Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., he totaled 2,662 rushing yards, 949 receiving yards and 35 total touchdowns in 43 games.
Minnesota (7-7) visits Green Bay (8-6) on Saturday.
Duluth native C.J. Ham is the Minnesota Vikings leading rusher over the first two preseason contests. He has gained 60 yards on 20 attempts, including a game-winning touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in week one. He also has three receptions for 27 yards.
“It’s been a dream come true,” Ham told WCCO-TV. “Just having the opportunity to be in the NFL and be with the team I grew up watching, it’s a dream come true.”
Since next week is Valentine’s Day, our theme will be “Love, Duluthian Style,” whatever that means to you. Send your suggested quiz questions (and answers) to lawrence @ perfectduluthday.com by noon on Wednesday, Feb. 10.
For three seasons, the Green Bay Packers divided up their team for inter-squad scrimmage games in Duluth. The first-group players, or “starters,” played for the Packers, and the second group players, or “benchwarmers,” took the name of the Duluth Eskimos. Of course, there was an actual Duluth Eskimos NFL team from 1923 to ’27, but the games referred to in this post were from 1951 to ’53.
The scrimmages were known as “The Fish Bowl,” and attracted crowds of about 8,000. The Packers won two of the three games, both by small margins, but in 1952 the backup players, under the name Duluth Eskimos, defeated the Green Bay starters by a score of 34-7.
In promotion of his recently released book, Hillsider, Duluth Mayor Don Ness has repeatedly shared his story of “a gift not given.” It’s from pages 155-156, under the title “Clooney & Zellweger.” The abridged version of the story goes like this:
George Clooney and Renee Zellweger made a trip to Duluth in 2008 to promote the movie Leatherheads, the plot of which is loosely based on the Duluth Eskimos football team. Ness was in his first month as mayor, and obviously wanted to impress the celebrities and do Duluth proud in front of the national media. He assigned his staff to put together an appropriate welcome gift for Clooney and Zellweger. The process of hunting down an old leatherhead helmet for an impressive plaque turned daunting, however, and on the morning of the visit the mayor discovered the gift ended up being a rather pathetic-looking miniature leatherhead resting on a small wooden pedestal. Ness made the executive decision to present the customary mayoral proclamation instead. He concludes his story with the punchline: “Over the years I’ve reconsidered a lot of choices. This isn’t one of ’em.”
Ness told the story last night at the DECC, which reminded me that after he told the story a few weeks ago at the Red Herring Lounge I asked him what happened to the silly little leatherhead-on-a-stick. He said he had no idea. It’s not in his office, and he hasn’t really asked around about it.
Did it land in the trash? Is it on a city employee’s mantle? Inquiring minds want to know.