A Modern Day Rudy - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

A Modern Day Rudy

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The movie goes down in history as one of the most inspiring films of all time.

It's a legendary name that when heard, you instantly think, Notre Dame.

The story of Daniel "Rudy" Ruttiger. A walk-on for Notre Dame's football team, who didn't see playing time until his last home game his senior year in 1974. He was carried off the field.

Flash-forward almost 40 years later, and a similar story is playing out again.  Enter #35 Joe Romano.

Only 5'9, weighing in at 180 pounds, Joe Romano is the smallest player on the team. Number 35 has taken hit after hit, but has never played in a game.

His mother Peggy Romano says, "You know, a football player just wants to get out there and play. That's what it's all about. And I know for him he's at some level probably disappointed, but all in all he's lived a dream."

Joe will be on the sidelines at the Pinstripe Bowl Saturday, and his family will anxiously be waiting in Yankee Stadium, hoping for that Rudy moment where the coach puts him in to play. His mother says if he goes into play, "Oh I would cry. I would cry. That would be the icing on the cake to his dream."
    
FOX28 asked many of the football players, from Notre Dame and Rutgers, about Joe's inspiring Rudy-like story.

Notre Dame Quarterback Tommy Rees commented on Joe's work ethic, saying, "He doesn't want to be known as a Rudy guy. He's one of the guys. He goes out there everyday and works his butt off."

Captain of the Rutgers football team, Darius Hamilton remembers watching Rudy as a child, and says,"It's a great movie, man. It's a classic. I've never been a huge Notre Dame fan, but Rudy's definitely a classic."

Notre Dame Captain Zack Martin says, "Joe especially whose one of the older walk-ons. He's been here for the last 4 years and comes in and works hit butt off everyday. He deserves it and we hope we can get an opportunity to get him in there."

Joe himself didn't want to talk about the hype on camera. He says the Pinstripe Bowl is about the team, and he doesn't want to distract from the goal of beating Rutgers.

Just like the movie, this is Joe's Senior year. Saturday will be his last game with the Irish. Joe doesn't want the attention, but you can't blame a proud mom for hoping to see her son fulfill that Rudy moment.  

His mother adds, "If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. And if it doesn't, he's just has the respect and the experience he's had helping these guys win games."

To add to the story, Joe isn't the first in his family to play at Notre Dame. His grandfather played for the Irish back in 1949. Joe's mom and about 20 of his relatives will be at the Pinstripe bowl Saturday.

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