29 years. 29 years since I sat in the kitchen of my high school buddy having lunch and we had heard on the radio (this was before cable, CNN, FOX, etc) that the mighty Ufer had passed away.
Thanks to the M-Zone for reminding me. I usually remember the date, strangely, as it's close to the date that the Edmund Fitzgerald sank, and you start to hear the Gordon Lightfoot tune associated with the tragedy. If you ask me why that reminds me of Ufer, it probably has a lot to do with the radio and the fact that I hear the tune on the radio, where I always heard Ufer. It's funny in a way. I remember a lot of things from the radio better than I ever have from seeing it on TV.
I know this makes me sound really, really old, but some of the best memories of Michigan Football I have come from the days of listening to Ufer on WJR. I know there are a lot of people that share that same sentiment. You only got a chance to see Michigan on Television for the Notre Dame game, MSU (maybe) and Ohio State. Which is what made those games great, too. But there was nothing quite like listening on the radio, when you could watch the game in your mind's eye where there were always sunny skies and cool fall breezes. Where Ufer would paint an image so vivid that seeing it on the news segement later seemed somehow anti-climatic at times. That's the truth.
Ufer could make a 15 yard gain sound like winning a National Title. He could make you get on your feet and get closer to the speaker, stop raking the leaves or doing whatever you were doing and just LISTEN! I will give some credit to Beckman as he had an impossible act to follow and he has done a great job...But the relationship we have with Frank on TV and the radio is different. Oh sure, Frank is a blatant homer just like Ufer was, but it's all different now.
And if you want to blame somebody for having to put up with my crap and love of Michigan today, you can blame Ufer.
But me, I could never, ever blame the Ufe for anything but being the best. There was never anyone that was better.
Sorry Ernie. And I mean that sincerely. Ufe was the greatest.