Untold Stories: Legendary Football Stars Who Shone Bright at Dartmouth College


People often hear and use the term “Ivy League university” without really understanding what it implies. While the Ivy League is an athletic conference founded in 1954, the phrase has been in common use since at least 1933. It refers to a group of eight colleges that are considered the nation’s oldest elite colleges. The formal league founded in the fifties consists of eight schools, and all but one (Cornell) were founded before the American Revolution.

Dartmouth is one of the “Ivies” and was founded in 1769. The college boasts many distinguished alumni, including multiple U.S. governors, representatives, and senators, as well as more than a dozen Pulitzer Prize winners and 3 Nobel Prize winners.

However, to those graduates, many fond memories come from their longstanding excellence at sports, including an astonishing 51 Olympic medalists. There is pride in the fact that these student-athletes also met high standards for academic performance.

On the Gridiron and in Life

The demanding curriculum was conquered by a long list of players who achieved recognition on the “Big Green” playing field and in later life. From the Super Bowl to business, there is a large complement of Dartmouth football players who went on to success after leaving the school’s bucolic setting in New Hampshire.

One of the first names associated with Dartmouth and football is, of course, Reggie Williams. This talented linebacker arrived from Flint, Michigan, and earned numerous spots on the All-Ivy, All-New England, and All-American lists. He also boasts of membership in the Dartmouth and College Halls of Fame. His success with the Cincinnati Bengals included selection to the 1976 All-Rookie Team and two trips to the Super Bowl.

Another All-America and All-Ivy player came along when Casey Cramer entered the class of 2004. An amazing tight end with exceptionally gifted hands, Cramer was drafted into the NFL and played with Tampa Bay, Carolina, and the Tennessee Titans.

Consistency should have been the middle name of another Big Green legend, Dennis Durkin. During his time on the playing field, he set many season and career-kicking records that are still on the books today. His 13 for 13 field goals his senior year was just one feat that earned him spots on several select teams, including AP First Team All-American. His skills made a major contribution to the fondly remembered run of Ivy League football championships in 90, 91, and 92. The consistent stellar performance Durkin showed at Dartmouth continued with gaining an MBA at Harvard and success in positions with Microsoft and Activision Blizzard.

Another well-remembered string of success came during the time of another high-performing athlete, Murray Bowden. In 1969 and 1970 the team won all but one of its 18 games, and Bowden was co-captain during the undefeated 1970 campaign. As with so many of his fellow Big Green alumni, Bowden went on to further education and founded a successful private real estate firm in Houston, Texas.

It would take a much longer listing to include other Dartmouth greats, including those represented today in the Halls of Fame of the school and of college football. These would include the All-American guard Clarence Spears, quarterback Andrew Oberlander, who captained the national championship team of 1925, and Myles Lane, who holds the all-time scoring record at Dartmouth.

Of course, you shouldn’t leave out another overachiever, Edward Healy. This player from the class of 22 went on to play for the Chicago Bears and was installed in the Professional Football Hall of Fame.
Sit down at one of the popular pubs in Hanover and you will hear other names bantered about in admiration and warm memories. However, unlike many schools, you will also probably hear just as much about their wins after they left those hallowed halls.

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