My All American. The Freddie Steinmark Movie

My All American. The Freddie Steinmark Movie

Freddie SteinmarkThere are certain players that every UT fan considers among the great Longhorns ever; Bobby Layne, Earl Campbell, Tommy Nobis, and newer guys like Vince Young and Jordan Shipley. But there’s one player that is also one of the greats, whose career never progressed due to tragic circumstances. He was Freddie Steinmark, a Junior starting safety who played under Darrell Royal. Freddie was only about 5’10” and weighed about 160 but he was a valuable and productive member of the team. He played defensive back as a freshman, sophomore and junior, and was the team’s leading punt returner his second year on the team.

December 9th, 1969; the Big Shootout. Texas vs. Arkansas for what was, back then, considered the National Championship. The 100th anniversary of college football itself and, at the time, the largest television audience for a football game ever. President Richard Nixon was at the game. Coach Royal led the team to a victory and little Freddie Steinmark had a big hand in the victory. Despite his size, many were speculating that he had a career ahead of him in the pros; but a week after the game, Steinmark ended up in the hospital.

What they thought was some kind of deep bruise suffered in the Shootout turned out to be a tumor. A bone sarcoma located in his left leg turned out to be the culprit instead of a football injury, and shortly thereafter it had to be amputated. That was the end of Freddie’s football career. But he took in stride and soon became a beacon of hope and inspiration for millions of cancer patients. Three weeks after his amputation he showed up on the crutches to the Cotton Bowl, Texas vs. Notre Dame, to rousing applause and admiration.

Steinmark’s story became national news, especially after Texas won the Cotton Bowl. The country rallied behind the young man. He was UT’s freshman defensive backs coach the following year. Steinmark and Coach Royal were invited to the White House by President Nixon for the start of the annual fundraising drive of the American Cancer Society. Freddie, being a devout Catholic, cited his faith, his belief in himself and in God as his motivators for not giving up on his growing struggle with cancer as it progressed despite extensive treatments. He used his position to raise awareness and money, speaking at fundraiser events, he even wrote an autobiography about his journey. But it was on April 20th, 1971 when he was admitted into a hospital for the flu and passed away about six weeks later.

Now Hollywood has recognized how inspiring Freddie was and they’re making a movie about him. It’s called My All American and it has Aaron Eckhart playing Darrell Royal and it’s being directed by Angelo Pizzo, best known for writing the scripts for the movies Hoosiers and The Game of their Lives. I didn’t see the second one, but the first is one of the greatest sports movies ever made! So it looks like Freddie Steinmark’s story is in good hands. The movie starts shooting in and around Austin next month and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

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