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Notre Dame Football: Jersey Number Countdown - 8

A pretty thin number to say the least.

Bobby Norell

If you follow me on Twitter, which a good number of you probably don’t, you know that for the last few weeks I’ve been posting photos of old and current ND players in countdown to the first game. Today we are officially 8(!!!) days away from kickoff between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Temple Owls, so here are your 8s. After a plethora of players to choose from yesterday, not so much today.

Frank Tripucka - QB - 1945-48

Tripucka sat behind Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lattner for three seasons before being handled the role in 1948. The Irish didn’t skip a beat though as he led them to a 9-0-1 record and their third straight unbeaten season. If it wasn’t for a tie at the end of the season against USC, the Irish would have been ranked No.1 and awarded the National Title for the third straight year. For the standards of the day Tripucka was a great passer He threw for 660 yards and what was then a school record 11 touchdown in 1949.

After Notre Dame, Tripucka was drafted in the first round and ninth overall in the 1949 NFL Draft. He’d go on to have a lengthy career in both the NFL and AFL. He played one season with the Detroit Lions before spending seven seasons in the Canadian Football league. After the ‘59 season, Tripucka returned stateside to the newly formed AFL. Tripucka played four seasons for the Denver Broncos. In 1960, Tripucka threw an AFL record 34 interceptions, but he also threw for a record 248-474 for 3,038 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also threw the first ever touchdown pass in AFL history. In a 1962 matchup with the Buffalo Bills, Tripucka threw for a franchise record 447 yards, which stood for 38 years before Gus Frerotte broke it. After 15 professional seasons, Tripucka retired in 1963. He was inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame and had his No. 18 retired as well. In 2012 when Peyton Manning was traded to the Broncos, Tripucka insisted on Manning wearing his No. 18.

Tripucka’s son, Kelly, played basketball at Notre Dame and starred on the great Irish teams of the 1970s.