What's in a name? Plenty when it comes to Fordham's Seven Blocks of Granite.
The Rams were a powerhouse before suspending football after the 1942 season for the duration of World War II. They posted 14 consecutive winning seasons from 1929-42, going to bowl games following the 1940 and 1941 seasons.
The high point came in 1937, when the Seven Blocks of Granite — Alex Wojciechowicz, Leo Paquin, Johnny Druze, Ed Franco, Al Babartsky (Bart), Natty Pierce and Vince Lombardi — paved the way to the sports moment judged the greatest in Fordham history.
“Nobody scored against this team,” Frank McLaughlin, the associate vice president of athletics at Fordham, said this year. “They were really famous because they were the focus of the team on offense and on defense. Back then, it was primarily line play, and these guys played both ways. They were the stars.”
Their nickname was originally given to Fordham's dominant linemen in 1929-30 by Tony Cohane, sports editor of the school newspaper. Cohane revived it as Fordham's sports information director in 1936, when Rams appeared headed to the Rose Bowl.
But those hopes ended with a 7-6 loss to NYU in the season finale, which Lombardi said was the most crushing defeat he experienced as a player or a coach.
“Cohane originally came up with the name for the 1929 team, which went 15-1-2 over two years,” McLaughlin said. “This included 12 shutouts. They revised the name for the 1936-37 team. They really became better known because of Lombardi and Wojciechowicz. They had a two-year record of 12-1-3 with eight shutouts.”
The Rams went 7-0-1 in 1937, averaging 215.1 rushing yards per game and finishing No. 3 in the final Associated Press poll.
They tied No. 1-ranked Pitt 0-0 — the third consecutive scoreless tie between the Eastern rivals — and beat No. 19 North Carolina 14-0. They also defeated TCU, which won the national championship in 1938.
However, they were snubbed for the Rose Bowl after Pitt declined an invitation, so The Forgotten Rams never received their full due.
But the Seven Blocks of Granite became immortalized.
A monument built in 2008 on campus commemorates them. It includes the names of all the members with seven granite blocks resting at its base.
The name also lives on in other ways.
In 1936, when Homer Marshman founded a pro football team in Cleveland, he named them "Rams" after his favorite football team — the Fordham Rams. The Cleveland Rams joined the NFL in 1937, moved to Los Angeles in 1946, then to St. Louis in 1995 and back to Los Angeles this year.
In 2000, the Rams won the Super Bowl and the trophy awarded to NFL champions — the Lombardi Trophy.
• Fordham Hall of Fame
Vince Lombardi: The Fordham years
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Above: Fordham's offense in 1937, including the line famously nicknamed the Seven Blocks of Granite. Vince Lombardi is in the front row, third from left. (Courtesy Fordham University)
Middle: Fordham's monument to the Seven Blocks of Granite, built in 2008. (Courtesy Fordham University)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Coastal Carolina (update) and Florida International
• Tuesday: Fordham and Furman
• Wednesday: Gardner-Webb and George Mason
• Thursday: George Washington and Grand Canyon
• Friday: Green Bay and Harvard