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“It’s not just a game, it’s the game.”

So states 76-year-old Frank Downing ’51, World War II-era Lafayette quarterback. He speaks, of course, of the annual football game between Lafayette and Lehigh. At 7 p.m. EST Sunday, Sept. 12, just in time for the kickoff of the college football season, Lehigh Valley PBS station WLVT (Channel 39) will premiere a documentary on the series, The Lehigh-Lafayette Legacy. Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas, best known as the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies and NFL Films, narrates the program.

Lafayette and Lehigh have been battling each other on the gridiron nearly every year — twice in the early years — since 1884. The Lehigh-Lafayette Legacy takes a nostalgic look back at some of the most exciting and poignant moments of the rivlary, which will mark its 140th meeting Saturday, Nov. 20, at Fisher Field.

Through the cooperation of Lafayette and Lehigh, the documentary features a wealth of archival game film dating back as far as 1947. Classic highlights include the famous fog game in 1955, the 100th game in 1964, and the last match-up played at Taylor Stadium in 1987. In addition, viewers will catch thrilling moments from more recent games, such as the spectacular overtime finish of 1995 and the Lafayette upset in 2002. And, PBS 39 was on hand to film last year’s contest.

The Lehigh-Lafayette Legacy features personal stories from the players, coaches, and families who left their mark on this historic rivalry. For instance, Mike and Brian Gregorek ’01, along with their understandably conflicted parents, faced a family dilemma when sibling rivalry transformed into sports rivalry during the 2000 Lafayette-Lehigh contest. Blood may be thicker than water, but all bets were off when these brothers met head-to-head on the football field.

During World War II, while their teams still battled on the playing field, members of past Lafayette and Lehigh teams who met on the real battlefields of Europe and the Pacific put aside their old college rivalry and developed strong bonds. Some of the players from the Greatest Generation share their stories over the course of the one-hour documentary.

The Lehigh-Lafayette Legacy also looks at how the rivalry has changed the game of football itself. In the early days of the sport, the game was played with little or no protective gear. It was Lafayette player George Barclay 1898 who ushered in the era of injury-reducing safety equipment when he invented the football helmet in 1896.

For information on ordering the VHS or DVD of The Lehigh-Lafayette Legacy, call WLVT at 610-984-8100 or visit its web site.

Categorized in: In the Media