CHICAGO – Mark Philmore told great stuff about last season and American Football in Poland. Not soccer, but American football. Polish American Football!!!!!! He is now making a big mark playing for the Wroclaw Crew in the Polish American Football League. He has the football pedigree, as both a former d Northwestern Wildcat and 2006 pre-season Chicago Bear.
The Crew had a good year but came up short, as they were runners-up to the Wrodaw Devils, 26-21 in Polish Bowl V.
He was at Wrigley Field for the Wrigleyville Classic that had Illinois beating Northwestern, 48-27 in a game played under very unusual circumstances. The famed marquee above the main entrance was painted purple, and panels along the stadium’s facade showed past and present Northwestern players instead of Chicago Cub icons. The sizzle was buzzing in and around the stadium. The adjacent bars and pubs were overflowing. It wasn’t a sell-out but the crowd energy was respectable.
The Big Ten announced that the schools had implemented several rules changes because of safety concerns. (Isn’t it the Big Ten’s job to administer rule changes?) Anyway, the atmosphere was great……but the Big Ten and NCAA get a black eye on this one. They messed with the game and made an unfair playing surface and screwed up the whole championship season for the Big Ten. It will be an asterisk season. Isn’t it the job of the Big Ten administrators, to make a fair playing experience? Did other Big Ten games change their conditions? Does this affect the standings? Is it a practice game? Does it affect Bowl Game placements? Can teams now play flag football? So many questions. And the adage, “It is the same for both teams,” doesn’t hold true. The changes were slight, but they messed up the game. Is it the silly season? Extrapolate changes to the classroom. If the game was about marketing opportunities, than why not pay the players a small stipend? Why have academic standards at Big Ten schools? Is it wrong to be a purist? Why not make everyone an All-America? Is the Big Ten fraudulent? Where does it stop?
Because of space and safety concerns at Wrigley Field, offensive plays ran only toward the west end zone near the third-base dugout. The east end zone in right field came within a foot of a heavily padded brick wall. So after changes in possession, the ball was repositioned.
Anyway, back to Philmore. He filled some of his free time in Poland giving English lessons. He is now back in Chicago, he was proud to wear his Northwestern letter jacket. He was diplomatic about this game. We laughed about czernina, and English rap idioms. He told how his Polish teammates, love Detroit native son, Eminem. “He is huge in Wroclaw,” Philmore told. Philmore loves his Wildcats and he is a great ambassador. The wide receiver played four years for Northwestern including the 2005 Sun Bowl against UCLA.
Move Over Jim Grabowski
Highlights included, Mikel Leshoure running for an Illini school-record 330 yards and two touchdowns. National Polish-American Hall of Famer, Jim Grabowski’s best day was November 14, 1964. He had 239 yard versus Wisconsin. He goes down one spot in the Illini record book.
Wrigley Field is a super tourist attraction. Not since the Bears left for Soldier Field following the 1970 season had football been played at Wrigley. It was even longer since the last college game. That was in 1938 between DePaul and St. Louis.
NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said diplomatically, that, to his knowledge, there had never been a game played under circumstances like these.
Jacek Urbanczyk contributed
November 22, 2010