Tom Harmon was one of the greatest players in University of Michigan history, and on Saturday quarterback Devin Gardner donned a jersey with the number 98 to honor the Wolverines legend.
Harmon was the first UM player to win the Heisman Trophy, taking home the award in 1940. Harmon ended his career with a 40-0 victory over arch-rival Ohio State, a game in which he rushed for three touchdowns, threw for two more, kicked four PATs, and punted three times for an average of 50 yards.
After the game, Tom Harmon was given a standing ovation, and his No. 98 was retired from the team.
Until this season, that is. The team’s quarterback, Devin Gardner, has chosen to wear No. 98 as a tribute to the Michigan legend.
Harmon’s story grew even more interesting after he left the University of Michigan. He entered World War II, and as a fighter pilot for the Army Air Corps, he twice went missing in action. After the war, he married Hollywood actress Elyse Knox, and raised a family (including son Mark Harmon, himself a successful actor).
Tom Harmon would go on to lead a distinguished broadcasting career.
Devin Gardner said he was honored to wear No. 98 in honor of Tom Harmon. Gardner noted that the Michigan athletic facility has pictures of Harmon all over, and his legend is still pervasive on campus.
“Knowing all of the things he accomplished on the field for this program and then representing our country, and to have the opportunity to speak to his family today, it’s kind of surreal. I’m extremely humbled and blessed,” Gardner said in a press release.
Harmon’s family has met with Gardner, showing their appreciation for the quarterback’s tribute.
“My father would be only proud,” Mark Harmon told the Detroit Free-Press Saturday. “He’d be embarrassed, but he’d be proud. Embarrassed because he was a humble man and he thought no one did it alone… For Michigan, it’s an important day in recognizing my dad, both deserved. There wasn’t anything my dad did in his life that didn’t have the word Michigan attached to it.”
Devin Gardner’s tribute to Tom Harmon will continue on. The quarterback plans to wear No. 98 for the remainder of the year.