November 12, 2007, - 2:51 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Recently, I told you about how one distant relative of Notre Dame football great George Gipp okayed the exhumation of his body, 87 years after the man was buried. As you probably know, Gipp’s death of pneumonia in his senior year in 1920 was the inspiration for the phrase, “Win One for the Gipper.” His story was made even more famous when Ronald Reagan played him in “Knute Rockne, All American.”
Why, I asked, would they dig this guy up 87 years after his death? He’s nothing more than bones and any family quarrel over rights to his name and story would have been decided long ago.
Well, it turns out Gipp’s body was dug up for a paternity test to determine if Gipp had an out-of-wedlock daughter with his girlfriend. And this was done for profit and to promote a book. I understood why Gipp’s relatives were upset about this. Now, I understand it even more so. They should be furious. And they are. George Gipp should have been allowed to rest in peace.
[Gipp] had been exhumed for a genetic test to determine whether he had had an illegitimate daughter nearly a century ago, a family member said Friday.
The test’s results, which compared Gipp’s DNA with that of a recently deceased 87-year-old woman from Crown Point, Ind., were released Friday and found there was no connection.
While the exhumation was approved by a Gipp family member, other relatives, already irate over the disinterment, were doubly angry when they learned about the empty results.
“It’s just a disgusting thing,” said Ron Gipp, 62, a distant cousin who lives in Gipp’s hometown of Laurium.
Another cousin, Karl Gipp, 70, of nearby Skanee said the DNA test was done solely to promote an upcoming book about the football player’s life.
“It’s gruesome is what it is,” he said. “It’s a disgrace to the community, to Calumet (where Gipp attended high school) and it definitely disgraced the Gipp family.”
Even the Crown Point woman’s family, who unwittingly spurred the exhumation by telling the book’s author about their suspicions of Gipp’s paternity, was aghast over what followed.
Eva Bright’s two daughters have stopped talking to the author, Mike Bynum.
“I know one of them is pretty upset at me because the body got exhumed,” Bynum said.
The women, Ellen Easton and Paula Krebes, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Bynum, who helped set up the exhumation and DNA tests, said he was just trying to bring two families together, not promote his book. [DS: Riiiiight.]
“That’s the least of anyone’s interest,” he said about the tome, which will be published in the fall.
Rick Frueh, the Gipp relative who approved the exhumation, is working with Bynum on the book and will receive royalties from it, Bynum said.
Frueh, in a written statement that Bynum helped prepare, said he was trying to help a family that may have been related to him as it tried to solve a mystery.
“Helping family is the strongest act of love that we can offer each other,” Frueh wrote.
If the sisters–the daughters of this woman–were so upset, why did they provide their mother’s DNA to do the test?
The whole thing is sickening.
Brings new meaning to the phrase “shameless self-promotion.”
Tags: All American, author, Debbie Schlussel Recently, Ellen Easton, Eva Bright, family member, football, football player, George Gipp, Indiana, Karl Gipp, Knute Rockne, Mike Bynum, Paula Krebes, pneumonia, Rick Frueh, Ron Gipp, Ronald Reagan