Knute Rockne was the coach at Notre Dame, and his star player, George Gipp, died of strep throat not long after he played his final game.
The young actor who portrayed Gipp in that film, Ronald Reagan, ended up becoming president of the United States. While running for the highest office in the land, Reagan was nicknamed "The Gipper" and he used "win one for the Gipper" as a political slogan.
As the story goes, when Gipp fell ill, he told Rockne to promise that when things were going badly for the Fighting Irish, he should inspire the players by asking them to "win one for the Gipper." Eight years after Gipp's death, Rockne told his struggling team, which was trailing a favored Army squad, 6-0, at halftime, about Gipp and his request to win the game for him.
Notre Dame rallied for a 12-6 triumph. The story is true, as unbelievable as it seems.
Then again, almost everything about the Fighting Irish's football history seems hard to believe. In many ways, Notre Dame epitomizes college football.