Home Miami jersey ‘Hoos Making a Difference’ Will Pay Tribute to Vigorito, Farrior in Today’s Rematch: Jerry Ratcliffe

‘Hoos Making a Difference’ Will Pay Tribute to Vigorito, Farrior in Today’s Rematch: Jerry Ratcliffe


By Jerry Ratcliffe

Joe Bock remembers walking into Virginia’s locker room after games and having black and blue bruises, shaped like masks on Tommy Vigorito’s back.

It was the kind of physical hits the rugged running back would take for the Cavaliers during his career (1977-80). To describe Vigorito as a workaholic would be an understatement.

“Viggy was the toughest running back I’ve ever seen,” Bock said Friday night at the Virginia Football Alumni Gathering. Bock, who had a long professional career, saw plenty of running backs during his time. “He never complained about all those litters, the physical punishments. He was a badass.

Vigorito, who traveled with his family from New Jersey to Charlottesville for today’s homecoming game, is one of two former players to be honored by the Virginia Football Alumni Club (special on-field ceremony). James “Potsie” Farrior (1993-96), also made the trip from Los Angeles with his family for special recognition.

This will be the first of two such recognitions for Farrior this fall. Next month, Farrior and another former UVA player, Heath Miller, will both be inducted into the Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame. More on Farrior momentarily.

When Vigorito left Virginia in 1980, he ranked No. 2 all-time on the Cavaliers running roster behind only John Papit, who set the mark from 1947 to 1950. Vigorito, who finished with 2 913 rushing yards, east still No. 7 on this list, having been surpassed only by Thomas Jones, Tiki Barber, Terry Kirby, Kevin Parks and Wali Lundy.

He’s totaled haul for 648 carries, still fifth by a UVA fullback, and is also 12th on the school’s all-time list with 3,922, including 587 yards in kickoff returns.

“I took a lot of hits,” Vigorito said on Friday night. “I’ve had a lot of concussions that I wasn’t aware of. Now they have doctors on the sidelines and after he examines you he tells you if you can play or not.

“I was young and stupid,” Vigorito said of the physical game.

From Virginia, he was drafted in the fifth round by the Miami Dolphins and Don Shula, for a five-year career. He has two favorite NFL memories, one being the Miami Marathon playoff win over San Diego, an all-time classic; and the other was an 87-yard game-winning kickoff return against Pittsburgh on Thursday Night Football.

“It was a [Miami] record, but someone broke it about four years ago,” Vigorito said.

Bock said there was a great quote from former Dolphins great Bob Kuenchenberg in Sports Illustrated about Vigorito. Kuenchenberg was a Miami guard for 14 seasons.

“Kuenchenberg was quoted as saying, ‘Vigorito has the fastest white feet I’ve ever seen,'” laughed Bock.

Still, with all of his football accomplishments, Vigorito said his favorite UVA moments had nothing to do with the stats.

“I think the guys I played with who are here this weekend are my fondest memories,” Vigorito said. “I spoke with several of them tonight. Guys I haven’t seen in years.

Saturday’s special recognition, the Hoos Making a Difference program launched by the football alumni club last year, means a lot to Vigorito, as it does to Farrior.

One of the greatest defensive players in UVA history, Farrior was first-team All-ACC his senior season, finishing third on the school’s career tackles list with 381. He came to the program by George Welsh as Matoaca High School’s Parade All-American.

Nicknamed “Potsie” by his parents, who took the name from the TV sitcom Happy Days, he was a key cog in some of Virginia’s biggest defenses along with Jamie Sharper, Anthony Poindexter and others.

Farrior went on to a famous 15-year career with the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers, where he won two Super Bowl rings, and was previously named to the Steelers Ring of Honor.

During his time at Steel City, Farrior recorded 1,440 tackles, 35.5 quarterback sacks, 11 interceptions and 18 forced fumbles for an intimidating defense.

He and his family moved to Los Angeles after living in Houston, and he is now a stay-at-home dad caring for his four children, three girls and one boy. Or as he joked Friday night, “I’m their taxi driver. They all like sports, so they keep me moving.

Being back in Charlottesville is a special weekend for Farrior and his family.

“Just being surrounded by all the people I know, that I’ve been in contact with over the years of UVA and all of my former teammates that I haven’t seen in so long is really special,” Farrior said. “It’s such a good feeling to be back and to be able to relive some of those great memories we had in Virginia.”

To be recognized by the football alumni club is also special.

“It means a lot to me. It’s definitely an honor, and I’m really humbled about what they’re doing for me and Tommy Vigorito,” Farrior said. created many memories with many of these people. For them to recognize me for my accomplishments on and off the field is really special. It’s something I will cherish for the rest of my life. »

Farrior has played for some of the best and most exciting Welsh sides, so he didn’t have to think too hard to choose some of his favorite UVA memorabilia.

“The best memory I have here is our 1995 win over Florida State (FSU’s first loss after 29 straight wins over ACC opponents),” Farrior said. “It’s something I will cherish for a long time, probably my whole life.”

The 1995 season was loaded with memories for Farrior, including a last-minute loss to No. 14 Michigan at the “Big House” to start the season (an 18-17 loss) and another last-minute loss at No. 16. Texas by a 51-yard field goal in the win at Texas (17-16). However, FSU was No. 2 nationally when the Cavaliers upset the Seminoles on one of the most magical nights in Scott Stadium history.

Farrior said beating Virginia Tech (42-23 in 1995) was also a highlight, just because of the rivalry, even though he went 1-3 against the Hokies.

One of the most underrated wins in UVA history came in 1996, a rematch with the Longhorns, this time in Charlottesville, and this time with a very different outcome.

“It was a paying game for us,” Farrior said. “We definitely took the defeat of the previous year to heart. It was special to beat those guys, to see a lot of their players play in the NFL. It was a good feeling to get them back.

19th-ranked Virginia knocked out No. 13 Texas, 37-13, and delivered a beating to famed Longhorns running back Ricky Williams, who was limited to 44 yards on 19 carries and no touchdowns.

“We tore it up this game,” smiled Farrior. “I remember we had a really good game against Ricky. We were playing with a chip on our shoulders and I think he took the brunt of it.

Farrior had an outstanding career with the Steelers, something he said was a dream come true.

“I never expected to be in the NFL. It was a long-time goal for me to grow up like any other kid and to have had a successful career like that, to live that, is something big. ‘incredibly special. I still pinch myself when I think about it.

So won his first Super Bowl.

“It was the first time I won something this big since Little League,” Farrior said. “That first one was definitely something special. Good memories.”

Just like being named to Pittsburgh’s Ring of Honor was special.

“When you look at the Steelers ring of honor and you see all these guys that are in there, just to be in it and have my name mentioned is amazing,” Farrior said. “Most of these guys are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and it feels good to be mentioned with those names.”

Farrior and his younger brother, Matt, started a foundation that provides financial aid and mentorship to students, assistance in various forms to families in need, scholarship financial assistance for students, and works with the National Bone Marrow Registry.