It seems that everyone these days is aware of the movie story side of former Notre Dame walk on Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, yet the real side of this man is something that doesn’t always match up to the movie perspective. Today Mr. Ruettiger and his 12 co-defendants in a pump and dump stock scheme agreed to a settlement to put an end to a long SEC investigation. While the settlement did not admit or deny guilt, it does put a little tarnish on the golden helmet of the Rudy image that Hollywood has put in our minds.
The movie “Rudy” is the story of how the small but always scrappy Ruettiger persevered through endless tough Notre Dame Practices and finally got the chance to play. In the movie the players demand that Rudy get the chance to suit up and he responds by making a big play. In typical Hollywood fashion he is then carried off on their shoulders to his place in sports immortality.
Now I have known for many years that this image didn’t really match up with reality in South Bend. Now of course films always take “cinematic license” to create suspense and intrigue, but there is such a thing as stretching the truth a little too far.
I’ve personally known a few people who have played football for the Fighting Irish and from what they have told me I know that Ruettiger was not as revered by them as by people on the outside looking in. I got the feeling that he was considered almost like an annoying hanger on trying to cash in on the program. Joe Montana even has made some public comments in the past that have back this up. I’ve been to Notre Dame a few times for games and it is certainly an inspiring place. Just being there you can almost feel the history just oozing out of everywhere you look. I did all the great fan things such as running down the tunnel and hitting the play like a champion sign, that did make me feel great. When I was in the locker room I was even tempted to recreate the Gipper speech just like Rudy does himself in the film, although the look of embarrassment my player friend flashed at me was enough to reel this guy’s emotions in.
The question though that everything begs, is how much of this is real? This pump and dump stock scheme it seems might be closer to the real Dan Ruettiger than the film ever got. According to the SEC complaint, the company known as Rudy Nutrition pumped up its stock through false and misleading information to generate more than $11 million in illicit profits. Through the use of shell companies, disbarred lawyers, and a series of Panamanian corporations; the company was able to make their stock soar from $0.25 all the way to $1.05 before the SEC issued a trading suspension due to delinquent regulatory findings.
The complaint states that Ruettiger claimed that the company’s Rudy sports drink outsold Gatorade 2-1. Now I know the guy is pretty much a Hollywood celebrity with a great feel good story, but Jesus Christ did investors really believe that. Part of me believes that anyone who thinks that Rudy sports drink could outsell the king like that deserves to have their money stolen. The slogan of the sports drink was “Dream Big! Never Quit!” which makes sense if its referring to audacity with which these jokers conceived to bilk their investors.
In the film when finally given the chance Rudy comes in to record a sack and is carried off into the sunset. You’d think that running a scheme like this he might be carried off to Sunset Correctional Facility or something, but nope they simply settled the case for a settlement of $382,866. That seems awfully light to me for something they claim incurred $11 million dollars in illicit profits. Then again being the little fella that he is maybe we should take it easy on good ol’ Rudy.
Now Rudy is a great film, if you haven’t seen it you should go out and rent it and enjoy it, but it’s just that a film. You should always take these based on a true story items with a grain of salt. Even Head Coach Dan Devine, who agreed to a heavier than reality portrayal, called the scene where the players come in and lay down their jerseys on his desk as “unforgiveable” and “a lie”. Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger is no hero, Sean Austin Scott’s character of Rudy is. Ruettiger is just a normal person like any one of us, probably a little more flawed than most of us, and trying to cash in on fame like hardly any of us.