Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Honoring Rob

At the close of the Kansas game, Steve Kerr said that Purdue should simply go back to West Lafayette and immediately retire Rob Hummel's number. This suggestion caught on immediately on Twitter and now with Facebook page devoted to it. We put out there that at Purdue, we don't retire numbers, as no one player is greater than the team.

Sure, there are numbers in the rafters, but those are specific to All-American selections. Those numbers are not retired. At Purdue, Drew Brees' number 15 isn't retired. Neither is John Wooden's 13. But do you have any doubt that those numbers are theirs? Of course you don't.

I remember I learned of the non-retirement policy when I was early in my time at Purdue and Mike Alstott was wrapping up his Boilermaker career. I assumed they would have to honor Mike with a retired number ceremony at some point, only to see someone take on #40 within about a year or two of Mike's departure.

I'm not suggesting Rob doesn't deserve the honor -- understand that. If tomorrow Morgan Burke announces that the number 4 will never be worn at Purdue again, I'll be right there alongside you all cheering the raising of Rob's number to the rafters. But is it necessary? Would Rob want to be the first number officially retired at Purdue? I can't speak for him, obviously, but my guess is he would prefer not.

Rob Hummel was the ultimate team guy. He wanted Purdue to succeed, he wanted his teammates to succeed and he wanted the fans to revel in that success. He wanted to reward Coach Painter's faith and confidence in him and he wanted to take Purdue as far as possible and very far from the dark days of where they were when he was recruited.

I think how Rob is honored has less to do with hanging a number and more to do with how you -- all the fans -- remember and respect him. He's already honored in your hearts, to put a corny phrase on it. The love I've seen from Purdue fans towards Rob Hummel is astounding. He's a guy who has earned that affection and a guy who -- in a time in sports where you often can't say this -- very much deserves it. Every single description of Rob is the same, from people who admire him from afar to the people who know him so well. He's a great guy, a terrific teammate and a bleeding gold and black Boilermaker. You all know that and you treat him as such. Not as a god, but as a Boilermaker. He makes you proud -- that's how you honor a legend.

So you know each time his smiling face is shown at Mackey, each time he comes back for a visit, if he catches on in the NBA and succeeds.... you know that we will all be cheering it and showering him with not only love and praise...but thanks. Thanks for being the guy we all needed him to be. Thanks for being the guy that Purdue needed at a critical time. Thanks for being so easy to root for it was almost hard to believe.

Given all of that, are symbolic gestures like jersey retirements even necessary? If your answer is still yes, then as I said, I won't argue vehemently against it. But if we have to go a symbolic route, what about something befitting of a guy who did things differently from the typical stars in today's game? Something unique.

What Hummel has been for fans and even members of the media is noteworthy.  But, what he has personified for current and future Purdue basketball players might be more important-  He's obviously a great basketball player who did a lot well and worked very hard and did the little things to become one of the nation's best. He's been a good guy off the court who almost-always had time for fans, especially kids. And lastly, and probably most-importantly, Hummel was a player who fought through adversity, defied odds, never backed down and did it all without complaining. That's being a Boilermaker...In fact, in an ideal world all Purdue players would try to display these traits. So maybe the players should have a reminder close by of what #4 meant to the program at a pivotal time.

I'm certainly open to more ideas and encourage you to share them, but what about an idea like a small "4" somewhere on the court? Along the baseline? Near one of his favorite three-point spots? Or how about, as a team guy, the "4" isn't put in the rafters but is modestly sized and placed on the floor near the Purdue bench? A nod to Rob's legacy at Purdue and what he meant to everyone, with the understanding that he meant the most to that bench of guys?

As I said, I would love to hear other suggestions that are outside the box. Rob was not your typical captain or your typical "star." So why not honor him in a nontypical way as well?

19 comments:

Rob said...

Great post! I'd love to see Robbie's #4 retired, but won't be angry if it's not. I agree that maybe John Wooden, Drew Brees, or Mike Alstott should have their # retired, if Purdue athletics did that. They were all great for Purdue, but for me Robbie is higher. Maybe it's the fact that I was at Purdue during Robbie's tenure on the court; I was at those games; cheered on the wins; and mourned the losses.

Brad said...

It might be corny, but I'd love to see someone put his jersey, back brace, and knee brace on the Boilermaker statue. Remind the fans what ideals the Boilermaker is all about...

Then, rather than retire his jersey, hang it in the locker room in a glass case along with his back brace and his knee brace. I'd love to see players have a daily reminder: "If Robbie can fight through all of that, so can I."

phoenyx29 said...

I'd love to see Rob's #4 up where it belongs, next to the rest of his (and my) incomming Class of 2007. As someone who came in with the Baby Boilers and is still here for Rob's final year, seeing E'twaun, JJ, and Rob's numbers hanging side by side in Mackey would be surreal.

However, I understand that at Purdue we have incredibly high standards for player recognition. Until last year, the only numbers raised were for unanimous All-Americans, and JaJuan Johnson was the latest addition. But last year, that rule changed to 2,000+ scorers, which enabled Troy Lewis and E'twaun Moore to join the Mackey rafters. I think this might have been intentional, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them amend it to 3+ All-B1G selections. There are only 13(ish) players to achieve such an honor, and the last Boilermaker to do so was Rick Mount (who is already honored).

If raising Rob's jersey isn't a possibility, I'd like to see the program institute a "Hummel award" as an additional award given at the end of the season (they also give Team MVP, Defensive POY, and Freshman of the Year awards). This would be given to the player who went through the most adversity throughout the year and came through with the attitude and production displayed by Rob during his five years here. Seeing a locker room plaque board displaying 'Hummel Award' winners would definitely be special to him and his family, and would totally be a typical Coach Painter motivational technique.

Eric said...

He obviously needs a featured menu item at the Triple X.

dasMetzger said...

i dont think placing a 4 anywhere on the court or sidelines is necessary. i understand what you mean about being a team guy... but placing a number on a court to me more resembles honoring the passing of someone. like when you put a number, or initials on the back of a helmet, or on a patch on a jersey.

and i thought that steve kerr hit it right during the broadcast, explaining that we at purdue DONT retire numbers. but we retire jerseys. maybe the phrasing isn't right... ,but the idea is the same. we honor the jersey that rob wore in some manner. just like we honor 2000pt scorers and consensus all american's jerseys. whether its a new stat requirement we come up with, or a unanimous decision to include his number in the rafters. i dunno. it can be up there without being the first 'retired' number. cant it?

dasMetzger said...

after reading the other comments... is it true that we added the requirement of 2000+pt scoring after last season? and retroactively included lewis' jersey along with moore's? if that's the case, then there is no question they will add the 3+ 1st team all-big 10 awards to the list, seeing as how that claim is already limited to only a dozen people in big10 history, and only one other purdue player. pretty elite class.

COD said...

The way to honor Robbie is to recruit more players like him, so that the team continues to play and live up to his standards.

That said, the Hummel Burger at XXX wouldn't be bad either.

Kara said...

LBD is absolutely adorable.

boilerdowd said...

Thanks Kara- I'm glad he was blessed with his Mom's looks.

Shadow300z said...

I was thinking what phoenyx was thinking, create a Hummel Award for the overall season MVP.

CDR said...

Taking COD's idea a step further, I made an online donation of $44 to the John Purdue Club with the request that it be used to contribute to a basketball scholarship to one who best exemplifies Robbie's qualities. It seemed to me a fitting way to honor Robbie and to play a small part in helping to recruit more like him.

Eric said...

I like what COD & CDR are suggesting. It would be pretty cool if an online drive could be organized in which people donate $4, $44, $444, or some # of 4's each and the sum total is used to fund a "Robbie Hummel #4" scholarship.

CalTravelGuy said...

Hopefully he'll get into coaching and we'll see him on the sidelines at Mackey in the future.

grant.jacob2 said...

I love the ideas of the Robbie Hummel #4 scholarship as well as the XXX burger honored after him, though I do agree Hummel shouldn't be the first to have his number retired. More importantly what are our chances of seeing Robbie in the NBA? Where do you think he'd stack up with this years class?

BoilerByBlood said...

The HummBurger would be a true honor for Rob at the XXX.

Hopefully, his number will eventually hang in the rafters at Mackey Arena. But until Purdue wins a National Championship, I don't feel "retiring" numbers should ever be a topic of discussion. Purdue has had many great players and teams over the years, but we still need to recruit some true blue chippers that can lead us to the promised land.

J_Moore said...

I really love Brad's idea of hanging his back brace, knee brace, and jersey in the locker room to serve as a reminder to future players. The fans will not soon forget Rob.

I would love to see Rob's number retired, but that opens a whole can of worms. We would have to retire all kinds of numbers for players like John Wooden, Rick Mount, and Glenn Robinson. I don't think we'll see anyone wear the #4 for quite some time. Not because the program won't allow it, but out of respect for Rob and the things he overcame and accomplished while wearing the number.

For me, and many other Boiler fans I'm sure, Robbie Hummel IS Purdue basketball. I am incredibly sad to see him go.

boxercr said...

Between Hummel, Johnson, and Moore, I always identified more with Hummel. It looks like many of you also identify more with Hummel. Why is that? I don't think it has to do with the most obvious difference between Hummel and the other two. But, don't you think Moore and Johnson will be affronted that Hummel gets some sort of memorial and they dont? Didn't JJ and Moore contribute just as much as Hummel?

phoenyx29 said...

boxercr: JJ and E'twaun are already hanging in the rafters of Mackey. And I always loved E'twaun...never complained, never talked trash, was literally 100% basketball business on the court. From Day 1 he was a major contributor to the team, and had very few slumps. He could always be counted on for a quick bucket or just to stabilize the team on the court. I loved his calm leadership. Honestly, he was the one I identified with the most.

grant.jacob2 said...

JaJuan Johnson also had a great story, it was show on BTN's the journey, great show. His mom drove a school, bus and worked in a cafeteria to support his family and also made sure she was always at his games. Also JaJuan Johnson worked so hard to get to where he was at Purdue, he spent all of his time in the gym improving his game. I really think Smooge, JJ and Rob all have become the benchmark for what a Purdue Boilermaker should be.