Michael Clare '01
Football | Class of 2016
Harvard Athletic Achievements
All-America first team (2000)
All-Ivy League first team (1999, 2000)
Three-year starter at left tackle
Team captain in 2000
Helped Harvard’s offense finish with a then school-record 4,679 total yards in 2000 and rank fifth in the nation at 467.9 yards per game
Remembering Harvard Athletics
First I want to thank the Varsity Club for this amazing and humbling honor. I am so proud to be representing Harvard Football surrounded by such amazing inductees, congratulations to you all. Every day I am thankful for the opportunity to attend Harvard and play football for such a storied institution.
There are a million things going through my head when I sit down to write a piece titled “Remembering Harvard Athletics”. To me Harvard athletics is much more than just football. It is comprised of the amazing people that I was privileged to call teammates, friends, trainers, coaches, etc. If you ask anyone who played the game of football if they miss it, there will be a mixed bag of answers, with one underlying thread in them all. I miss the guys, the locker room, the training room, meals after running groups and so on.
My first real memory of Harvard athletics is of visiting as a junior in high school during a summer recruit weekend, meeting Coach Flynn, and walking the campus with him and my family. We felt at home, and he made me feel like Harvard wanted me and I wanted to be part of such a great program. Coach Harriman coming to my basketball games in high school to check in on me, always respectful of my wishes to leave my family alone during the games. Other coaches would perch next to my mom and talk her ear off the entire game, but not Coach Harriman. He would wave to me during warmups from the doorway of the gym, and after the games we would give him our undivided attention because again I wanted to be part of a program with such amazing coaches. Memories of my recruit weekend come to me and how amazing it was to be hosted by Matt Birk. He really made the weekend fantastic for me and my father as did his roommates Colby Skelton and Jumbo Elliot. Jumbo took us to church that Sunday morning and then my dad and I walked down to the football offices for my sit down with Coach Murphy. I told Coach Murphy at this meeting that I wanted nothing more than to come play football for him, and that week I found out I was accepted and promptly canceled all remaining official visits.
You could not turn around in the athletic buildings without finding an amazing person. Guys like Chet Stone and Artie Clifford working in the equipment room. It was always such a great feeling to know that great guys like that would always go out of their way to get you anything you needed to succeed on the field. Walk down the hall from the locker room and you come to a training room that was filled with great banter, comradery and world class trainers. The highlight of the day was going to get your ankles taped before practice and get a few minutes of back and forth with Emmo, G and Brad. Emmo would be taping RD’s ankles and G would be taping mine and we would all be going back and forth. Mostly I would try to make RD laugh by asking him if he had kicked any elderly people or children on his walk down to practice. Moments and people like this are what I remember most about Harvard Athletics. Turn the other way out of the locker room and you find yourself in the coach’s offices or main lobby. And there sat the matriarch of the entire program, the glue that held it together, the one named deity that everyone in the program respected and loved, Barb.
Barb went out of her way to make all the players in the program feel loved and like they were part of a family away from home. I was fortunate enough to get a job in the football office working with Barb during the summers, some times during the school year, and it was some of the most fun I had while at Harvard. We would laugh when I had to give campus tours to recruits during the sweltering summer heat and I would sweat my face off. Oddly enough I would tailor the tour around all the buildings with air conditioning. Barb would marvel how I would show up to work and my lunch would be an unlabeled mystery tin can of something and we would laugh some more. Laughter and joy were always present in the office when working with Barb and for that I have so many lasting memories and love her dearly.
Being lucky enough to play football at Harvard means that you are guided by some of the best coaching talent on the planet. I would be remiss to not thank Coach Murphy for everything that he has done for me and my family. It is very easy to look at his illustrious record and career and see that he is a great coach, but Coach Murphy exceeds that exponentially as a man. I still live my life on “Murph Time” which is fifteen minutes before the scheduled start time. If you showed up on time, you were late. Only after you graduate can you truly appreciate what a great man Coach Murphy is, because prior to that you only know him as your coach. Since graduating Coach Murphy has truly become an even larger part of my family. My kids still talk about visiting him in his office and raiding his cache of Tootsie Pops. I can never really express how thankful and appreciative I am for Coach Murphy in my life, but accepting this honor is a testament to him as a mentor and coach. Coach Joe Philbin was our offensive line coach freshman and sophomore years. He is an unbelievably great coach and an even better man. Of course because of him I had sound mechanics and knew the playbook inside and out, but above and beyond that he made me a better man with one comment. “Character is what you do when people aren’t looking.” It is such a simple statement, but Coach Philbin said it to me when I was working out freshman year. It has stuck with me ever since and I mold my life around that tenet. Coach Stitt junior year was an another amazing coach along with Coach Capriotti. They both worked tirelessly with us on mechanics and I can still hear Coach Cap yelling his head off during running groups as we all lumbered over hurdles and speed ladders. Coach Turner came junior spring and somehow brought an already close offensive line unit closer. I still laugh to myself thinking back to Coach Turner and the Cornell game senior year. We had jumped out to a huge first half lead on them and then the doors fell off. We relinquished the lead in the fourth quarter and I can still see Coach Turner turning around to the offense sitting on the bench with a huge smile on his face and yells “Looks like we got a real sht storm on our hands boys.” He loved the action and close games and the excitement of it all, and because of that he made us love and appreciate the game even more. I could go on for hours on the coaches in the program, because they are all amazing. Getting to play against such great defensive coaches like Coach Hughes, Harriman, Anarumo, Weaver, Dunn, and Tall was an absolute honor. Playing with offensive coaches like Klunder, Flynn, Shea and Mills was also an honor and a heck of a lot of fun.
Obviously Coach Murphy weaves his way through this entire narrative. Coach Murphy is an amazing coach but beyond that he is an even better recruiter and judge of character. It is this ability that enabled me to be surrounded by some of the finest men a guy could call friends. Obviously I do not have enough time and or space to talk about each and every guy I played with and now consider a friend for life. That being said I am so thankful for my offensive line family. Without these guys there would be no Harvard football for me. I am so thankful for all the time spent with these guys on and off the field, like O-Line dinners at The Stockyard or Vinny Testa’s. Thank you Birk, Jumbo, Shreve, Garcia, Deaner, Willy Rat, Pop, Kaup, Eitz, Kujo, Conlon, Spoon, Spence, Kramer, Stak, Hove, Bobby Steve, Stark, Kistler, Weidle, Cooter, Mujo, Fratto, Jamil, Pricey, Lane-O and last but certainly not least Sammy “The Bull” Miller. Of course I am leaving guys off the list and for that I am sorry, it isn’t on purpose, but you have to realize I have taken A LOT of hits to the head.
There are so many things that I want to write about or that I could write about, but I am going to end with the most lasting and fondest memories of Harvard Athletics. They all center around my family. I am so thankful for my parents Tom and Kathie Clare and my brother Tom and everything they did for me while attending Harvard. When I think about Harvard I think about how I did Harvard with them. Going all the way back to the first day on campus when they were dropping me off at Claverly for freshman training camp. My mom left her sunglasses on in the elevator because she didn’t want me to see her crying. Working my way up to travel with the team by the end of freshman year and my parents never missing a game after that. Starting my first game sophomore year at Columbia and having so many hometown friends and family there from Rutherford. There was one thing that was constant for me and I always looked forward to. I knew that after a game, no matter where it was and win or lose, I could get cleaned up and go outside and get a hug from my mom and dad. Usually I could easily find them because they had Clare shirts, buttons and hats on. My brother would fly in from wherever he was, sometimes with friends in tow, and I would get to show them all around campus before game day. We always had so much fun, the team would come by my family tailgate and dad would cook hot dogs until everyone had come and gone and we would just sit around and talk and laugh. I am not sure if I have heard of any other families hiring a DJ for their tailgate like my folks did after my last Yale game. I am pretty sure we lost that game, but that really isn’t the memory I have from that day and I have my folks and family to thank for that. My parents did everything they could to ensure that I could go to Harvard and for that I am eternally thankful, but more importantly I am thankful that they were able to enjoy it with me every step of the way. Having children of my own I know what a sacrifice it was for them week in and week out and I can never repay them or thank them enough for making it all so special for me.
Harvard Football and Athletics are engrained in me and will be for the rest of my life. I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend Harvard and be part of something so special. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is such an honor and again I am thankful that I have my family, friends and coaches here to help me celebrate. I want to thank Coach Murphy again for deeming me worthy of such a humbling honor and Bob Glatz and the rest of the Varsity Club for making this dream induction a reality. Go Crimson!