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Posted on Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Body fat, and camaraderie, high as ever at the fourth annual alumni flag football game

By Pete Cunningham


Alijah Bradley, right, eludes a tackler during Saturday's fourth annual alumni flag football game at Michigan Stadium. Bradley earned game MVP honors for the second consecutive year.

Melanie Maxwell |

Unlike Jim Harbaugh, former Michigan safety Cato June (1998-2002) never made any famous predictions during his playing days for the Wolverines. On hand for the fourth annual alumni flag football game Saturday, June tried his hand at prognostication.

“I’m predicting three hamstrings, two ankle sprains — one high, one low — 17 jammed fingers and two (players) needing high blood pressure pills when they get through,” June joked. “Schmidty gonna be busy in a minute.”


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Athletic trainer Paul Schmidt did end up being a little busy as a few former players, not quite at their playing weight, had to be carted off the field after suffering injuries.

“When you go from the La-Z-Boy chair to Michigan Stadium, it’s a bit of an adjustment,” said former end Jim Conley (1961-64), who managed to stay off the training table despite one ill-advised dive.

Conley blamed his dive, and the plays that led to other former players getting hurt, on the adrenaline rush that comes with coming out on the field, even after decades away from the game.

“You come down that tunnel, and the blood starts flowing and people react a certain way. They don’t realize the limit of their bodies,” Conley said.

Former All-America defensive lineman Mark Messner (1985-88) was well aware of his limitations and stayed far from the field. He said he had no business being there for fear of injury. Messner said the alumni gathered Friday night at an event put on by Michigan coach Brady Hoke.

Following the gathering, Messner and some other former players made their way to to another place they probably had no business being.

“We even went out to Rick’s (American Cafe),” Messner said before former teammate David Dever (1984-88) interrupted him. “Don’t tell him that,” Dever said.

“It’s OK, We’re allowed to now,” Messner said of the popular student night spot. “Each guy was toasting each other, and every story would start with ‘remember when.’ ”

While speed was down and body fat up for most players, one thing still strong as ever was the camaraderie of the players from seven decades of Michigan football.

“I was here during Lloyd’s run, and I didn’t get to meet a lot of (Bo) Schembechler guys. Now, I’m here, and I get to meet them and some Bump Elliott guys,” former kicker Phil Brabbs (1999-2003) said. “You share stories with the guys from different generations; it’s great.”


Former Michigan quarterback John Wangler, left, speaks with Michigan football commentator Frank Beckmann during Saturday's alumni flag football game.

Melanie Maxwell |

An actual game also was played. Just as he did in winning the most valuable player award in last year’s game, the slight yet speedy Alijah Bradley (2003-06) dazzled, with former quarterback John Wangler (1976-80) feeding him the passes.

“It’s like throwing to a young Anthony Carter,” Wangler said after the game.

Wangler said the best part of the game, and Friday’s alumni event, were players young and old coming together to support the program and each other.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. Michigan’s a special place; it always has been, always will be,” Wangler said. “We were laughing and telling lies; there’s nothing better.”

The alumni game’s master of ceremonies, Jim Brandstatter (1969-71), used audience applause to determine who would go home with the large and ostentatious MVP trophy. The fans were split, so Bradley and Wangler shared the honor.

Despite the fact that Bradley has probably had more yards in alumni games than he ever did when he actually played (91) for the Wolverines, he ended up getting a much larger cheer from the crowd than Wangler when he announced to the crowd that he would soon be graduating from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Bradley said he's undecided if he’ll display his MVP trophy in his office one day.

“Maybe. I need some place to put it,” Bradley said with a laugh. “(The office)’ll have to have vaulted ceilings.”

Contact Pete Cunningham at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

Looks like a good time was had by all. Though I couldn't make it to the stadium, I did get to see the BTN coverage and they made the whole morning leading up to the scrimmage about Michigan. They broadcast "classic" Michigan games and featured Bo Schembechler in their "Big Ten Icons" series. Keith Jackson was the narrator for some of this - oh, what a treat that guy is. I even enjoyed watching my first-ever lacrosse game (though Michigan lost to OSU). Scientists keep trying to pin down what distinguishes our species from other species. It's simple! Camels, elephants, chimpanzees and dolphins DON'T HAVE Michigan Football!!

Steve McQueen

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 11:11 a.m.

BTW will AC play in next years game? what is he up to these days....hopefully over the tough times he reportedly had

Steve McQueen

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

wow some of these guys who sat out for fear of injury are only a few years older than myself...and Id be out there running around with no problems...get in the gym guys....especially the guys in the 30s and 40s...heck there were guys in their 70s runnin around so age is no excuse.... lol.. anyway its a fun game for charity.

Terry Star21

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

Great to see the heroes from yesteryear that help Michigan be the Nations best.

just a voice

Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

more pictures! photo gallery please!


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.


Steve McQueen

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 11:14 a.m.

hey dan....why not get a bunch of your sparty old timers together and play Michigan old timers next year... then again....those old guys in green may not want to show up and lose to Michigan...just like they have in 3 out of every 4 games historically in the one sided rivalry. eh?

Terry Star21

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

I see sparty, in my rear view mirror with a plaid dress trying hard to catch us, always playing catch-up, but never getting ahead like 67 of the last 99 tries.


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

Bubba has left the Planet..