At Nebraska, Dave Humm (12) kept the defense honest with a rare run.
By Randy York
Dave Humm celebrated birthday No. 61 today with something he never dreamed he would ever touch, let alone own – an honorary Blackshirt, the symbolic Nebraska defensive jersey that is pulled over the heads and onto the shoulders of physically and mentally tough athletes who share a pledge to make teams earn every yard and every touchdown.
As a record-setting quarterback in Tom Osborne’s first two years as Nebraska’s head coach, Humm more than meets the minimum standard for overall toughness. He’s faced a third-and-long situation for nearly a quarter century now and is still fighting for his life.
Because of multiple sclerosis, Humm has been in a wheelchair for nearly 25 years. He hasn’t been able to use his legs for nearly 16 years. He’s in dire need of 24-hour care, but never once has he complained, and even though he can’t shower or shave by himself, he thinks he’s the luckiest man on the face of the earth because he has a daughter who loves him dearly and former Huskers who see his soul and his spirit not in muscles, but in the daily toughness he shows to embrace what he has.
Humm Has Battled MS for More Than 24 Years
“Hummer has gone through more in 24 years than any of the rest of us has gone through in 24 hours,” John Melton said Tuesday night from Nebraska City. “Dave Humm deserves that honorary Blackshirt because he’s tougher than any Blackshirt has ever had to be. Everything is great to him. I talk to him all the time, and if you didn’t know he had MS, you wouldn’t even know he was sick.”
A linebacker coach under the legendary Bob Devaney, Melton recruited Humm from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, beating out Alabama, among others, even though Bear Bryant and Joe Namath both went to Vegas to promote what life would be like with the Crimson Tide. Humm became an All-America quarterback at Nebraska and went on to play nine years for the Oakland Raiders. “David tells me he loves me every time we end our conversation, and I tell him I love him, too,” Melton said. “Only God knows how much I love that guy.”
Jerry Murtaugh can say the same thing because Nebraska’s once all-time leading tackler had to get tough with a tough-minded man. He had to tell Humm how much Husker players and fans loved him. He had to remind him that he’s part of a family that’s one of the biggest in the world. He had to let him know that he’s put together an organization where athletes help other athletes … a group that has Tom Osborne’s blessing and the same kind of loyalty that helps everyone understand why there is no place like Nebraska.
Three Huskers, Humm’s Daughter Present Honor
“We had three players at Hummer’s house today to present him his honorary Blackshirt,” Murtaugh said-. “Rich Sanger, Doug Johnson and Tom Humm (Dave’s brother) were in Las Vegas for the Blackshirt ceremony. So was Dave’s lovely daughter, who is always there for him every day.”
“I am so proud of Hummer,” said Murtaugh, an All-America linebacker and Big Eight Player of the Year who once made 25 tackles in a 21-21 tie against USC in Nebraska’s 1970 national championship season. Murtaugh is president of the Omaha-based Husker Greats Foundation, which helps Husker athletes, Humm, the Hollywood handsome Husker with a rocket left arm, was the foundation’s first major benefactor..
“I’ve known Dave Humm for a long time, and he has the biggest heart, the most determination and the greatest love of life and love for a daughter that I’ve ever known,” Murtaugh said. “When the idea of giving him a Blackshirt first came up, I was a little skeptical because I know David so well. I worried that he might protest when he saw his #12 and his name on a Blackshirt.”
Murtaugh Has Never Looked Up More to a Man
But guess what? Only a few good men can fathom such an honor, and fortunately, Dave Humm is one of them. “He is quite a man, and he proved it again accepting this jersey,” Murtaugh said. “I have never looked up to Hummer more than I did today when he honored our honor. Dave and I have had our battles for pride, but we both love the same things, and I don’t know anyone who deserves a Blackshirt more than he does. He is quite a man, that Dave Humm … quite a man.”
Murtaugh would not cut the conversation short until he explained another important contributor to Tuesday’s amazing ceremony. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Jeff Jamrog,” Murtaugh said of Nebraska’s assistant athletic director for football operations. “When I told Jammer what I needed, he didn’t ask when, why or what. He just jumped all over getting an authentic Blackshirt jersey with a #12 on it. Jeff Jamrog knows what Nebraska football is all about, and coming from an old guy, I can’t tell you how important that is.”
The Blackshirt put another smile on Humm, whose continuous smile conceals a toughness that is almost frightening.
All-American Quarterback, Honorary Blackshirt
New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady once said: “Every quarterback can throw a ball; every running back can run; every receiver is fast, but that mental toughness that you talk about is what translates into competitiveness.”
In Dave Humm’s case, mental toughness goes beyond competitiveness and becomes synonymous with love – from the past, the present and the future. Happy Birthday Hummer, All-American quarterback and Honorary Blackshirt. Display that jersey proudly because you’ve earned every thread in it.
P.S. Murtaugh said a golf tournament at the Revere Golf Club in South Las Vegas on June 17 “will be the social event of the season” and will benefit the Humm family. Murtaugh said interested supporters should call 1-866-791-7626 to reserve a spot in the tournament with a one-night room charge to your credit card. “We want this to be a big success,” Murtaugh said, adding that interested supporters can email Margie Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. Prospective participants also can reach Rich Sanger at email@example.com or by calling 303-888-2408.
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