Retired #22 -- Joe Dudek
"Uniform Retirement Ceremony - Oct. 14, 1989"
The "retirement" of a uniform number in honor of its wearer is perhaps the highest honor an institution can bestow upon one of its own. It is seldom done on the university level. It has never been done at Plymouth State College.
However, when an individual's athletic achievements transcend all others in an overwhelming fashion, unique recognition is not only appropriate, but it is expected. And if ever there was a college student-athlete whose athletic exploits transcended all others, then it was Joe Dudek-old number 22.
Number 22 was just another number on Sept. 11, 1982, when Joe Dudek played his first game for Plymouth State College, here at Currier Field against powerful Norwich University. But when that day ended, Panther fans knew that number 22 was special, as Joe scored four touchdowns to lead PSC to a milestone 53-14 victory over Norwich.
That number 22 was indeed special became apparent to the whole country on Oct. 26, 1985, when Joe scored five touchdowns in a 35-15 victory over Bridgewater State, breaking Walter Payton's touchdown scoring record. Joe would finish his career with 79 touchdowns, more than any other player who ever played college football. He set untold New England and national rushing records, most of which still stand. He finished among leaders in the 1985 Heisman Trophy balloting, an absolutely unprecedented achievement for a Division III performer, who was paying his own way to go to college. He was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, as well as on several national television programs. Joe would go on to win an NFL contract with the Denver Broncos, and would receive two Super Bowl checks for his efforts.
Joe Dudek's exploits served to focus national attention on Plymouth State, and that attention served to make many people aware of all that PSC had to offer, beyond athletics. People liked what they saw, and the number of admissions applications to Plymouth soared. Indeed, not only PSC football, but the University itself, the state of New Hampshire, and small university football in general significantly benefited from the exploits of Joe Dudek.
Since returning to New Hampshire, Joe has continued with his studies, and has also gone out of his way to help several initiatives designed to advance the interests of Plymouth State College. Not only was Joe a once-in-a-lifetime performer, but he remains a gracious, quality individual.
So at this time, would you direct your attention to midfield, where Plymouth State College President William J. Farrell will formally present Joe Dudek with his old #22-which will never again be worn by a Panther football player.