Such an individual was the late Pat Brady, who died here just a few months short of his 83rd birthday.
Brady’s football prowess will forever be remembered at UNR for the spectacular punt he delivered in the homecoming game against Loyola at the old Mackay Stadium on Oct. 28, 1950. After a goal-line stand against Loyola that gave Nevada the ball just inches from their own goal line, Brady, who was quarterback as well as punter, lined up in coach Joe Sheeketski’s T formation and quickly dropped back for the most famous “quick kick” in NCAA history. The ball sailed off Brady’s left foot and spiraled high and long, some 70 yards, it hit the uneven turf of old Mackay and took on a life of its own, bounding and rolling along until it stopped some two feet short of the Loyola goal line — an amazing 99-yarder! The kick may some day be tied for distance, but it can never be surpassed. To date, no tie has been recorded. The feat gained Brady a place on the school’s “team of the century” and led to a full-page story on his exploit in the coffee table book entitled “Legacy, 100 years of Athletics at the University of Nevada” that was published by the U’s athletic department in 1998.
Brady’s next major stop on the gridiron was with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he also played quarterback and punter and where he led the NFL in punting for two of his three years with the Steelers, before an Achilles tendon injury cut his pro career short.
Despite having been well-traveled up to and during his pro football career, when it came to picking a spot to set down his roots, Brady chose Reno.
While I had seen him perform on the greensward for Nevada a couple of times, I never got to know him personally on campus.
The next time I saw him, he was appearing in a professional exhibition game with the Steelers in Sacramento. I don’t recall who the opponent was, probably the San Francisco 49ers. At that time, I was doing coverage for the athletic teams at the original Manogue High School on Boynton Lane. The year Brady appeared in Sacramento, the Manogue Miners had a stellar high school football player in Tom Knezevich. One of the youngster’s better talents was that he was an outstanding punter. Somehow, through the good offices of Father Maurice Welsh (Manogue assistant coach to Duke Drakulich) and the Rooney family that owned the Steelers, a clever match-up between Brady and Knezevich was set up for half time of the Sacramento contest.
Numerous members of the press from this area made the trip down to the game to watch the heroics, and to his credit, Brady kept the contest close but easily won.
A few years later, I walked into the Reno Print company on Center Street, which was my printer of choice. I was surprised to see Brady behind the counter, but I learned that the big, likeable Irishman had married Odile Frost, the daughter of Reno Print owner, Harry Frost.
Over the years, I became good friends with Pat as the handled many of my printing orders. I especially remember the raft of printing we had to turn out during the staging of the Mapes Hotel Invitational Golf Tournaments. Some of the work could only be done in the evenings as we gathered the scores from the day’s play and worked out the pairings for the following day. On one occasion, when things were running extra late, Brady and I spent the early evening hours in the Coach Room restaurant of the hotel, enjoying a fine meal and several cocktails.
Late in the evening, we made our way the short half-block to the printing company. Finishing off the large stack of paperwork, our final stop was in the poorly lit basement where the huge “cutter” resided. It was a big, guillotine-looking machine with a razor-sharp edge. Pat deftly set the papers on the machine, his thumbs inches away from where the blade crashed down and our work was complete.
“Pretty dangerous machine,” I noted.
Brady held his two hands up and said, “I’ve been doing this for years and still have all my fingers!”
Following his career at Reno Print, Brady went on to become state printer under Gov. Mike O’Callaghan and eventually moved into the casino field as part owner of the Bonanza Casino on North Virginia Street. He followed his father-in-law into working for many years on the Reno Rodeo then became a stalwart on the board of the National Championship Air Races. Whatever he undertook — business, volunteer work, managing his large ranch in southwest Reno, hunting, fishing or just having a good social time with his buddies — he did it all-out, with zest and fervor.
His funeral services were held on Monday with the incomparable Leo McFadden doing the church work at Our Lady of the Snows. At one point, the Monsignor donned a black Steelers cap but respectfully removed it during the sacred part of the Mass.
Following the church service and burial, a memorial was held in the neighborhood where he had lived and it began with a stirring video that showed the man — warts and all — followed by many hilarious remembrances by his numerous friends. One in particular, from Don Burke, a former San Francisco 49er, was about an occasion when he and Brady had both been in the hospital at the same time. Neither that story nor many of the others told should appear in this family paper.
Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.
Editor’s note: Harry Spencer’s column is sometimes a mix of reporting and opinion. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.