Football Hats Make Statement, Show Support
Harvard football’s Week 3 contest at Lehigh offered more surprises than one often sees on any given Saturday.
A Lehigh student pulled an Ashlee Simpson on the national anthem, the Crimson went with its third-string running back—senior Cheng Ho—who had a banner day, and Harvard coach Tim Murphy traded in his signature black baseball hat for a camouflage cap with an “H” on the front and the defense’s motto “Do Work”—from the MTV reality show “Rob and Big”—on the back.
“It’s a combination of things,” Murphy says of his new headwear. “Solidarity with our players who are in the military and heading into harm’s way, and kind of the work ethic and culture that those elite military teams have, and the blue-collar thing—all those things together.”
The hats, which were made possible by sophomore defensive tackle Matt Lunati’s father Pete, were originally intended for the members of the defensive unit who made it in for a snap. According to captain Carl Ehrlich, it provided ample motivation for the guys who weren’t seeing time on defense.
“Everyone wanted a hat,” Ehrlich says, adding that junior fullback Anthony Rotio vowed to steal the hat from his roommate, junior tackle David Sklar.
But soon the hats were opened up to everyone on the team—though the camo style changed and the message on the back was now a unified “Harvard Football.”
“The locker room was littered with them,” Ehrlich says.
“I loved the idea of the hats,” says freshman wide receiver Mitch Ross. “Coach Murphy says we want to be representing the community in both blue collar and white collar.”
All season long, Murphy stressed the blue-collar mentality.
“We always talk about having this blue-collar type of work ethic, which doesn’t necessarily mean that your mom or dad was a carpenter or a plumber,” Murphy says. “But it’s realizing that you need a great work ethic to succeed at Harvard, on and off the field.”
And for Ross especially, the significance of the camouflage is personal.
His father Warner, a three-year letterwinner as a center at Ole Miss in his day, now serves overseas as a Major in the National Guard and will be up for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel in January.
“Not only [do the hats represent] the hard work we put in as a team, but also what the military does as a team,” Ross says. “It’s one big team, one big family.”
The elder Ross actually received a hat earlier in the season—before Mitch got his.
“When my dad came to visit before he was deployed overseas, our captain gave him one,” Ross admits. “I was pretty jealous.”