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No Regrets: A Gridder With Only Fond Memories

FOOTBALL'S SPENCER NEUMANN

By Jay K. Varma, Crimson Staff writer

You might think that graduating Harvard football star Spencer Neumann would have more regrets than Richard Nixon.

Neumann never won an Ivy title, beat Yale as a starter or got a call to tryout for the pros. But ask the Kirkland senior about his carrer at Harvard and he's all smiles and good cheer.

"I am definitely satisfied with my time here." Neumann says. "I wouldn't trade them for the world."

Ironically enough, Neumann says that the best part about his Harvard football career is that it allowed him to pursue other opportunities as well.

"I would have been disappointed if football had been the only thing I experienced at Harvard," says the two-time All-Ivy defensive end. "I like to think that I got a good mix. I tried to branch out and do other things outside of football."

For Neumann, the two most important things were academics and his social life.

He refers fondly to the friendships he established with his roommates and recalls "random Monday or Tuesday nights talking to the wee hours of the night."

On other nights, Neumann bid goodbye to his social life to study. Judging by his academic accomplishments, there must have been many of those. The Ocean, N.J., native earned a 3.6 grade-point average in economics this year, which got him named a secondteam Academic All-American.

Maintaining that balance--between football, social life and academics--he says has never been easy, particularly in the late fall, when the Ivy league season kicks in.

"Unfortunately, it always works out that at the end of the football season, things seem to go crazy [academically]," Neumann says. "Going into the Yale game last year, everyone in the locker room was talking about exams and papers, and I think that carried over into the way we played. Our heads weren't in the game."

Despite that lapse against Yale, Neumann has distinguished himself over the years with his intensity and focus. Though he lacks the size and natural talent of some of his teammates and opponents, Neumann uses his quickness, knowledge of the game and concentration to do consistently what a defensive end must always do: stay in position.

Neumann recorded 55 tackles and eight sacks in 1990 as a member of one of the Crimson's best defensive units ever.

And this season the 6-ft. 2-in., 220-lbs. senior collected 53 tackles. Perhaps his finest performance came against Army, when the Crimson, a Division IAA team, held firm for three and a half quarters against its much stronger Division I-A opponent.

Neumann was also the player who knocked Army's star signal-caller, Willie McMillan, out of the game.

Neumann levelled McMillan in the knees early in the third quarter. he laid the Cadet out on the hard artificial turf and forced Army to use its secondstring quarterback for the remainder of the contest.

Though the Crimson still lost, 21-20, Neumann recalls that game fondly.

"It was one of the best feelings to be beating Army during that game. Even though we lost, we came off the field with a lot of pride," he says.

Neumann lights up when he recalls those few moments of football glory. Beating Yale in New Haven, Conn. his sophomore year (when he was not a starter). A fourth-and-goal stand in the Crimson's 5-3 victory over Dartmouth his junior year.

Of course, a few painful memories remain especially this year's loss at Cornell and the 31-31 tie against eventual Ivy champion Dartmouth.

"I've lost a lot of sleep during and after the season saying what if," Neumann concedes.

But characteristically, he downplays those recollections.

He's looking to the future. He will spend the next three years working for Disney in California.

And he's looking back. With no regrets. Well, almost none.

"I'd like to think that if I did it over again, And, pausing, he smiles and quips, "I would have liked a championship ring."

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