Object: Shoe

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I-0575a
Shoe
Nike, Inc.
American
Made in China
1990s-2000s
Materials: Leather, Thread

The most popular sport in the United States is American football, with professional football and college football the most popular forms of the game. The first game of American football was played on November 6, 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton. However, the game played back then looked completely different from what fans today are used to. The first game consisted of 25 players with a round ball and could only kick the ball, not touch it with their hands. Rutgers won the game  with a score of 6-4.  The sport is thought to have evolved from rugby and soccer, blending and modifying the rules of both. This object is a pair of football cleat shoes belonging to Dat Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American to be drafted into the NFL and be recognized as an All-Pro.

Early football game between Harvard and McGill.

Early football game between Harvard and McGill.

Dat Nguyen was born in Arkansas in a refugee center. His family had fled South Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War. His family then moved to the small fishing town of Rockport-Fulton on the Texas gulf coast. While in High School Nguyen played football as a middle linebacker. He earned honors as a punter and was recruited by Michigan, UCLA, Notre Dame, Texas and Florida. However, Nguyen decided to stay close to his home town and attended Texas A&M University. Nguyen played on the Aggie football team from 1995-1998. Throughout his football career he was always thought to be too small to play the position of linebacker. However, he proved his critics wrong and excelled. He received multiple awards including the Bednarik Award and Lombardi Award. Nguyen is known as one of the greatest defensive players in the Texas A&M history and was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.

Dat Nguyen #59 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates during a game. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Dat Nguyen #59 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates during a game. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In 1999 after a successful college career Nguyen was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round. The Dallas Cowboys are one of two NFL teams in Texas, and is regarded as the most valuable team in the world, worth 4 billion dollars. The Dallas Cowboys got their start in the 1960s. Over the years the team’s name has changed from the Dallas Steers to the Dallas Rangers and eventually the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys had a rough start their first season but eventually improved and got their first taste of success in 1965. The Cowboys continued to improve and made several Super Bowl appearances. While with the Cowboys, Nguyen excelled and became a starting middle linebacker. However, while with the Cowboys Nguyen sustained several different injuries and played on and off. He eventually retired in 2006 leading the team in tackles in the years 2001, 2003, and 2004.

Following his career as an NFL player Nguyen became an assistant coach for the Cowboys and remained there until 2010. Nguyen then went back to his alma mater and became an inside linebacker coach. Nguyen left A&M in 2011 after a successful season. Today Dat Nguyen can be found as a co-host of The Blitz with Jason Minnix. To keep up with Nguyen he can be found on twitter @dat959. [Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Sources:

Nguyen, Dat, and Rusty Burson. Dat Tackling Life and the NFL. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2005.

Professional Football Researchers Association

Watterson, John Sayle. College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Weyand, Alexander M., and Parke H. Davis. American Football, Its History and Development. New York: D. Appleton, 1926.

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