Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Hadl a quiet closer


Closers come in all different personality types. The quintessential Type-A closer portrayed by Alec Baldwin in an unforgettable way in the 1992 film “Glengarry Glen Ross” drives a fancy car and wears expensive threads.

And then there is the unassuming, quietly confident closer who gets the job done without calling attention to himself. Mariano Rivera comes to mind.

The Kansas University athletic department’s stealth closer falls into the latter category. Everybody knows his name because once upon a time he had such a great game. Yet, the last person on earth who’s going to make a fuss over John Hadl is John Hadl. That’s what makes Hadl an ideal fit for asking for the order from prominent businessmen who have an affection for KU.

Heavy hitters who have enough spare cash to help out their university of choice don’t become heavy hitters by deferring to anyone. Generally, they enjoy having everyone’s attention trained on them. As regular a big-name sports star as has ever walked the planet, Hadl doesn’t need to be the center of attention. Plus, his passion for all things KU sports runs deep. He sells a product he not only believes in, but loves. That comes through to every audience he has, and he never has to state it.

Hadl’s name opened the door for him to have a meeting with Tom Kivisto, who donated $10 million toward the building of the football complex. Hadl’s smooth style in asking for the mind-blowing figure closed the deal. Hadl knew the donation was needed to construct a complex that would benefit his beloved football program, so he didn’t show nerves in asking for the order. He showed confidence.

Hadl has enjoyed similar success with other families — Anderson, Booth, Hoglund, Ward, to name a few — generous with gifts to KU athletics.

Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins has seen Hadl work fundraising miracles for him, so now he has brought back another KU legend, one with an even bigger name than Hadl’s. Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, one of the top five running backs of all-time — along with Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders — is moving to Lawrence to raise money for the athletic department.

Sayers’ first assignment hasn’t been announced yet, but it doesn’t take much to connect the dots to realize he will be hitting up big donors for help with renovations to the east side of Memorial Stadium, probably some sort of posh gathering place for big donors.

This is somewhat new territory for Sayers, who in the past has done more to promote his alma mater’s School of Education than the athletic department, although he once was an assistant AD.

Sayers’ name will open many doors. Who wouldn’t want to meet one of the top five running backs of all-time? But it will take more than a name for him to gain huge pledges. It will take the skill to ask for the order and close the deal.

Asking for money isn’t as easy as Hadl makes it look. If Sayers enjoys doing it, he’ll be good at it. If it’s not his thing, he’ll find other ways to use his name to help his university. Either way, it’ll be nice having him in Lawrence.


esteshawk 10 years, 7 months ago

I'm "this much" too young to have seen Sayers play, but watching the film clips over the years - dang, the dude was poetry in motion. And always carries himself with class.

In thinking about it, Lawrence has been the home to one of the top five basketball players ever (and the most dominant offensive force ever in Wilt), one of the top running backs (sayers), one of the best milers (ryun), the best shotputter (oerter), one of the best 10,000 meters' (billy mills - still the only American to win gold), and if I am correct, Jim Thorpe spent time at Haskell. Impressive, and very cool. And this list is incomplete . . .

yates33333 10 years, 7 months ago

The good thing about John is that he hasn't changed a great deal over the years. He was an unassuming student and a great football player. One of the best college kickers I have ever seen.

Clarence Haynes 10 years, 7 months ago

The operative words for Gale Sayers were smooth and elusive, and most important, he has been a person of great character!

100 10 years, 7 months ago

Breaking his stats down year by year in the NFL, a few years ago a group of CBS announcers declared Gale to be hands down the best running back ever. OJ, Walter & Jim Brown couldn't hold a candle to Gale's numbers, although he did have the shortest career which is probably why nationally he's usually only considered on the top 5 list.

As for Wilt, there's no comparison -- he was the best ever -- take a look at his NBA stats (and keep in mind blocks weren't kept and many who played with him said he averaged 10 a game).

Michael Jordan (who always had a superior team) was incredible to watch & was an incredible player, and had 6 rings. But realistically he had a great team & coach to run the triangle offense.

Wilt never got to play on Boston & he only got to play on LA late in his career. The point is, by the measuring stick (stats), he blows everybody out of the water in many years his averages by twofold (aka 50 pts, 20 rbs, 10 assists, "10 blocks")

Looked at this way Michael Jordan, as great as he was, isn't even in the same league as Wilt.

Blake Post 10 years, 7 months ago

I saw Gale Sayers play with the Bears. He was greased lightning and could change direction amazingly. Love those guys who make everyone else look like they are in slow motion. Hadl, Manning and Sayers are in Lawrence. I can't even describe that! I have autographs from Ray Evans, Otto Schnellbacher, Charlie Hoag, Gale Sayers, Wilt Chamberlain, Bobby Douglas, Danny Manning and Lynette Woodard. Awesome

100 10 years, 7 months ago


Great collection. On three separate game pamphlets, I have autographs of Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Endacott & Dr. Naismith. My dad got Paul & Naismith's a couple decades before I was born.

I usually could care less about autographs but I wouldn't sell these for anything.

Kman_blue 10 years, 7 months ago


You are correct, Jim Thorpe came up from his boyhood home in Oklahoma to Haskell for a year before he then went off to Pennsylvania and athletic immortality. If anyone here has visited the football message board they know I feel Sayers is the best football player of all time, but Thorpe is my #2 and was well before I knew he lived in Lawrence for a year. Most people don't realize Thorpe was voted the #1 athlete of the first half of the 20th century in 1951 by the AP. But as time goes by he gets less respect and the same AP in 1999 voted him #3 male athlete of the century behind Babe Ruth(who wasn't even close to Thorpe in the 1951 vote) and Ali(1 sport athlete vs. Thorpe being a world class 3 sport athlete and 4 if you count ball room dancing, which he won the collegiate championship the 1 year he decided to compete!). So, it is amazing 2 of the best ever and my personal top 2 both have lived and played football in Lawrence. Quite amazing and extremely cool. I'm excited about Sayers moving back, not just because he was a KU great football player, but also because he's just a great guy and can be nothing but a positive for the community.

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