IOWA CITY, Ia. – Hayden Fry was holding court in the Kinnick Stadium press box Saturday morning. His sense of humor was intact.
“I’m still on the right side of the grass,” joked Fry, 85, who turned Iowa football from a laughing stock to a Top 20 program in his 20 seasons as coach from 1979-1998.
Fry even pulled out some of his favorite sayings.
“I’ve been shot at and hit a few times,” Fry said. “I still scratch where it itches. And it itches quite a bit.”
Fry has fought bladder cancer for years, going to a clinic in Phoenix, Ariz., and University of Iowa Hospitals several times a year. He said he’s a guinea pig for a new serum that’s being used to treat his type of cancer. He said he’s been given a clean bill of health.
“My doctor said, ‘You’ve been in the Marine Corps, you played football, your body is in good shape. You can probably make it another five years’,” Fry said. “That was 16 years ago.
“I’ve had nine operations, so I’m always rehabbing. I got a paper route so I could ride the bike.”
Fry said he’s low on energy, and airports are the worst.
“I’m just too damn weak,” Fry said. “I don’t have any energy. But I’m very lucky. Going through the airport is a big deal. Everyone wants a picture or a signature. But there’s nobody like Iowa fans. The most loyal, best people in the world.”
Fry did get a kick out of the fact that the visitor’s pink locker room was the source of more protests over the weekend.
“Everyone thought it was because I had my Masters in psychology, and pink was a cool, calm color and this and that, which it was to me,” Fry said. “But when I got here things were so deteriorated and down. Howard Cissell, my defensive ends and linebacker coach, he was in charge of helping me fix up things. The only color of paint they could find was pink.”
Fry chuckles at the reaction the pink locker room got, and still gets.
“(Former Michigan coach) Bo Schembechler and that bunch, they went bananas,” Fry said. “They’d send managers downtown to get white butcher paper, and spent all morning putting the paper up so all the players wouldn’t see (the pink walls).”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football