With the little matter of Superbowl 50 just around the corner, and seeking to prove that there really is a Basque history of the world* or “six degrees (or less) of Basque,”** it wasn’t too difficult to come up with a Basque-themed post to coincide with this weekend’s big game. Welcome to the life and times of John Huarte, “that bounding Basque from sunny California,” according to Joe Doyle’s article here.

Huarte was born in 1944 in Anaheim, CA, where his Basque family ran a citrus farm. His father, Joseph, had played some pro baseball in the 1920s, but John gravitated toward the gridiron instead. He played college football for Notre Dame, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and is best remembered for winning the Heisman Trophy in 1964, somewhat against all odds as explained here.

Huarte later turned pro. A second-round draft selection for the New York Jets in 1965, he subsequently moved on to Boston, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Kansas City, and Chicago in the NFL, and enjoyed two more years with Memphis in the WFL prior to retiring in 1975. He then began his own highly-successful tile business, Arizona Tile, that specialized in tile, marble, and granite countertops, and became the largest importer of granite in North America.

In 2005, John was deservedly inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame.

*Just in case some you don’t know, I’m referring here to Mark Kurlansky’s great The Basque History of the World (see here).

**The six degrees of separation (or Kevin Bacon) theory.