The first thing you should know about Tom Reynolds, the ex-Notre Dame linebacker who paid for the infamous Charlie Weis billboard, is that he is not afraid to bare his soul for something he believes in. Or bare his tallywhacker, for that matter.
Reynolds, author of the above message that has all of South Bend talking this week, is also kind of famous for another incident. In June of 2007 he interrupted a violent robbery in a Manhattan hotel hallway, clobbering and chasing away a woman’s attacker while completely naked.
“I wish I could have done more,” Tom Reynolds told the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. “But I thought if I chased him, I’d get arrested for indecent exposure.”
Of course that isn’t Reynolds in the photo above — wouldn’t it be great if it was? — but you get the idea. The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS article lists Reynolds as a retired University of Texas marketing professor. Aged 60 at the time of the incident, and having just had a knee replaced, he was in Manhattan for a conference.
But you know him better as the guy who paid to have a billboard message critical of Coach Weis installed just around the corner from the Notre Dame football offices. Hilarity did not ensue. In fact, Burkhart Advertising took down the message only three days into a 12-week contract. In its place late Thursday was a message promoting the U.S. Marine Corps.
Reynolds said he met with Burkhart officials Thursday morning and that they encouraged him to volunteer to take the billboard down.
“I told them I’d think about it,” Reynolds told the SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE. “But before I had a chance to think about it, they called me back and told me they were taking it down. I can tell you the university is behind this. And it’s hypocritical. It was a light-hearted message. The university should be bigger than that.”
“I’m not a real public guy by nature,” he said. “I’ve turned down 11 radio shows in the past two days. The only reason I called (the TRIBUNE) was because my rights were violated.”
But as far as looking into legal avenues?
“All I’ll say,” Reynolds said, “is this isn’t the end of this.”
But that’s the American way, Tom. Legally express your opinion about a community’s beloved football franchise, and when said community throws a fit about it, watch as the company you contracted with wilts under the glare of the bad publicity. It looks like Burkhardt advertising stands us just about as well against intense pressure as the Fighting Irish offensive line.