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Virginia football’s 106 year old statistician profiled in New York Times

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John Risher has kept Hoos’ stats for more than 50 years

NCAA Football: Louisville at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There was no Virginia football played in 1918. There was a war on, and able-bodied young men had actual fighting to do, in actual trenches.

But the Hoos took the field again in 1919. John Risher was there to watch them: a nine-year-old boy who lived with his mother in an apartment near Grounds.

Ninety-seven years later—after fighting in a war himself; after meeting, marrying, and spending six decades with his late wife—John Risher still watches Virginia football.

A moving, touching New York Times profile hit newsstands today. Most fans, myself included, probably hadn’t really paid attention when John Risher’s name has come up before: when he got a shout-out from Coach Mendenhall at the coach’s introductory press conference, or when he was recognized as Virginia’s oldest living football alumnus before the Richmond game.

Now, though? I’ve got my superhero.

Tom Perls, a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine who is an expert on people who live unusually long lives, upon learning about Risher, said that he “very much is fitting the mold” of an eventual super-centenarian — those who live to be 110 or older.

Perls, who has interviewed over 2,000 centenarians across the world, called Risher “the oldest driver I’ve ever heard of.” And he described Risher — a man who has reached 106 — as “easily one in a million.”

Until Risher shows signs of memory impairment or illness — neither of which appears to be happening — he is, Perls said, “virtually immortal.”

The century in his rearview mirror hasn't slowed Risher’s wit, either.

“I’m deaf as a post,” Risher recently said, “but I can see 20/20 with these glasses, and I still look at the girls. They don’t look at me, though. That’s the problem.”

Take a few minutes to read the whole piece. It’s a nice shot in the arm to set your week off on the right foot.