Day 88: Ed Backus
Movies like "Taxi Driver" made NYC look good in 1976... NOT!
For a short, shining moment in the mid 1970's, it looked like the Columbia football team was going to make a return to respectability.
Under popular young Head Coach Bill Campbell, the team made some modest strides in 1974 and 1975, then things seemed to fall into place in the 1976 season, thanks to some heroics to star senior safety Ed Backus '77.
After stumbling out of the gate with a 34-10 loss to Harvard, the Lions got their first win of '76 with a 38-31 win over Lafayette at home thanks to two interception returns for TD's by Backus.
A week later, Columbia went down to Franklin Field and eked out a 14-10 win, thanks in no small part to Backus' excellent work against the pass.
Sadly, the Lions anemic offense was finally exposed in the ensuing weeks and Columbia only won one more game all season.
But Backus, who had been a second team All Ivy honoree in '75, stood out enough to grab 1st Team honors his final year.
He was also a star baseball player for the blue and white, batting .368 his junior year and pitching the Ivy League championship clinching victory over Penn.
As a sophomore, Backus made headlines in the New York Times when he was mugged on campus, and the Times decided to use this as an example of how Morningside Heights was extremely dangerous, (and back then, it kind of was... A LOT has changed). But Backus ended up mugging a lot of opposing players with big interceptions and rough tackles in his varsity career. He was inducted as member of Columbia's football team of the century in 2000.
After graduation Backus dived into the business world, eventually becoming an Eastern Division GM at Pepsi. He currently is the president of EMP Management where he provides consulting services in sales, marketing and strategic planning for restaurant and consumer product companies.
During some tough times for New York City and Columbia football, Ed Backus was a definite bright spot.