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June 22, 2013

Countdown to Labor Day: 72

The countdown to the start of the 2013 season is under way, as Pitt is 72 days away from its Labor Day opener against Florida State at Heinz Field. Panther-Lair.com is counting down the days until the biggest season opener in recent memory.

Today's number is 72, so we're looking at an All-American who became a dentist.

The 1917 Pitt Panthers were nicknamed "The Fighting Dentists" since, according to legend, half the roster went on to careers in dentistry. 45 years later, another dentist wore the Pitt uniform and drilled a legacy of his own.

No, we're not talking about Mike Ditka, who studied dentistry. We're talking about his teammate, tackle Ernie Borghetti.

Borghetti, who wore No. 72 from 1961-63 for Pitt, saw the Panthers go from a three-win team in 1961 to a 5-5 record in 1962 before rolling to a 9-1 record in 1963 (the infamous "No Bowl Team"). Borghetti and teammate Paul Martha earned All-America honors after that season, and Borghetti was selected in the 1964 NFL Draft.

Actually, he was selected twice.

At the time, the NFL and AFL had yet to merge, so teams from both leagues could participate - and select the same players - in the draft, As such, the Cleveland Browns of the NFL selected Borghetti in the sixth round of the draft; 15 rounds later, the Dallas Texans - who would move to Kansas City and rename themselves "the Chiefs" shortly after the draft - selected him.

Given the option, Borghetti opted to sign with Kansas City (formerly Dallas), but he suffered a knee injury during his first preseason and never played professionally. He retired from the game to attend dental school, ultimately setting up a practice in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio.

His All-America honors are one part of Borghetti's legacy at Pitt; the other is his son, E.J., who currently serves as Senior Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations.

Previous entries in the Countdown

Countdown: 73 - May Day
Countdown: 74 - A "groundwork" season
Countdown: 75 - A successful DL-to-OL move
Countdown: 76 - The 1976 national championship
Countdown: 77 - The last three-sport athletes
Countdown: 78 - An underrated pro
Countdown: 79 - One of the best
Countdown: 80 - The greatest non-championship team in Pitt history
Countdown: 81 - A crushing end to a great season
Countdown: 82 - The dawn of the Foge Era
Countdown: 83 - The most accurate kicker in Pitt history
Countdown: 84 - Pitt in the Pro Bowl
Countdown: 85 - A play that will never be matched
Countdown: 86 - A long but unfulfilled play
Countdown: 87 - The final year of Ironhead
Countdown: 88 - Pitt's All-American tradition
Countdown: 89 - Iron Mike
Countdown: 90 - The four 9-0's
Countdown: 91 - The two longest plays in Pitt history
Countdown: 92 - The senior year of the most productive QB in Pitt history
Countdown: 93 - The only 9-3 season in Pitt history
Countdown: 94 - The statistical oddity of 1994
Countdown: 95 - A relentless player and his dominant season
Countdown: 96 - The biggest win in Pitt history
Countdown: 97 - A dominant current Panther
Countdown: 98 - A transition year
Countdown: 99 - Hugh Green
Countdown: 100 - A look at Pitt in 1913

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