From Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s relationship to the internet’s love for Joe Burrow, it’s safe to say that football is having a moment in pop culture. The NFL may be the dominant league, but college football holds a special place in the hearts of millions of Americans. Luckily for us, Sam Hartman, the 24-year-old quarterback of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, is set to become a social media sensation, and it’s easy to see why.
In a viral Instagram reel, Alex Clark, host of POPlitics and The Spillover podcast, spoke of Hartman’s looks. “Forget Travis Kelce, why is no talking about Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman?”
“It’s the way this man popped out a Disney movie. He’s a Disney prince,” Clark continues, “It should be illegal for someone who looks this good to play a contact sport. We need to keep this man behind rope and tape to preserve his face.”
The reel received plenty of traction, including a “hahahahah” comment from legendary sports broadcaster Erin Andrews. Fans have also pointed out that he resembles former NFL player Eric Decker, so much so that his wife, country-pop singer Jessie James Decker, commented, “Is that my son grown up?”
Clark isn’t alone. We haven’t seen a college football player get this much social media attention since Joe Burrow helped the LSU Tigers win the National Championship in 2020. If you search #samhartman on TikTok, you’ll see plenty of football analysis videos, but even more videos of women swooning over Hartman.
Some fans have pointed out that Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman is also easy on the eyes. With a handsome quarterback and head coach, it’s safe to say that Notre Dame fans are blessed this season.
While these TikToks focus on Hartman’s looks, he also exhibits traditionally masculine traits on and off the field that we can’t help but love.
Behind every good athlete, there’s a story of how he overcame adversity to become the hardworking and successful player that fans know and love. This formula has worked for legendary football players like Tom Brady and other acclaimed athletes like David Beckham, so it only makes sense that it works with Hartman. It doesn’t take a seasoned football analyst to recognize that Hartman has a strong work ethic, and it’s even more impressive once you learn the adversity he’s battled to get to where he is today.
According to ESPN, Hartman had a health scare while playing for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in 2022 that could have ended his career. He was diagnosed with a blood clot that was a side effect of a surgery he had on his thyroid as a teenager. He had to get a rib removed to help relieve the pressure that caused the blood clot, but he was back on the field four weeks after his surgery.
Before he got his rib removed, he asked the doctors if he could keep it as a reminder of what he had to overcome, and he turned his rib into a necklace. When asked what he says to those who think that's odd, he said, “If they haven’t lived it, they probably don’t understand the sentimental value in the struggle and the lows of what I went through and what my family went through."
A strong work ethic is one of the many reasons why so many women are attracted to athletes, and it’s clear that Hartman is resilient and hardworking and knows the value of not giving up in the face of adversity to achieve a long-term goal. This not only makes him a good college football player, but will likely increase his chances of getting drafted to an NFL team.
He Understands Leadership
When it comes to college football teams with long and storied histories, Notre Dame is at the top of the list. The Fighting Irish has one of the most loyal and passionate fan bases in college football, putting plenty of pressure on players and coaches to succeed.
It doesn’t take a lifelong football fan to know that the quarterback must be a leader on the team, and Hartman excels at it. When asked how Hartman approaches leadership as an older player (he’s 24), he told NBC Sports, “To relate to them, you just have to work hard and show them that you care more about them as humans than football players. I think sometimes that can get lost with my age, with my experience, and where I’m at, and the attention that I get. Sometimes you can get caught up, and guys start looking at you as a figure or a coach, and I always try to shy away from that and try to relate to them.”
Hartman is also a class act. After the Fighting Irish defeated the Duke Blue Devils on September 30, he checked on Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard, who was injured during the game, before celebrating the win with his team. Hartman didn’t have to do this, but doing so shows that he’s a great leader and a gentleman.
Hartman hasn’t been at Notre Dame for long, but he has already impacted the community through charity work. He seems to have a soft spot for Ronald McDonald House Charities, a nonprofit organization that provides food, housing, and other forms of assistance to families of children facing medical crises. Hartman has shared some of his volunteer work on X (formerly known as Twitter), and fans can’t get enough of his big heart. He also volunteers at his local YMCA to help children learn about nutrition.
He Sets the Example with Mental Health
Hartman is also open about his mental health, mainly regarding going to therapy for stress and anxiety. His teammate Jayden Thomas said that it’s been helpful for teammates to know that there’s no shame in getting help. He told ABC 7, "Him showing us what he's been through and telling us about his mental health journey and seeing a therapist, it reached the whole room. We've all been there, we've all struggled with it before, so to have a teammate who's not afraid, he's someone who can have those deep conversations but also sheds a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel."
In a culture that demonizes masculinity and stigmatizes seeking treatment for mental health, it’s nice to see men like Hartman encourage his teammates to get help if needed. Some may still believe that real men don’t ask for help, but there’s something attractive about a man who is courageous enough to be vulnerable, mature enough to know when he needs help, and emotionally intelligent enough to understand the importance of taking care of his mental health.
Sam Hartman’s strong work ethic, leadership skills, and gentlemanly confidence show that he’s the perfect model of traditional masculinity in a modern man. The fact that he’s handsome and charitable makes him the whole package, so it’s no wonder that women on TikTok are crushing on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback.
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