The whole story is bizarre and sounds like it was motivated by greed. From the NYT:
“It was crazy what went on at the cemetery,” said Karl Gipp, a distant relative of Gipp’s and the court-appointed representative of the estates of George Gipp and his sister Bertha Gipp Martin. “It was like a circus, what went on out there. I was furious then and I’m still furious. There was no reason for it, and these people really did a disservice to our entire community.”I think appalled is an appropriate response. It certainly sounds like Bynum was hoping to uncover something juicy about the Gipper and make a fortune in the process. What's Bynum's response to all of this? From the DetNews:
One of the people to whom Karl Gipp is referring is Mike Bynum, a Birmingham, Ala., author of six sports books and editor of many more, who started this latest chapter in the Legend of George Gipp in August of this year while doing research online. He happened on a posting from August 2005 on a genealogy Web site by a woman looking for information about the George Gipp family. Bynum said he located the woman, Ellen Easton, and began talking to her about finding out whether her mother, known as Bette Easton, born four days after Gipp’s death, was the daughter of George Gipp.
Bynum was hopeful that the manuscript he was working on would become more interesting to publishers because of the paternity question. Less than two months later, Bynum invited a production crew from the new ESPN show “E:60” to be on hand for the exhuming of Gipp’s remains in Laurium, Mich.
Easton declined to comment directly about her dealings with Bynum, but she said in an e-mail message that she and her sister, Paula Krebes, were “appalled” when they learned Gipp’s body had been exhumed to obtain DNA that would establish whether he was their grandfather. “We had been convinced there was a lock of hair to compare DNA to,” Easton wrote. Krebes wrote in an e-mail message that she did not learn about the exhumation until Bynum called her four days after it occurred. “I vaguely remember hanging up on him as he began to describe the process the lab would be using to extract DNA from bones,” she wrote.
Bynum, who helped set up the exhumation and DNA tests, said he was just trying to bring two families together, not promote his book.So what was the rush? According to Torger Omdahl, a lawyer in Iron River, Mich., representing the Gipp family, "Proper procedures were totally ignored. For someone interred 87 years, a disinterment should be done almost like an archaeological dig. They went in there with a backhoe and at first had the wrong gravesite and dug up Bertha Gipp’s skeleton.”
"That's the least of anyone's interest," he said about the tome, which will be published in the fall.
And questions have even been raised about the way Rick Frueh, a great-nephew of George Gipp who worked with Bynum on the exhumation, went about obtaining the required legal approvals. It turns out he'll receive royalties from the book, although he claims that has nothing to do with why he helped Bynum.
Frueh, in a written statement that Bynum helped prepare, said he was trying to help a family that may have been related to him as it tried to solve a mystery.Yeah, right. I think he meant to say "helping myself to some family money." The whole situation is sad and gruesome, and Bynum, Frueh and ESPN will come out winners and make money on the publicity they've generated, but at least the Gipper still has his reputation intact. Now, please, let the man rest in peace.
"Helping family is the strongest act of love that we can offer each other," Frueh wrote.