Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nile Kinnick - Iowa Hawkeye Football Legend

1955 Topps football card featuring Nile Kinnick
Nile Kinnick was probably one of the greatest all around athletes ever seen in Iowa.  In high school he played basketball, baseball, and football.  In 1936 he was recruited by the Iowa Hawkeyes, and was co-captain of his freshman football team.  In 1937 he led the nation in punting.

1939 was a breakout year for Kinnick, where he won all sorts of honors including - The Heisman Trophy, All American First Team, Big Ten MVP Award, AP Male Athlete of the Year, and the Maxwell Award.

After his senior year, he turned down a reported $10,000 a year to play professional football for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Instead he entered the University of Iowa Law School, and served as assistant coach for the Iowa Hawkeye football team.

Kinnick was inducted into the Navy just days before the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor.  He was training to be a pilot, when his F4F Wildcat developed an oil leak off the coast of Venezuela.  Unable to make it back to the USS Lexington, he attempted a landing at sea, and was lost in the resulting crash.  Kinnick's body was never found, despite the fact that rescue crews arrived on the scene within ten minutes.  He died on June 2, 1943.

The Iowa Hawkeye's renamed their football stadium after him in 1972.


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