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Nile Kinnick
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Football Player
    (July 9, 1918-June 2, 1943)
    Football Player/War Hero
    1939 Heisman Trophy Winner, University of Iowa
    Charter member, National Collegiate Football Hall of Fame (1951)
    Hawkeye jersey #24 retired
    Died attempting an emergency fighter plane landing off the Venezuelan coast
    Although he is idolized as an Iowan, he graduated from an Omaha, Nebraska high school, and first tried out for the University of Minnesota football team.
    He was turned down by Minnesota, so he attended Iowa instead.
    After his death, his father refused to allow the university to honor his son by renaming their football field Kinnick Stadium (only after his father died were they able to do so, in 1972).
    Overtly enthusiastic Iowa fans, upon hearing that Kinnick's 'death plane' had been found, wanted the plane displayed at the stadium. Only when someone mentioned that Kinnink's body was likely still IN the plane was the plan dropped.
    When Topps made a football card of him for a college hall of fame series, they spelled his name wrong.
    He died for his country.
    His family had to move to Nebraska due to financial troubles his senior year.
    He was small and slow, even for 1930's standards, but accomplished much through effort and determination.
    He led Iowa to their best record in years, and brought great notoriety to the team.
    As an American Legion player, he once caught for Bob Feller.
    His Heisman acceptance speech is considered to be the greatest ever given (granted, not a great stretch there).
    After hearing his acceptance speech, where he noted the growing war in Europe, Bill Cunningham of the Boston Globe wrote, 'The country is OK as long as it produces Nile Kinnicks. The football part is incidental.'
    He refused a $10,000 offer from the NFL to study law, but eventually enlisted before the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred.
    There are three football stadiums named after Kinnick in Iowa, Nebraska, and Japan, where a high school was also named after him.
    His brother was also a fighter pilot, and also died in the war, meaning his mother was a double Gold Star mother.
    He was Phi Beta Kappa, and was student body president at Iowa.
    His likeness is on the face of the coin tossed at the start of every Big 10 football game.

Credit: Gregg Moeller

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