Nile Clarke Kinnick Jr.

Nile Clarke Kinnick Jr.

Adel, Dallas County, Iowa, USA
Death 2 Jun 1943 (aged 24)
At Sea
Memorial Site* Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA

* A structure erected in honor of someone whose remains lie elsewhere.

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Memorial ID 9311382 · View Source
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College Football Player. He was one of college football’s top players and was one of the greatest athletes to have come out of the state of Iowa. He was in Adel, Iowa, he played football for the University of Iowa. During his final season, in the fall of 1939, the Iowa team was picked to finish last in the Big Ten Conference having gone just 2-13-1 the previous two years. However, the Iowa team, lead by Kinnick, went 6-1-1 that season and finished second in the conference. The highlight of the season was Iowa’s 7-6 upset of highly ranked Notre Dame. In that game, he scored the winning touchdown and kicked the extra point. During his senior year he threw for 638 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 31 passes and ran for 374 yards. As a kicker, Kinnick punted 71 times in his career for a 39.9 average and hit 11 of 17 drop kicks. In 1939, he was involved in 16 of the 19 touchdowns (11 passing, 5 rushing) that Iowa scored and was involved in 107 of the 130 points that Iowa scored that year. The 1939 team was nicknamed the Ironmen because most of the players played the entire game. At the end of the season, he won virtually every award in the country. He won the Heisman Trophy, the Walter Camp Award, and the Maxwell Award and in a poll conducted by the AP, he was picked as the nation’s top male athlete of the year beating out such notables as Joe DiMaggio and Joe Louis. Even today, his Heisman acceptance speech is considered the most eloquent and moving ever given. In addition to being a top athlete, he was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and had a 3.4 grade point average. Instead of going into professional football, he entered the University of Iowa Law School with plans to go into politics. He was a navy pilot during World War II. On June 2, 1943, Kinnick was on a routine training flight from the aircraft carrier “USS Lexington” which was off the coast of Venezuela in the Gulf of Paria. During the flight, his plane developed engine trouble and he was forced to ditch it into the ocean. When the rescue boats arrived at the crash site, there was no trace of the plane or of Kinnick and his body was never recovered. Although forgotten by many people, he is still honored by the people of Iowa and by the Big Ten Conference. In 1989, he was voted the greatest football player in Iowa history. Although many people know that the Iowa football team plays its games in Kinnick Stadium, very few people know that the coin that is flipped at the start of every Big Ten football game has his image on it – a lasting tribute to Iowa’s greatest player.

Bio by: Anonymous

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Anonymous
  • Added: 12 Aug 2004
  • Find a Grave Memorial 9311382
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Nile Clarke Kinnick Jr. (9 Jul 1918–2 Jun 1943), Find a Grave Memorial no. 9311382, citing East Coast Memorial, Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave Body lost at sea.