In 1939, Iowa’s Nile Kinnick was on the field an average of 57 minutes per game. A halfback who was the team’s main passer, Kinnick threw for 638 yards and 11 touchdowns as well as rushing for 374 yards on 106 carries. He also made 11-of-17 dropkick conversion attempts and scored 41 points. By passing, running or kicking, Kinnick was directly involved in 107 of Iowa’s 130 points that season. He also made eight interceptions.
Kinnick was named the Big Ten MVP as well as the winner of the Walter Camp and Maxwell awards, plus the Heisman Torphy. In his acceptance speech at the Heisman Dinner, Kinnick reflected the prevailing isolationist mood of the country, saying that he thanked God he had been born in America, “where they have football fields instead of in Europe where they have battlefields.” And he added that he knew, “the football players of this country had rather battle for such medals as the Heisman Trophy than for such medals as the Croix de Guerre and the Iron Cross.”
During World War II, Nile was a pilot attached to an aircraft carrier in the Caribbean. In June 1943, he crash-landed his fighter in the sea and was killed in action. The above video pays tribute to Kinnick.