Saturday, May 27, 2006

Required Reading

Because we are inundated daily with stories about athletes’ off-field troubles and in light of the Memorial Day holiday, I thought I would share with you the words of one of our country’s greatest athletes and greatest men.

The following is the text of Nile Kinnick's 1939 Heisman Trophy acceptance speech. Sometimes it’s not just hyperbole. They really don’t make them like they used to.

"Thank you very, very kindly, Mr. Holcomb. It seems to me that everyone is letting his superlatives run away with him this evening. But nonetheless, I want you to know that I am mighty, mighty happy to accept this trophy this evening.

"Every football player in these United States dreams about winning that trophy, and this fine trip to New York. Every player considers that trophy the acme in recognition of this kind. The fact that I am actually receiving this trophy tonight almost overwhelms me, and I know that all those boys who have gone before me must have felt somewhat the same way.

"From my own personal viewpoint, I consider my winning this award as, indirectly, a great tribute to the new coaching staff of the University of Iowa headed by Dr. Eddie Anderson, and to my teammates sitting back in Iowa City. A finer man and a better coach never hit these United States, and a finer bunch of boys and a more courageous bunch of boys never graced the gridirons of the Midwest than that Iowa team of 1939. I wish that they might all be with me tonight to receive this trophy. They certainly deserve it.

"I want to take this grand opportunity to thank, collectively, all the sports writers, and all the sportscasters, and all those who have seen fit and seen their way clear to cast their ballots in my favor for this trophy. I also want take this opportunity to thank Mr. Prince and his committee, the Heisman Award Committe, and all those connected with the Downtown Athletic Club for this trophy and the fine time that they are showing me. And not only for that, but for making this fine and worthy trophy available to football players of this country.

"Finally, if you'll permit me, I'd like to make a comment which in my mind is indicative, perhaps, of the greater significance of football and sports emphasis in general in this country.

"And that is, I thank God that I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest and not on the battlefields of Europe. I can speak confidently and positively that the players of this country would much more—much rather—struggle and fight to win the Heisman award than the Croix de Guerre."

On June 2, 1943, Kinnick was forced to ditch his plane following engine trouble during a routine training flight from the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, which was off the coast of Venezuela in the Gulf of Paria. 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.


Anonymous tennisbum said...

"Who was the first Nebraskan to win the Heisman??? No one thinks of Niles.

5/30/2006 7:32 AM  

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