The world was in turmoil, and the football star from Iowa felt a tug on his conscience.He needed to speak out, against injustice, poverty and tyranny. He used the biggest platform of his young life to decry a war taking place a continent away.Seventy-eight years ago, Nile Kinnick was standing before football luminaries and reporters at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City, the Heisman Trophy at his side. The University of Iowa senior gave the usual thanks to his coaches, teammates and everyone who voted for him to receive college football’s most prestigious award.Then Kinnick turned briefly from the world of sports to address the topic that was at the top of everyone’s mind.”I thank God I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest and not on the battlefields of Europe,” he said. ”I can speak confidently and positively that the players of this country would much more, much rather struggle and fight to win a Heisman award than a Croix de Guerre.” The Heisman Trophy will be handed out for an 83rd time Saturday, after an autumn in which athletes and social issues have been intertwined as never before. Kinnick’s 1939 speech was a rarity in its day — a revered athlete crossing so… Read full this story
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