Nile Kinnick was and is a real Iowa hero. He is the only Iowa Hawkeye to win the Heisman Trophy. His Heisman Trophy acceptance speech has been called the greatest in the history of the award. He is from Adel, Iowa, which is about 20 miles west of Des Moines on US Route 6. The Hawkeye football stadium, known as “Kinnick” here in Iowa, is named after him. He turned down lucrative offers to play both professional football and professional baseball to serve in the US Navy as a pilot. It was on one of the training exercises where he met with an untimely death due to mechanical failure of the airplane he was flying.
Gotta love this quote from him:
“To be a tough, rugged boy is every lad’s ambition. But to be a gentleman, to be kindly, charitable, thoughtful as well as tough and rugged is much more to be desired. And he who can be both is much the better man and usually much tougher in the long run.”
— Nile Kinnick
Kind of brings a pride to you knowing that someone from your home state said something this great. And it makes you wonder about some of the thugs running around calling themselves men.
I got this email a while ago, but it’s worth repeating now. Thanks, Judy!
A few weeks ago I was talking with an out of state friend. While we chatted, I kept talking about the upcoming Iowa game. He is not a big sports fan, and had never been to an Iowa Football game. He just could not understand my passion for Iowa Hawkeye Football. “What is the big deal about Iowa football? That is all I hear people talking about up here,” he asked.
- Iowa Hawkeye Football is best described as a crisp fall day with 70,000+ people chanting I .. O .. W ..A.
- Hawkeye Football is seeing a 9 month old at the game dressed in black and gold and thinking “If I had only been so lucky…”.
- Hawkeye Football is the 60 year old from Sioux City who drives 6 hours every Saturday to park his RV in somebody’s yard and tailgate all day until the game.
- Hawkeye Football is wearing a black and gold shirt in Denver, CO and having somebody stick their head out of a car at a stoplight and scream “GO HAWKS!”
- Hawkeye Football is knowing at the tender age of 5 that the Cyclones are vicious evildoers to be hated, but having no idea why.
- Hawkeye Football is a guy like Dallas Clark, who walks onto the team, 3 years later is a star, leaves a year early to play in the NFL, but was SO DAMN NICE that nobody can begrudge him for it.
- Hawkeye Football is a guy like Shonn Greene, who came in with a scholarship but lost it due to bad grades, worked hard in the classroom so as not to let his teammates down and ended up leading the Big 10 in rushing, and never ONCE forgot to credit his teammates in helping him.
- Hawkeye Football is having one of your starting offensive lineman graduate to go to med school!
- Hawkeye Football is naming your firstborn son Hayden.
- Hawkeye Football is the little black and gold flags waving off of every car antenna caravanning up and down I-80 and I-380 every Saturday on their way to Iowa City.
- Hawkeye Football is the bricks of Kinnick and the grass on the field with the smell in the air of some kind of meat barbecuing that will soon be put on a stick and sold to a tanked undergrad who can no longer speak as they are hoarse from screaming from the front row of the student section.
- Hawkeye Football is 12 weeks of getting up at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings, drinking Bloody Marys and eating a bowl of chili on Melrose before the sun comes up.
- Hawkeye Football is being anywhere in Iowa City on a Saturday afternoon and hearing a dull roar come through the air and thinking, “Hmmm, we must’ve scored”.
- Hawkeye Football is not being able to get up and make it to your 8:00 class Monday through Friday, but managing to be in your favorite Iowa City parking lot with a cold beer in hand before 6:00 on Saturday.
- Hawkeye Football is sitting in Kinnick with your out of state friend and have him turn to you and scream through the roar of the crowd, “I’ve never seen anything like this before … it’s amazing.”
No, it’s Iowa Hawkeye Football.
I got an email from a buddy and it sure sounded like a great story. Here it is:
In a supermarket, Kurtis, the stock boy, was busily working when a new voice came over the loud speaker asking for a carry out at register. Kurtis was almost finished, and wanted to get some fresh air, and decided to answer the call. As he approached the check-out stand, a distant smile caught his eye, the new check-out girl was beautiful. She was an older woman (maybe 26, and he was only 22) and he fell in love.
Later that day, after his shift was over, he waited by the punch clock to find out her name. She came into the break room, smiled softly at him, took her card and punched out, then left. He looked at her card, BRENDA.
He walked out only to see her start walking up the road. Next day, he waited outside as she left the supermarket, and offered her a ride home. He looked harmless enough, and she accepted. When he dropped her off, he asked if maybe he could see her again, outside of work. She simply said it wasn’t possible.
He pressed and she explained she had two children and she couldn’t afford a baby-sitter, so he offered to pay for the baby-sitter. Reluctantly she accepted his offer for a date for the following Saturday.
That Saturday night he arrived at her door only to have her tell him that she was unable to go with him. The baby-sitter had called and canceled. To which Kurtis simply said, “Well, let’s take the kids with us.”
She tried to explain that taking the children was not an option, but again not taking no for an answer, he pressed. Finally Brenda, brought him inside to meet her children. She had an older daughter who was just as cute as a bug, Kurtis thought, then Brenda brought out her son, in a wheelchair. He was born a paraplegic with Down Syndrome.
Kurtis asked Brenda, “I still don’t understand why the kids can’t come with us?” Brenda was amazed. Most men would run away from a woman with two kids, especially if one had disabilities – just like her first husband and father of her children had done. Kurtis was not ordinary he had a different mindset.
That evening Kurtis and Brenda loaded up the kids, went to dinner and the movies. When her son needed anything Kurtis would take care of him. When he needed to use the restroom, he picked him up out of his wheelchair, took him and brought him back. The kids loved Kurtis. At the end of the evening, Brenda knew this was the man she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life with.
A year later, they were married and Kurtis adopted both of her children.
So what happened to Kurtis the stock boy and Brenda the check-out girl? Well, Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Warner now live in Arizona, where he is currently employed as the quarterback of the National Football League Arizona Cardinals and has his Cardinals in the hunt for a possible win in the Super Bowl. Is this a surprise ending or could you have guessed that he was not an ordinary person?
It should be noted that he also quarterbacked the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. He has also been the NFL’s Most Valuable Player twice and the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player.
For those of you who don’t know, Kurt Warner graduated from Regis High School in Cedar Rapids, IA.
They now have a total of 7 children, 5 of theirs and 2 of Brenda’s.
That sure sounds like a nice story, doesn’t it? I mean, how many guys would do all this? REALLY! Well, to tell the truth, MOST of the details in the story are FALSE. No, they were not embellished – the true story is even more amazing that this little heart-warming fable.
(Taken from Snopes)
The premise of the above-quoted story, that NFL quarterback Kurt Warner (now with the Arizona Cardinals) married the mother of two children, one of whom which had severe medical problems, is true. On the other hand, most of the key details given in the now widely emailed story are wrong. (Which in itself is a crying shame because the real story about Kurt’s and Brenda’s path through life is far more inspiring than this factually incorrect one.)
Let’s address the inaccuracies first:
Kurt and Brenda did not meet while both were working in a grocery store, so you can throw out all that bit about his mooning over her timecard. They met in 1992 at a country bar while he was Northern Iowa’s starting quarterback. (After being cut by the Green Bay Packers in 1994, Kurt did find employment in a grocery store, though. He stocked shelves at a HyVee in Cedar Falls for $5.50 an hour.) The next morning Kurt brought Brenda roses and wanted to meet her youngsters. She’d told Kurt about her children the night before, so there was no dramatic surprise when she introduced her disabled son.
The Warners’ was a lengthy courtship. They married in 1997 after meeting in 1992 (not “a year later,” as the e-mail has it).
Brenda (who is four years older than Kurt) had two children by a previous marriage; however, the e-mail version has their birth order reversed. In real life, Zachary is three years older than his sister, Jesse Jo. (More on this seemingly picayune point later because it’s pivotal to the real story of Brenda Warner’s life before Kurt.)
Zachary Warner (born in 1989) does indeed have serious physical infirmities, but how he came by them is far more of a story than the Internet fiction lets on. He was a perfectly healthy infant, not a Down Syndrome child. When he was four months old, his father dropped him, and in the blink of an eye, this previously healthy baby was suddenly clinging to life, his grip slipping fast. He suffered severe brain damage, and both of his retinas were ruptured. At the time, few thought Zachary would live, and fewer still held out any hope he would ever see, sit up, read, walk, or talk.
Zachary’s recovery has been long and arduous, but he now walks and talks. Though still legally blind, he can make out colors and shapes. No longer strictly a special-needs student, he is integrated for half-days in a regular high school classroom.
Kurt adopted Zachary and Jesse after his wedding to Brenda in 1997. The Warners have since added five more children to their brood: Kade in 1998, Jada in 2001, Elijah in 2003, and twins Sienna and Sierra in 2005.
As for what sort of lad Zachary is and what kind of relationship he enjoys with his adoptive father, this anecdote should say it all: After the Rams victory in the NFC Championship game in 2000, 10-year-old Zachary presented Kurt with a homemade card done in Rams blue and gold. Inside, in childlike scrawl, it read: “You’re as good a dad as you are a quarterback!”
Zachary’s birth dad could hardly be described in similar fashion. An inability to come to terms with the injuries he’d visited upon his son led to the breakup of his marriage to Brenda. He left her when she was eight months pregnant with Jesse.
Over and above the numerous inaccuracies, the worst offense this particular emailed glurge is guilty of is omission. Not content with recasting the details of the Warners’ lives (and the reality had the fiction beat, remember), it leaves by the wayside horrendously large chunks of a truly thrilling story of the sort one usually pays $9.00 to see at the movies:
- All the heartbreak Kurt endured trying to get into the NFL, and the many setbacks he had to weather along the way. So many of our gridiron heroes go in as highly touted draft picks it’s sometimes hard to realize some take a tortuous path to the pigskin paradise of the NFL. Kurt presented as a free agent to the Green Bay Packers in 1994, was signed, then cut by them that same year. In 1997 he had a tryout scheduled with the Chicago Bears which fell through when an injury sustained during his honeymoon rendered him hors de combat. (A venomous spider had bitten him on his throwing elbow.) He had to muck about in the Arena and European leagues before finally being taken on by the Rams in 1997 as their third-string quarterback. In 1999 he stepped in during the preseason in place of injured Trent Green and began almost immediately to rewrite Rams’ history.
- Brenda’s battle to make a life for herself and her two children after her first husband deserted her. This former Marine had to return to her parents’ home when she was eight months pregnant with her second child and with a brain-damaged child already in tow. She completed her nursing training during this period, getting by with the help of food stamps and student loans.
- The death of Brenda’s parents in Mountain View, Arkansas, in a tornado in 1996. They’d retired there just a year earlier.
- Kurt’s embracing of Christianity in 1996. (Although he was raised a Catholic, he dates his spiritual awakening to those dark days in the wake of the deaths of Brenda’s parents.)
- Kurt’s throwing for a record 414 yards in his 23-16 Super Bowl XXXIV victory over the Tennessee Titans and being named that contest’s Most Valuable Player. This new mark topped the previous record of 357 yards set by San Francisco’s Joe Montana in Super Bowl XXIII and capped an astounding 4,353-yard, 41-touchdown regular season that won him league MVP honors.
As you can see, falling in love with and then marrying a gal who had two children, one of them a special needs child, was just part of this most remarkable story.
In Super Bowl XXXVI, Kurt Warner led the St. Louis Rams in their quest for another victory; although they came up just short, Warner was already the stuff of legends. Deservedly.
My note: It couldn’t happen to a greater person. Kurt was at Cedar Rapids this summer helping with the flood recovery efforts. He’s a vocal Christian and a true role model. So many of today’s “role models” turn out to be thugs or criminals; Kurt is exactly what we need today as a role model for our youth.
Another note: Of the top passing yardage games in Superbowl history, Kurt Warner holds the top 3 places AND the career passing yardage record.