Hawkeyes to pay tribute to Nile Kinnick, military with helmets Saturday

Saturday is Military Appreciation Day at Kinnick Stadium as Iowa hosts Northwestern, and the Hawkeyes’ helmets will reflect that.

The Tiger Hawk logo on the right side of Iowa’s helmets will change from gold to the red, white and blue pattern of the United States flag, a design worn seven times previously.

On the left side, all players will wear the number 24 in honor of Nile Kinnick, a new touch.

Kinnick, born 100 years ago in Adel, is Iowa’s only Heisman Trophy winner, claiming college football’s top prize in 1939. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy Air Corps Reserve in 1941, days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and died on a training flight on June 2, 1943 when his plane crashed off the coast of Venezuela.

Iowa changed the name of Iowa Stadium to honor him in 1972, and the number 24 he wore as a Hawkeye is retired.

Iowa said the left side of the helmets is typically left black for this special design “in honor of all men and women of all branches of the military who gave their lives in the line of duty.”

“Honoring all members of the military is something we enjoy promoting each year in recognition of Veterans Day,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said in a release. “With the anniversary dates of Nile Kinnick’s birth 100 years ago, and his tragic, untimely passing 75 years ago while serving our country, this is certainly an appropriate tribute to him, as a former Hawkeye and a true national hero.”