Sunday, January 01, 2006

Flutie Makes First NFL Dropkick Since 1941, But He Has Nothing On Iowa's 1939 Heisman Trophy Winner, Nile Kinnick, Who Had 11 Dropkicks

Memories of Nile Kinnick!

The famous Kinnick -- the only player from an Iowa team who has ever won the Heisman Trophy -- could do just about everything on the football field.

Including dropkick.

Indeed, he was successful on 11 of 17 dropkick attempts throughout his University of Iowa career.

Kinnick [pictured on the right] was the star player for coach Eddie Anderson's 1939 Hawkeyes, and climaxed his senior season by winning the Heisman Trophy.

Memories of Kinnick were evident today after Doug Flutie [pictured on the left] added another oddity to his football resume when he converted a dropkick in the fourth quarter of the New England Patriots' 28-26 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

With starting quarterback Tom Brady sitting out most of the season-ending game, backup Matt Cassel threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to former Iowa standout Tim Dwight to cut Miami's lead to 25-19 with 6:10 left in the game.

Flutie, the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner at Boston College who was listed as the Patriots' No. 3 quarterback, came in for the extra point and lined up at quarterback.

After a timeout, Flutie took the snap, dropped the ball and kicked it off a short hop through the uprights for one point. He ran off the field and embraced coach Bill Belichick.

"I said, 'I could do it,' " Flutie said. "'There's no real application for it, but I could do it.' "

According to the Hall of Fame site, Chicago's Ray "Scooter" McLean converted the last dropkick for an extra point in the Bears' 37-9 victory over the New York Giants on Dec. 21, 1941.

The dropkick remains in the NFL's official rule book, even though it hadn't been successfully converted in decades. Rule 3, Section 8 defines the drop kick as "a kick by a kicker who drops the ball and kicks it as, or immediately after, it touches the ground."

According to the Hall of Fame site, ex-Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, begged his coach for a chance to attempt a dropkick in a game. But his coach, Mike Ditka, denied the request.

Kinnick, certainly the ironman of the Ironmen, played 402 consecutive minutes in the 1939 season before getting knocked out of the Northwestern game with a separated shoulder. Kinnick was the star of the show all year, throwing for 638 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 31 passes and ran for 374 yards.

In his career he gained 1,674 yards returning kickoffs for 604 yards. As a kicker, Kinnick punted 71 times for a 39.9 average and hit 11 of 17 dropkicks. In 1939, Kinnick was involved in 16 of the 19 touchdowns [11 passing, 5 rushing] Iowa scored and responsible for 107 of Iowa's 130 points.