Nile Kinnick, Jr. was born July 9, 1918 in Adel, Iowa.  He went on to become a student, football player and class president at the University of Iowa. He won the 1939 Heisman Trophy and was a consensus All-American.  Nile died tragically June 2, 1943, in the Gulf of Paria, Venezuela during a training flight while serving in the U.S Navy as an airplane pilot during World War II.

Nile Kinnick is a legend in the state of Iowa, and will be remembered forever. His number #24 has been retired. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951. In 1972, the University of Iowa renamed its football stadium “Kinnick Stadium” in Nile’s honor. In addition, the Nile Kinnick Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to award outstanding student-athletes at Iowa.

College Football News ranked Nile Kinnick as the ninth greatest college football player of all-time.


NILE is a story about a young man named Nile Kinnick who played football at the University of Iowa in the late 1930s.   It’s a story about the nation recovering from the Great Depression and on the cusp of the greatest war in the history of mankind.  One athlete, in particular, understood the historical significance of the moment.  In 1939, Nile Kinnick went on to break many Iowa Hawkeye Football records on his way to winning the 1939 Heisman Trophy.

NILE also touches on the lives of his Iowa Hawkeye teammates, who became known as the “Ironmen” because there were very few players on the 1939 team.  After two losing seasons in 1937 and 1938, the University  hired Dr. Eddie Anderson to coach the football team.  He was relentless in his pursuit to have the players in the best physical condition of any team in the nation.  Many quit.  But those that remained made history, including Nile.


Upon reading NILE, it becomes clear that this novel was written by a loyal Hawkeye.  NILE was written by Thomas Lidd, and he is, in fact, a life long Iowan.  Tom grew up in Charles City, Iowa until around 1979 when he moved to Cedar Rapids.  He attended the University of Iowa as a freshman, but later transferred to Wartburg College where he graduated with a BA in Business Administration.

In April of 2006, Tom was at a restaurant in Cedar Rapids with a friend when the conversation turned to Nile Kinnick.  Tom’s friend knew he enjoyed writing and so she suggested he write a book about Nile and the Ironmen.   This new inspiration wasn’t ignored, and 13 months later he finished his first novel titled NILE.  He wrote it in the form of a novel in the hopes of turning the story into a screenplay. 

Besides Nile Kinnick, his all time favorite Hawkeyes are Al Couppee, the quarterback of the 1939 Ironmen, and former Iowa quarterback and Heisman runner-up Chuck Long.
View Tom Lidd's profile on LinkedIn


Everybody’s All-America [ESPN]
Nile Kinnick: An American Hero [Hawkeye Nation]
An All-American Hero [Sports Then and Now]
Nile Kinnick Featured on CSTV Special
Nile Kinnick Heisman Speech