Oct. 20, 2010
CHICAGO -- Former Northwestern standout Otto Graham has been named Big Ten Icon No. 14. The three-sport star will be profiled on the Big Ten Network's countdown series, Big Ten Icons, presented by Discover, at 8 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Oct. 26.
A native of Waukegan, Ill., Graham came to Evanston on a basketball scholarship. By the time his collegiate career was finished, he was an All-American in football and basketball for the Wildcats, as well as a star on the baseball team.
On the hardwood, Graham was a team captain and leading scorer for the 'Cats, earning All-America honors in 1944. On the Northwestern baseball team, Graham was a .300 hitter and centerfielder. But it was on the gridiron where he truly stood out, ultimately becoming a Hall of Famer.
Graham may never have played football if he hadn't been discovered in a fraternity football league by Northwestern coach Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf in the fall of 1940. The following year, Graham was in the Wildcats' starting lineup, where he would stay for three seasons. During his senior year, Graham won the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football as Big Ten MVP and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Northwestern presented Graham with its Alumni Merit Award in 1954 and he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1956. The Otto Graham trophy case occupies a place of honor in Nicolet Hall in the Northwestern football offices.
In an essay for www.BigTenIcons.com, former Chicago Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath wrote, "Few athletes have ever been as accomplished, not to mention as versatile." To read the full essay and to watch a video feature on Graham, visit his Big Ten Icons locker at www.BigTenIcons.com.
Graham is the second former Wildcat to be named to the Big Ten Icons list, with current head football coach and former All-America linebacker Pat Fitzgerald checking in at No. 41. The No. 1 Big Ten Icon will be revealed around the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament. The Icons series is counting down the top 50 student-athletes in Big Ten history, based solely on their collegiate playing careers. All student-athletes from current Big Ten schools are eligible for the network's list, even if they did not personally play in the Big Ten.
New episodes of the 20-episode series, hosted by legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson, debut at 8 p.m. CT every Tuesday night through the end of football season and will continue into the spring.
Fans can visit www.BigTenIcons.com to see a complete roster of Big Ten Icons, which also features essays, video and other key facts about each Icon's career. Viewers can also participate in the "Talk of the Locker Room" contest with a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. Weekly winners will take home a 55-inch Philips HD television.
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