Novel About Iowa's Nile Kinnick Could Become a Major Motion Picture

B.Senior Analyst IAugust 30, 2010

The Cover of NILE, by Tom Lidd
The Cover of NILE, by Tom Lidd

Few football programs around the country lay claim to storied war heroes.  

Arizona has Pat Tillman. Oklahoma has Norman McNabb.

Iowa has Nile Kinnick.

Kinnick is Iowa’s only Heisman Trophy winner and the namesake of Iowa’s football stadium. He was an outstanding person on and off the field, whose life was tragically cut short when his fighter plane crashed during a training flight in 1943.

His story inspired author Tom Lidd to write NILE, a novel that paints a vivid picture of just why the All-American meant so much to Iowa. Lidd's novel combines football, world history, personal relationships, and a little creativity to tell the fascinating story of Kinnick's college life.

After two losing seasons in 1937 and 1938, the University of Iowa hired Dr. Eddie Anderson to coach the football team. Anderson was relentless in his pursuit to have the players in the best physical condition of any team in the nation.  

Many players quit along the way. Those that remained made history, and became known as Ironmen.

Iowans know the story of the Heisman Trophy winner and his teammates well, but it's one the entire nation would enjoy as it screams major motion picture.

Lidd wanted to write a novel, rather than a biography, because his ultimate goal was to turn the story into a screenplay. As it turns out, Lidd is well on his way to accomplishing his goal.  

With the help of a screenwriters, his 440-page novel was converted into two hours of screen time. 

"The screenwriters are in the process of sending the script to some key people," Lidd recently explained. "It's amazing how someone knows someone who might be able to help us out. The screenwriters are living in the Iowa City area and are also huge Hawkeye fans, so they are as excited about the potential movie as I am." 

Lidd described the process of creating the screenplay, titled "The Ironmen," as incredible. 

"A gentleman at the University of Iowa Foundation, who had read my book, gave me the name of someone to contact," the author said. "I will be forever grateful for the kindness of those people who were involved in forwarding an e-mail to the next person in the chain."

After the contacts were made, the screenplay was quickly constructed. Now that the screenplay is written, the key is to find a film company and other major players that will see its potential.

While it’s being shopped around, Hawkeye football fans can start to consider the available options for actors to play Kinnick.

"If I had my pick, it would be Matt Damon to play Coach Eddie Anderson, Taylor Lautner to play Nile Kinnick, and Brandon Routh to play Irv Prasse or Al Couppee," Lidd pondered. "Maybe Routh could play Nile. I think Superman could make a good Nile Kinnick."

Regardless of the actors involved, there is no doubt The Ironmen would be a fantastic movie. 

Hopefully studio executives agree.