The Life of Jay Berwanger
By Brian E. Cooper
Published by Crestwood Publishing, Dubuque, Iowa
320 pages. Photos and index.
Print ISBN 978-0-9885716-0-0
E-book ISBN 978-0-9885716-1-7
The first full biography of Jay Berwanger is the story of an Iowa blacksmith’s son who emerged to become the best college football player of the mid-1930s — despite playing for University of Chicago teams struggling to be competitive in the Big Ten Conference.
The book recounts Berwanger’s high school and college competitions in football, wrestling and track — including his election as the winner of the first Heisman Trophy and his selection as the first player chosen in the first National Football League draft.
The biography continues with Berwanger’s post-football success in business, his wartime service, triumphs and tragedies in family life and his generosity toward many causes, including his beloved University of Chicago.
Advance praise for “First Heisman:”
“I’m so thrilled that Brian Cooper is shining a spotlight on the original Heisman Trophy winner, Jay Berwanger.” — Archie Griffin, two-time Heisman winner (1974-75)
“Brian Cooper’s phenomenal account gives outstanding detail of Iowa native Jay Berwanger’s time at Dubuque High School before he rose to the top of the college football world. The biography is a must-read for those – like myself – who are passionate about Iowa history.” –Terry E. Branstad, Governor of Iowa
“This biography of Jay is long overdue, and Brian Cooper helps readers appreciate his greatness – not just as a football player but as an outstanding individual.” – Rudy Riska, Heisman Memorial Trophy Trust (retired)
“If you want to learn more about Jay Berwanger or simply get a sense of what intercollegiate football was like during his era, this is a great read.” – Tom Weingartner, former University of Chicago athletic director
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