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George "The Gipper" Gipp (February 18, 1895 – December 14, 1920) was a college football player who played for the University of Notre Damemarker. Gipp was selected by Walter Camp as Notre Dame's first All-American and is Notre Dame's second consensus All-American (of 79), after Gus Dorais. Gipp played multiple positions, most notably halfback, quarterback, and punter. He is still considered today to be one of the most versatile athletes to play the game of football and is the subject of Knute Rockne's famous "Win one for the Gipper" speech. Gipp died at the age of 25 of streptococcal throat infection, days after leading Notre Dame to a win over Northwestern in his senior season.

College career

Born in Laurium, Michiganmarker, he entered Notre Dame intending to play baseball for the Fighting Irish, but was recruited by Knute Rockne for the football team, despite having no experience in organized football. During his Notre Dame career, Gipp led the Irish in rushing and passing each of his last three seasons (1918, 1919 and 1920). His career mark of 2,341 rushing yards lasted more than 50 years until Jerome Heavens broke it in 1978. Gipp also threw for 1,789 yards and did not allow a pass completion in his territory. He scored 83 career touchdowns, averaged 38 yards a punt, and gathered five interceptions as well as 14 yards per punt return and 22 yards per kick return in four seasons of play for the Fighting Irish. Gipp is still Notre Dame's all-time leader for a career in average yards per rush (8.1), average yards per play for total offense (9.37), and average yards per game for total offense (128.4).


Gipp Memorial, Laurium, Michigan.
Gravestone in Lake View Cemetery, Calumet
Gipp died December 14, 1920, two weeks after being elected Notre Dame's first All-American by Walter Camp and second consensus All-American overall. A frequently-told but probably apocryphal story of Gipp's death begins when he returned to Notre Dame's campus after curfew from a night out. Unable to gain entrance to his residence, Gipp went to the rear door of Washington Hall, the campus' theatre building. Gipp was a steward for the building and knew the rear door was often unlocked. He usually spent such nights in the hall. On that night, however, the door was locked, and Gipp was forced to sleep outside. By the morning he had contracted pneumonia and eventually died from a related infection.

It is more likely that Gipp contracted strep throat and pneumonia while giving punting lessons after his final game, November 20 against Northwestern University. Since antibiotics were not yet available in the 1920s, treatment options for such infections were limited and they could be fatal even to young, healthy individuals.

Gipp's hometown, Laurium, built a memorial in his honor; he is buried in nearby Lake View Cemetery in Calumet, Michiganmarker.

"Win One for the Gipper"

It was on his hospital bed that he is purported to have delivered the famous,"win just one for the Gipper" line. He apparently said this line to Knute Rockne, the football coach of Notre Dame. The full quotation from which the line is derived is:

Rockne used the story of Gipp, along with this deathbed line that he attributed to Gipp, to rally his team to an underdog victory over the undefeated Armymarker team of 1928 at Yankee Stadium.

The phrase "Win one for the Gipper" was later used as a political slogan by Ronald Reagan, who in 1940 portrayed Gipp in Knute Rockne, All American and was often referred to as "The Gipper". His most famous use of the phrase was at the 1988 Republican National Convention when he told Vice President George H. W. Bush, "George, go out there and win one for the Gipper." The term was also used by President George W. Bush at the 2004 Republican Convention when he honored the recently deceased President Reagan by stating, "this time we can truly win one for the Gipper."

Win one for the Gipper was also imitated by Dwight Schultz at the end of the episode The Bells of St. Mary's in the third season of The A-Team.

The story was parodied in the 1980 movie Airplane! when Dr. Rumack tells Ted Striker the story of George Zipp, and to "win one for the Zipper".

Exhumation and controversy

On October 4, 2007, George Gipp's body was exhumed for DNA testing to determine if he had fathered a child out of wedlock with an 18 year old high school student. The right femur was removed and the rest of the remains were reburied the same day. A sports author who was present at the exhumation said it was requested by Rick Frueh, the grandson of one of Gipp's sisters. The tests showed that Gipp was not the father of the child who was born within days of Gipp's death and who died in 2006. Other Gipp relatives claim exhumation was conducted in a manner and under circumstances that are subject to legal action for damages.


  • He was voted into the College Football Hall of Famemarker on December 14, 1951, at 3:27 a.m., in memory of the time and date of Gipp's death.
  • George Gipp Memorial Park was dedicated on August 3, 1935, in his hometown. A plaque kept in the park lists former George Gipp Award-winners, given to outstanding senior, male athletes from Calumet High School.
  • He was ranked #22 on ESPN's Top 25 Players In College Football History list.

Further reading

  • One For The Gipper-George Gipp, Knute Rockne and Notre Dame, Patrick Chelland. Panoply Publications, 298 pp., 2008. ISBN 978-0-9818391-0-3

  • Gipp at Notre Dame-The Untold Story, Emil Klosinski. Publish America, 278 pp., 2003. ISBN 1-4137-1185-5

  • The Life and Times of George Gipp, George Gekas. And Books, 219pp., April 1988. ISBN 0-89708-164-1


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  3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: George Gipp's body is exhumed for DNA testing - International Herald Tribune

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