News of Heisman Trophy winner Dick Kazmaier ’52’s death last week prompted tributes from several alumni and sports journalists.
New Yorker writer and Princeton professor John McPhee ’53, a close friend and former roommate of Kazmaier, said that the former football star’s “strongest characteristic was loyalty and his greatest talent was friendship,” according to the Associated Press.
The athletic communications office’s TigerBlog highlighted Kazmaier’s modest manner: “When you’re the only Heisman Trophy winner in the long history of a football program and you had the kind of [football] career that Kazmaier had, you naturally have a bit of ‘that’s him, that’s the one’ celebrity about you. Kazmaier wanted no part of that.”
Director of Athletics Gary Walters ’67 spoke about Kazmaier’s wisdom and humility in a statement on GoPrincetonTigers.com:
“Notwithstanding all of the achievements in his athletic, business, and philanthropic endeavors, Dick remained one of the most self-effacing individuals I have ever met. He never sought the spotlight and always led in a thoughtful and ethical manner.
“Indeed, Dick was also the father of six daughters and he became a major force behind the scenes as he helped to implement the Title IX Legislation that was passed in 1972 in order to provide equal competitive opportunities for women in college.
“As is the case with many of his Princeton friends, Dick was a personal mentor and advisor for me in my role as Athletic Director; and I will miss him dearly as a friend.”
Update: NPR’s Frank Deford ’61 devoted his Aug. 7 commentary to Kazmaier, “a honey of a guy.”
Others shared their praise via Twitter (below), including Dean Cain ’88, the actor and former Tiger football star; sports executive and former Tiger basketball standout Steve Mills ’81; College Hockey Inc.’s Nate Ewell ’96, whose father, Bob, coached Patty Kazmaier ’86 at Princeton; Chris Fowler, a broadcaster and co-host of ESPN’s College GameDay; and Dana O’Neil, an ESPN columnist who covers college sports.
RIP Dick Kazmaier Princeton ’52. A giant of a man.
— Dean Cain (@RealDeanCain) August 2, 2013
— steve mills (@scmills) August 2, 2013
— Nate Ewell (@nateewell) August 2, 2013
I’m sad to hear of Dick Kazmaier’s death. Princeton’s ’51 Heisman winner was a classy,loyal member of that fraternity. A wonderful guy.
— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) August 2, 2013
The college football world lost a great athlete, a better man and a true gentleman in Dick Kazmaier.
— Dana O’Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) August 2, 2013