Former Wolverine Runyan Honored with Big Ten Leadership Award
Jon Runyan

Nov. 21, 2012

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Former University of Michigan football offensive lineman and Flint, Mich., native Jon Runyan was named today (Wednesday, Nov. 21) as the 2012 recipient of the Big Ten Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award. The award, which recognizes a Big Ten football player who has achieved success in the area of leadership after his college career has ended, is named for Michigan's Gerald Ford and Iowa's Nile Kinnick.

A member of Michigan's 1993 Rose Bowl winning team and a first-team All-Big Ten offensive tackle in 1995, Runyan sits on the U.S. House of Representatives (R-N.J.) and currently serves on the Tactical Air and Land, and Readiness subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee. Following his Michigan career, Runyan was drafted by the National Football League's Houston Oilers and played 14 seasons with Houston/Tennessee, Philadelphia and San Diego.

During his NFL career, in which he started 192 of 207 career games and appeared in two Super Bowls, Runyan was actively involved in several community service initiatives, including the New Jersey Special Olympics, the American Red Cross, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. The fourth NFL player to be elected to Congress, Runyan also served on the Board of the Alzheimer's Association of the Delaware Valley and hosted the "Score for the Cure" golf tournament to benefit prostate cancer research in New Jersey.

"I am truly honored to receive the 2012 Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award," said Runyan. "I want to thank the Big Ten Conference for this award named after one of the University of Michigan's most distinguished alumni, President Gerald Ford. While attending the University of Michigan, I learned the core principles and values that have served as the foundation of my career and ultimately led to the privilege of serving in United States Congress. I deeply appreciate this honor."

Ford, the 38th President of the United States, was a gridiron standout for the Wolverines in the 1930s. A three-year letterman (1932-34) as a center and linebacker, he was an integral member of Big Ten and national championship teams in 1932 and 1933. A Grand Rapids, Mich., native, Ford was selected as the team's Most Valuable Player in 1934. After turning down professional contract offers to play for the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, Ford entered a career in politics. In April 1981, Ford opened the Gerald R. Ford Library on U-M's North Campus, and in 1999 the University renamed its world-renowned School of Public Policy after Ford. On Oct. 13, 2012, Ford officially was recognized as a Michigan Football Legend during a pregame ceremony at the Michigan-Illinois football game.

Kinnick, a halfback at Iowa from 1937-39, was a two-time All-Big Ten performer and the winner of the 1939 Heisman Trophy and Walter Camp and Maxwell awards. After graduating with a 3.4 grade-point average, Kinnick enrolled in law school before enlisting in the Naval Air Corps Reserves and was called to active duty just three days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. In June 1943, Kinnick died after his fighter plane crashed into the Caribbean Sea. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame's inaugural class in 1951, while Iowa Stadium was renamed Kinnick Stadium in 1972.

Media Contact: Justin Dickens (734) 763-4423

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