b. 1895 d. 1920
George Gipp was the first All American football player in the storied history of Notre Dame. In his four years at Notre Dame, Gipp ran for more than 2300 yards, passed for more than 1700, and excelled on defense. He died of pneumonia during his senior year at Notre Dame -- two weeks before he was named an All American.
Gipp was immortalized in American folklore by the 1940 movie Knute Rockne, All American. In the film, a young Ronald Reagan plays Gipp and on his deathbed tells his coach to one day have his teammates "win just one for the Gipper." Nearly 10 years later, with Notre Dame losing to a strong Army team at halftime, coach Rockne tells his players the dying request of George Gipp -- and the players respond by crushing Army in the second half and winning one for the Gipper.
Gipp grew up in Laurium, Michigan where he was a star athlete -- but he never played high school football. Gipp actually went to Notre Dame on a baseball scholarship. Rockne saw him playing around with a football on campus one day and convinced him to come out for the football team.
Gipp has been named to the Michigan Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. Both Notre Dame University and his hometown of Laurium have memorials to him.