Golden Gophers Donnell Kirkwood returning this week vs NU?

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“You have to be finesse, it’s everything war is, just without a gun and bullets. And I think that’s what I like about it,” Donnell Kirkwood said about the game he plays.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers running back was by far the best interview at Big Ten football Media Day.

He was so good that he was also the second, third and fourth best interview at this college football media day. And perhaps he’ll make his return this Saturday for Minnesota. Kirkwood and the Gophers head to Northwestern for an 11 AM Saturday kickoff. If he plays, it will be Kirkwood’s first Big Ten action this season.

As I’ve chronicled here in detail, Football is a game, but it is also a metaphor for war; its roots and history show it originated as a stand-in for military service. There are jingoistic and militaristic traditions football has that other sports lack; the specific offensive and defensive-minded lingo, manipulation of lines and forces with supplemental strategic reinforcements that mirror the planning generals do for battle.

And of course, here’s the famous George Carlin bit along those lines:

Donnell Kirkwood led the Gophers with 926 rushing yards and had a career-high 152 yards, including a career-long 38-yard run, at Illinois. He’s carried the ball 249 straight times without turning it over.

“In the third year (of a new coach) you find out that guy over there is on the front line in the war with his players,” Kirkwood said when I asked him about the evolution of the Jerry Kill regime.

“It’s like he has a helmet and shoulder pads on with you. It’s hard not to fight for somebody like that.”

And I guess the football=war metaphor works even better when your coach is named Jerry Kill.

“It’s a gladiator sport,” Donnell Kirkwood continued.

“I’m a gladiator when I’m out there and I tell people football is the greatest team sport ever invented. You have emotion, you have anger, you have to be calm, you have to be smart.”


Of course, it’s the ground attack, not the aerial assault for Donnell Kirkwood and Minnesota. Gophers are known to make their living within the ground, the MN program is known for their history of running backs, not receivers and passers. And Donnell Kirkwood said before that he doesn’t like flying all that much.

So he’d have to be in the Army or Marines, not the Air Force.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, a Fox Sports affiliate. He is also an analyst for 95.7 The Fan, and writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows his Twitter account (@PaulMBanks)

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