Jammie Kirlew, most interesting man in college football part 1


By Paul M. Banks

“He lives vicariously through himself.” “Parties are thrown honoring his parties.” “He’ll never start a conversation with you about the weather- even in a typhoon.” “He is…the most interesting man in the world.” These are familiar lines from a popular Mexican beer advertising campaign. Indiana Defensive End Jammie Kirlew may be college football’s real life version of this fictional character- or at least the closest thing to it.

When you meet a player with which you can discuss topics such as Italian Renaissance art, the development of international cultures throughout history, enacting social change via grassroots political action, the art of cinema, and much more it’s quite a refreshing experience. Especially if you spend  a lot of time hearing the same 11 phrases each week. raphael_marriage_of_the_virgin

Oh and he’s pretty good at football too. Kirlew was selected first team All-Big Ten by numerous outlets, and rated the eighth-best defensive end in the country by one of them. He was also one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award and winner of the team’s MVP Award. He’s also an Academic All-Big Ten selection and finds himself on track to repeat all these honors and more this year. Heading into this week’s match-up at Northwestern’s Homecoming, Kirlew leads his team in sacks, tackles for losses, yards lost from TFLs, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. If he played at a program that had any football tradition at all, he’d probably get well deserved All-American consideration.

This season, I had a very intellectual conversation him. I started by asking him about his study abroad trip to Florence, Italy. “You can just see from my face right now, great memories from that trip. I think the most amazing thing was when I took {the class} Florence Renaissance in Italian. I’m a little rusty now, but it was great to be able to communicate with the people and speak the language. Learning about the history of these great monuments, sculptures and paintings. Reading in a book and then going the next day and seeing the real thing in a cathedral was one of the many amazing aspects of the trip,” Kirlew said.

He and his classmates were based in Florence, but visited Venice, Rome and even Barcelona, Spain on the weekends. duomoflorenceI gave my impressions of Florence, bringing up how much I enjoyed the “walkability” of the city. “I really liked that too. It wasn’t all cars driving through everywhere the whole time. You had people walking through, especially at lunch time when all the stores just shut down for about three hours, and people just relax and enjoy their food. They want you to stay as long as you like. You don’t have to pay your check right away, you can relax and enjoy your food, it was nice,” Kirlew stated.

It was thought-provoking and inspiring for Kirlew, who articulated what he learned about the Renaissance and its contributions to the development of our global culture. “The changes in the paintings, the changes in painting styles over time, the detail- that was my biggest thing in learning about other cultures. And that really opens your eyes to see the world in a different light.”