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John Cappelletti named "Big Ten Icon" No. 16

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Penn State's Heisman Trophy winner to be profiled at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 12

Penn State’s John Cappelletti has been named Big Ten Icon No. 16. The countdown of Big Ten Icons, presented by Discover, continues at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 12, with a profile of the 1973 Heisman Trophy winner.

New episodes of the 20-episode series, hosted by legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson, debut at 9 p.m. ET every Tuesday night through the end of football season and into the spring.

Cappelletti began his Penn State career on defense, with the running game led by future Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell. When his time came, the native of Upper Darby, Pa. was a workhorse tailback for Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions. As a senior, the year he took home college football’s top individual prize, Cappelletti carried for 1,522 yards and 17 touchdowns. He ran for more than 200 yards in three straight games, an NCAA record at the time, and helped Penn State complete a perfect 12-0 season with a win over LSU in the 1974 Orange Bowl.

In addition to earning the 1973 Heisman Trophy, Cappelletti was the recipient of the Maxwell Trophy and the Walter Camp Player of the Year. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame in 1993.

Cappelletti will forever remembered for his emotional speech in accepting the 1973 Heisman Trophy, when he stated that he wanted to give the trophy to his younger brother, Joey, who was battling leukemia. Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET, immediately following the Cappelletti episode of Big Ten Icons, the Big Ten Network will air the 1977 television movie, “Something for Joey,” about the special relationship between John and Joey Cappelletti.

In an essay for www.BigTenIcons.com, former Chicago Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath wrote, “The speech he gave when he accepted the award on Dec. 13, 1973, remains the most memorable in the Heisman’s 75-year history.” To read the full essay and to watch a video feature on Cappelletti, visit his Big Ten Icons locker at www.BigTenIcons.com.

In the episode, Paterno says, “John Cappelletti was an outstanding football player, was a great guy to coach and was a great asset to his family.” Nittany Lion teammate Mark Markovich says, “The bond that he felt with his brother Joey and the inspiration he provided him just came out in a fashion that was so innocent – so wonderful and so touching – that we just sat there in awe.”

Cappelletti was a first round draft choice of the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams and played six years with the Rams and four seasons with the San Diego Chargers.

Cappelletti is the fifth former Penn State student-athlete to be selected a Big Ten Icon, joining gridiron standouts Jack Ham (No. 22), Curt Warner (No. 42) and LaVar Arrington (No. 46) and women’s volleyball National Player of the Year, Megan Hodge (No. 49).

The No. 1 Big Ten Icon will be revealed around the 2011 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament. Big Ten Icons is the network’s most ambitious multi-platform initiative to date. The program is counting down the top 50 student-athletes in Big Ten history, based solely on their collegiate playing careers. All student-athletes from current Big Ten schools are eligible for the network’s list, even if they did not personally play in the Big Ten.  Icons 50 through 21, listed below, were revealed at BigTenIcons.com.

Fans can visit www.BigTenIcons.com to see a complete roster of Big Ten Icons, which also features essays, video and other key facts about each Icon’s career. Viewers can also participate in the “Talk of the Locker Room” contest with a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. Weekly winners will take home a 55-inch Philips HD television.

Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said the series will engage and spark conversation among sports fans everywhere. “What will make Big Ten Icons stand out is the depth of the storytelling,” he said. “The rankings themselves are sure to generate quite a bit of discussion.”

No. 50 Tom Brands, Iowa wrestling  (1989-92)
No. 49 Megan Hodge, Penn State volleyball (2006-09)
No. 48 Drew Brees, Purdue football (1997-2000)
No. 47 Chris Spielman, Ohio State football (1984-87)
No. 46 LaVar Arrington, Penn State football (1997-99)
No. 45 Rod Woodson, Purdue football (1983-86)
No. 44 George Halas, Illinois football (1916-18)
No. 43 Chuck Long, Iowa football (1981-85)
No. 42 Curt Warner, Penn State football (1979-82)
No. 41 Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern football (1993-96)
No. 40 Bobby Bell, Minnesota football (1960-62)
No. 39 Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, Ohio State football (1953-55)
No. 38 Calbert Cheaney, Indiana basketball (1989-93)
No. 37 Leroy Keyes, Purdue football (1966-68)
No. 36 Jim Abbott, Michigan baseball (1985-88)
No. 35 Glenn Robinson, Purdue basketball (1992-94)
No. 34 Desmond Howard, Michigan football (1989-91)
No. 33 Alex Karras, Iowa football (1955-57)
No. 32 Scott May, Indiana basketball (1973-76)
No. 31 Neal Broten, Minnesota hockey (1979-81)
No. 30 Alan Ameche, Wisconsin football (1951-54)
No. 29 Cazzie Russell, Michigan basketball (1964-66)
No. 28 Quinn Buckner, Indiana basketball (1972-76)
No. 27 Glen Rice, Michigan basketball (1986-89)
No. 26 Bubba Smith, Michigan State football (1964-66)
No. 25 Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, Michigan and Wisconsin football (1942-46)
No. 24 Anthony Carter, Michigan football (1979-82)
No. 23 Bob Griese, Purdue football (1964-66)
No. 22 Jack Ham, Penn State football (1968-70)
No. 21  Bronko Nagurski, Minnesota football (1927-29)
No. 20 Charles Woodson, Michigan football (1995-97)
No. 19 Suzy Favor Hamilton, Wisconsin track and field (1987-91)
No. 18 Jack Nicklaus, Ohio State golf (1959-61)
No. 17 Steve Alford, Indiana basketball (1983-87)
No. 16 John Cappelletti, Penn State football (1971-74)
No. 15 Announced Tuesday at the conclusion of Big Ten Icons No. 17 episode

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