George Flippin was once described by Lincoln Star sports editor Cy Sherman as a "charged bull, into which was bred the tenacity of the bulldog, the ferocity of the tiger and the gameness of the man who knows no fear."
Illinois found that out firsthand in 1892. After the halfback scored the lone touchdown in Nebraska’s 6-0 victory, an Illinois lineman struck an NU player at the end of the game. A fan recalled Flippin jumping forward and knocking down two or three of the Illinois players.
Nebraska had played just one season — and two games — when Flippin became NU’s first black athlete, in 1891. He lettered in his final three seasons (no letter winners were historically documented from the 1891 team). At the time, he was only the fifth black athlete nationally at a predominantly white university. NU later banned blacks from athletic competition from 1917 until the late 1940s.
In addition to playing football and basketball, Flippin set NU records in track and field (shot put, hammer throw) and won championships as a wrestler. He was big for his time in football, a 6-foot-2 200-pounder coming out of the backfield. He also played defensive tackle for NU.
In 1893, Flippin starred in a near-blizzard in Omaha as Nebraska edged Iowa 20-18. In his final season at NU, Flippin scored the clinching touchdown in a 12-6 victory at Kansas.
NU’s star player was set to become the team’s captain before deciding not to return. Flippin instead announced that he was going to attend a medical school in Chicago. He and his father later opened the first hospital in Stromsburg.
Flippin, the son of freed slaves, was born in Port Isabelle, Ohio, in 1868. His family relocated to Kansas when he was 3, following his mother’s death, then later moved to Henderson, Nebraska.
He was voted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1974, 45 years after his death at age 61. In 2015, Flippin was inducted into the Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame.
Played for: Nebraska
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Flippin's teams at Nebraska included guard W.W. Wilson and quarterback E.O. Pace.
Best moment as an athlete: Records are sketchy, but Nebraska's 6-0 victory over Illinois in 1892 stands out. In NU's first game against a "big-time" opponent, Flippin had a 25-yard run, recovered a fumble and later scored the only touchdown.
Flippin was No. 96 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »