Frank “Bruiser” Kinard

(1914–1985) Athlete

Frank M. “Bruiser” Kinard played offensive and defensive tackle for the University of Mississippi football team from 1935 to 1937. Kinard became the school’s first all-American athlete, and his play with Brooklyn Dodgers of the National Football League (NFL) and the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) made him a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Born outside Jackson in Pelahatchie, Mississippi, on 23 October 1914, Kinard earned the nickname Bruiser as a punishing tackler and blocker at Jackson Central High School. After graduating in 1933, Kinard briefly attended the University of Alabama but left because Coach Frank Thomas did not like coaching married players. Kinard and his wife, Midge, then moved to Oxford, where he enrolled at the University of Mississippi.

Kinard helped establish the school’s football team as a national powerhouse. In the final regular-season game of the 1935 season, Kinard led the Rebel defense in a dominating effort against rival Mississippi State, penetrating the Bulldog backfield and ending plays before they could begin. The 14–6 victory helped earn the University of Mississippi its first postseason bowl invitation.

Though the University of Mississippi recorded a disappointing 5–5–2 finish in 1936, Kinard impressed sportswriters and coaches and earned all–Southeastern Conference and all-America honors at the end of the season. In 1937 Kinard served as team captain, closing out his college career with repeat selections to the all–Southeastern Conference and all-America teams.

In 1938 Kinard began his professional career with the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers. Kinard’s size (around two hundred pounds) made him small for an NFL tackle, but he more than compensated with his speed, durability, and aggressiveness. As in college, Kinard played both offense and defense, and he missed time because of injuries only once. Kinard earned all-NFL honors for Brooklyn five times between 1938 and 1944. After a brief stint in the US Navy during 1945, Kinard played two more years for the New York Yankees of the new and short-lived AAFC. In 1946 Kinard became the first player to have earned both all-NFL and all-AAFC honors.

Kinard retired from professional football in 1948 and returned to the University of Mississippi as an assistant to Coach John Vaught. Kinard remained in the position until 1970 and helped to oversee some of its most successful teams in the school’s football history. He then served as the university’s athletic director until 1973.

Kinard won election as a charter member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Further Reading

  • W. G. Barner, Mississippi Mayhem: A Game-by-Game History of the Ole Miss–Mississippi State Football Rivalry, 1901–1980 (1982)
  • Jackson Clarion-Ledger (8 September 1985)
  • New York Times (9 September 1985)
  • William M. Sorrels and Charles Cavagnaro, Ole Miss Rebels: Mississippi Football (1976)

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Frank “Bruiser” Kinard
  • Coverage 1914–1985
  • Author
  • Website Name Mississippi Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date April 3, 2020
  • Publisher Center for Study of Southern Culture
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 14, 2018