John McGovern, an Arlington, Minn., native, didn't let his size keep him from being one of the top University of Minnesota football players of the early 20th century.
The 5-foot-9, 155-pound McGovern was the quarterback of the Gophers in 1908, 1909 and 1910. He was a durable player on both sides of the ball, missing just one game in those three seasons. He was also an accurate kicker for the teams coached by Dr. Henry L. Williams.
In 1909 he was named a consensus All-America and All-Big Ten. He was also named All-Big Ten in 1910. The Gophers were 6-1 in 1909 and 1910 — with the only losses coming to Michigan. The Gophers were the Western Conference champion in 1909 and the co-champion in 1910.
McGovern also wrestled for the Gophers.
The Minneapolis Tribune wrote in 1963, "Sportswriters often told how (McGovern) almost missed being named All-American. In 1909, he was on his way to being selected when he suffered a broken collarbone in a game with Chicago. The break was far from healed for the final game of the season, with Michigan. Fearing his place on the All-American team might not be attained, he begged his coach to let him play. The coach did."
After graduating from the University with a law degree, he turned down an offer to play professional baseball. McGovern coached football at Macalester College in St. Paul for several seasons. He turned down offers to coach at several Division I programs.
He served on a submarine during World War I, before returning to Minneapolis. During the 1920s, he worked as the sports editor of the Minneapolis Journal and broadcast Gophers football games on the radio.
While practicing law in Washington, D.C., in the late 1930s he was elected president of the Washington Touchdown Club.
Sport: Football, wrestling.