Paul Giel, a native of Winona, Minn., was an All-America in two sports — baseball and football — during his University of Minnesota athletic career.
In football, he was a two-time All-America halfback and Big Ten Most Valuable Player. In 1953, he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Notre Dame's Johnny Lattner. Even though he didn't win the Heisman in 1953, he was named United Press International's college player of the year and Associated Press back of the year.
One of the highlights of Giel's Gophers football career was the Gophers' 22-0 victory over No. 5-ranked Michigan on Oct. 24, 1953. Giel rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries, completed 13 of 18 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown pass, returned four punts and one kickoff for 59 yards. He also intercepted two passes as the Gophers earned their first victory over Michigan in 11 years. His 53 offensive plays set a Big Ten record.
Former Gopher football player Sig Harris, who spent 15 years as an assistant Gophers coach, told the Minneapolis Tribune after the game, "I never saw anyone ever play better offensively and defensively that Paul Giel."
In his three seasons with the Gophers football team, Giel ran or passed for 4,110 yards and 35 touchdowns.
As a pitcher for the Gophers baseball team, he won 21 games in three seasons. As a senior in 1954, Giel was named All-America.
Giel was selected in the in the ninth round of the 1954 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears and also received an offer to play in the Canadian Football League. Giel chose to play professional baseball and in 1954 signed a contract with the New York Giants. His signing bonus of $60,000 was the largest the Giants had given to that point. Over the next seven years, he pitched for four major league teams, including the Minnesota Twins in 1961.
Following his playing career, he worked as the business manager for the Minnesota Vikings for two years before serving as the sports director at WCCO radio for eight years.
In January of 1972, he was named the athletic director at the University of Minnesota. He held that position for 18 years.
"He was a legend," Gophers athletic director Tom Moe told the Star Tribune in 2002. "He was a legend. Everybody talks about his tremendous athletic achievements, and they're well-known -- an All-America in two sports, a near-miss Heisman Trophy, played professional baseball -- but even more important than all of his athletic achievements, he was All-America as a person. I don't think I've ever known anyone who care more or who was more loyal to the University of Minnesota than Paul Giel."
Giel was inducted into the College Hall of Football Hall of Fame in 1975.
Sports: Baseball, football.