Q&A with Bill Daley

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October 18, 2004 // UPDATED 4:24 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Britt Johnsen
Britt Johnsen

Curator and Gopher Hall of Famer

1300 Nicollet Mall

He claims to have "bumbled and fumbled" through his education degree at the University of Minnesota, but Bill Daley, an 85-year-old Melrose, Minn. native, was inducted into the Gopher Sports Hall of Fame Sept. 23. He was a member of the U's National Championship team in 1940 and 1941 and an All-American running back in 1942. As a Marine trainee, he was a 1943 All-American for Michigan, where he was stationed. He is the only player ever to win the Little Brown Jug as both a Gopher and a Wolverine.

Daley also happens to be a curator for Downtown's Daley Illustration Gallery, 1300 Nicollet Mall. The art gallery contains a combination of pin-up girl, science fiction and other types of art. Between making comments about his wife's and a reporter's weight -- his way of expressing humor, perhaps -- Daley talked about his accomplishments in football and art.

Q: Tell me a little bit about your induction. How did this come about?

A: Watching [University of Chicago running back and first-ever Heisman Trophy winner Jay] Berwanger play, watching the [University of] Minnesota band, the cheerleaders and the tremendous crowd noise thrilled me. I didn't think I was good enough to go to the University because nobody told me how great I was. I called up the track coach at the University of Minnesota, and they let me in to the football team. We were undefeated in 1940 and 1941. How the hell I'll get into the Hall of Fame, I'll be goddamned if I know.

Q: What is it about art that thrills you the same way football does?

A: I always liked art. I was intrigued by it, but I didn't have any talent to do anything with it. When I see art, it does something. You either like it or you don't.

Q: How do football and art relate in your life?

A: I was a great football player. The guys that were playing in defense would have acknowledged it. [Some would say] "What the hell does a stupid football player know about art?" I always wanted to be an artist, but you need talent to be an artist. In either case, you should have some talent. You usually are born with it.

Q: How do you find your talents?

A: It's like going to work; either you're producing or you're not working. You either have to perform, or it's a rather rigorous schedule. That's why you have to have talent. It's like a good artist: if a good artist produces something, they'll buy his paintings. If he's not very good, they won't buy their paintings.