“Damn homie. In high school you was the man homie. WTF happened to you?” – Curtis 50 cent Jackson
This Saturday Cam Newton will win the Heisman trophy award. I cannot imagine this will come as a surprise to anyone that has been following college football this season. Cam has been spectacular when his team needed him the most, leading Auburn to an undefeated regular season and five come from behind victories. No word on if his “contract” with Auburn was incentive laden, but knowing how his father negotiates, I would imagine he would at least get a couple free lap dances and from row seats to see the Blue men on his next trip to Vegas.
The Heisman trophy is strictly a college award. I totally get that, and cherish it for that. It is a reward to the most outstanding college player of that season. It is not supposed to be a career based reward nor a precursor to professional success. It simply is about one player, and one season. It is arguably the most prestigious award in all of team sports.
So it is clear to everyone, and let it never be debated again: The Heisman award has no effect on how a player will perform at the next level. This is not the most likely to achieve award. That is not about projecting future accomplishments. This is rather like being named the homecoming king in high school. That award is about the now. The right now!
It doesn’t matter that that same “king” will drop out of Random State University after developing a meth habit his sophomore year, after being put on probation for stealing his suitemate’s laptop, after being thrown out of the dorms for urinating in his RA’s pillow cases. All that matters is that the homecoming king for the class of (insert year) is banging the most cheerleaders right now. So what he will be living in his parents basement in a couple of years, smoking weed by the dryer machine trying to drown out the smell of hemp with Bounty fabric softener sheets, bragging to buddies while washing dishes at Rams Horn about how he engineered the come back victory vs. his teams arch rival. As of today, he is the man! It’s about the right now.
I am not necessarily arguing that these selected players shouldn’t have won the Heisman trophy. That is for another blog article. I am simply listing that the day they got their name put on the trophy was the start of the end for them. That they went on to be trash in the NFL, and the only positive remarks about their career will be connected with that trophy for the rest of their lives. Kind of like when a bad actor some how wins an Oscar award. Their life will never get any better as soon as the music plays telling them to stop crying and STFU and get off stage. They will always have that statue and it will the only thing that ever identifies them with success again. And they are introduced for the rest of their life as Academy award winner Mira Sorvino.
I started in 1978 because that was the first year that I really started following the award. I was 6 years old and my mom’s side of the family is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. So they were always rooting for the Sooners. That year a flamboyant running back, with an Afro the size of Texas, won the Heisman award. His name was Billy Sims. He was then drafted by the Detroit Lions and promptly had to be talked out of suicide.
To the list:
1) GINO TORRETTA: Miami Hurricanes 1992
This guy shouldn’t have even bothered trying out for the NFL and just started doing ESPN radio, or studio work local Miami affiliate. The Canes have a long tradition of excellent NFL QB’s like Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar etc but even a high schooler like me knew Torretta had absolutely zero NFL future. He was a 7th round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings, where he never attempted a pass. In 1996 he attempted 16 passes for the Seattle Seahawks, completing 5 of them for paltry 41 yards. HE did however throw 1 touchdown. Those are his career stats. As in for his entire professional tenure.
2) RASHAAN SALAAM:RColorado Buffalos 1994
Wow. What else can I say? Him winning the Heisman is like the year Michael Olawakandi went #1 to the Clippers. I mean regardless of how the season plays out someone HAS to win the award right? He was nice at Colorado don’t get me wrong but a first round pick? The Chicago Bears wasted the 21st pick of the 1995 draft on this soon to be bust.
His running style gave little reason to think he could be a feature back in the NFL. He ran upright, displayed average at best field vision, and was almost never used as a receiver at Colorado. Salaam lasted only 3 years with the Bears starting 21 games. Amazingly he had over 1,000 yards as a rookie, but never did didley afterwards. His 4th and final season was with the Cleveland Browns where he only appeared in 2 games. Cleveland truly is the place where dreams die.
3) ERIC CROUCH: Nebraska 2001
He is quite possibly the worst Heisman Trophy winner of my lifetime. I remember him catching that double reverse pass against Oklahoma and that is about it. Yeah he put up some sold rushing stats in the option offense, but I also remember him and his Nebraska team getting assaulted by the U in the 2001 Rose Bowl.
He has absolutely zero NFL stats because he turned down the opportunity to play with the St Louis Rams as slot receiver/return man. Not only was that shocking, because his speed and quickness could have made him the first Wes Welker, but he walked away from football for really no reason. Not a religious preference, or to serve his country in war, but to sell insurance? He was last seen fixing pinball machines in suburban Lincoln Nebraska.
4) ANDRE WARE: Houston Cougars 1989
The Lions in the 1st round drafted Andre and his high top fade. You knew right there he would suck. And he didn’t disappoint. Coming from a system where you throw 500 bubble screens a game, only the Lions expected him to be able to read defenses. He was a total flop as an NFL player. He lasted a mere 4 seasons, starting a total of 6 games as a Lion. He threw 5 touchdowns and 8 picks. Oh and did I mention the Lions had Barry freaking Sanders at the time? I mean we wasted an all time greats prime years trying to develop this douche bag into a legit NFL quarterback. Only the Lions do stuff like that.
Andre can now currently be seen broadcasting games on ESPN 4.
5) JASON WHITE: Oklahoma Sooners 2003
Who? Exactly. This guy was maybe the most non-descript Heisman winning QB ever. He could rob a 7-11 with no mask in Norman and still not be picked out of a line up of Guatemalan midgets. I cannot remember one thing about him except for he threw a pick 6 to a nose guard in the national championship game against LSU. Unless he cures Brain cancer, or emerges as a Tea Party candidate he will never be heard from again.
6) DANNY WUERFFUL: Florida Gators 1996
He was one of the greatest college football players I have ever seen. He was the original Tebow. The god fearing leader of the Gator nation. He threw like a broad but man was he accurate. What he did to Florida State in the 96 national championship game was surgical. Its funny because Spurrier has had dozens of QB’s more physically gifted than Wuerfful but he has never found a trigger man quite like him again. His anticipation, and soft touch let him get rid of the ball on time, and compensate for his lack everything else. Having said all of that we all knew he would be a Florida evangelist shortly after his career was done in the swamp. The NFL simply would eat him a live. And it did.
His National Football League career started with being drafted in the fourth round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. After playing six seasons in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, and Washington Redskins, Wuerffel retired. One highlight of his professional career was winning the MVP award in World Bowl 2000 while playing for Rhein Fire in NFL Europe.
7) CHARLES WHITE: USC 1979
I will never forget this guy. He is the 1st player I ever saw score a touchdown without the ball. In the 1979 Rose Bowl he fumbled at the 5 while being tackled, yet the referee still ruled it a touchdown. Even the old school black and white crappy replay showed that he clearly fumbled WELL before crossing the goal line. I was 7 years old and the only other time I have been more mad at a sporting event was when Desmond Howard got tripped in the end zone on a two point conversion vs. Sparty and it went un called, and when Rasheed Wallace left Robert Horry wide open for a 3 pointer up t 2 points in the NBA finals.
I rooted against Charles White in all aspects of life ever since that play. Yes I realize what that says about me as a person.
He was a 1st round pick on the Browns in 1980 where he didn’t do jack $&it till he ended up on the Rams with his old college coach John Robinson. He had one 1,000 yard season, in 1987, that was followed up by a more typical 300 yard outburst for him the following year. He finished his illustrious pro career with 23 rushing touchdowns and 27 fumbles (called).
8) TY DETMER: BYU Cougars 1990
Ty was a beast at BYU. He earned his Heisman trophy by throwing till his arm almost became detached form his shoulder. The bowl game before his Heisman winning campaign he threw for 576 yards vs. Penn State in the Holiday Bowl. So heading into his junior season the stage was set for him to explode!
Detmer’s junior season (1990) ranks as one of the greatest seasons for a quarterback in college football history. Detmer passed for 5,188 yards and 41 touchdowns in 12 regular season games, and finished the year with 42 NCAA records (and tied for five others). The highpoint of the season was BYU’s 28-21 upset victory over top-ranked Miami (FL); Detmer led the Cougars by passing for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns against the defending national champions.
But in the NFL he was nothing more than a solid back up. Although his career numbers would put him in Canton compared to some of the other players on this list, he still only had one good NFL season, with the Eagles in 1996 going 7-4 as a starter. He backed up Favre in Green Bay early in his career and ended it with 1 year stints in Cleveland and San Fran. He only started a couple of games there in fill in duty. Not a bad career all things considered, but when you are the most prolific passer in the history of college football, well the expectations are raised a little bit.
9) TROY SMITH: O$U 2006
Troy still has some time to turn his NFL career around. And he has some tools to work with, but to this point the O$U “graduate” has proven little in the Big Boy league. Coming off a bowl performance that saw his Buckeyes only muster 91 yards of total offense for an entire game, Troy sat the bench in B more, and is now platooning in San Francisco with mega disappointment Alex Smith. I think if given the right opportunity he can resurrect his professional career.
10) MATT LIENHART: USC 2004
Matt basically played with NFL talent while he was in college at USC. And apparently they got paid like NFL players as well. So when he got drafted into the NFL and the talent on opposing teams was equal to that he was playing with he pretty much sucked. He lacks ideal arm strength or accuracy to be a starting NFL QB. You never want to say never, with guys like Jim Plunkett or Kurt Warner who struggled early in their careers only to win MVP’s, but it looks like Matt is a flop.
He is currently the 3rd string QB for the Houston Texans and this off season will look to land somewhere he can compete for a starting spot. The scary thing is there are quite a few spots that he probably could play.
11) CHRIS WIENKE: Florida State 2000
Dude was like 30 in college. Every college campus has the older students that exchange gas money for buying beer, but not often is that old guy a Heisman winner. In fact when he won the award, he was older than the previous 6 winners. Rarely is the starting QB on college football team on Rogaine. Chris Wienke was so old when he played at Florida State that Bobby Bowden actually remembers him and called him by his name.
When the Carolina Panthers drafted him you knew he had a small window of success because he was older than a couple of the assistant coaches on the staff. He only lasted 5 years in the NFL, 4 with the Panthers, before retiring and going straight to social security. He can now be seen doing Extenze commercials with Jimmy Johnson, on regional Florida Fox sports affiliates.