It wasn't unusual that Heisman winners wore some special equipment to guard them against the trial and tribulations of the afternoons on the gridiron. The first winner, Jay Berwanger, wore a mask to protect a broken nose and was called "The Man In the Iron Mask" while Larry Kelley donned a special shoulder pad. Frank Sinkwich drew national attention in 1941 with a helmet that featured a jaw protector, as he had broken his jaw early that year.
Jay Berwanger's days at the University of Chicago were as even as possible. His teams won 10, lost 10 and tied two in three years. Berwanger's run against Ohio State in 1935, it is claimed, was the wildest of all in football's history. He ran 70 yards for a touchdown but reversed his field four times and was almost run out of bounds on opposite sides of the field.
The man who finished third in the 1935 voting, William Shakespeare of Notre Dame and Staten Island, NY, also was in a game many consider to be the best of them all, when the Irish came back in the last quarter to beat Ohio State, 18-13. Shakespeare passed for the winning touchdown.
Much was made in 1986 of Gordon Lockbaum of Holy Cross playing both ways. Noted Jay Berwanger, "We all played both ways back in the '30s. Playing defense," says the first Heisman winner, "was fun."
In 1936, two premier players were down on the list in the voting, as Sammy Baugh of Texas Christian finished fourth and Ace Parker of Duke was sixth. Baugh had a grand career with Washington in pro football as did Parker with the old Brooklyn Dodgers. Parker also played major league baseball with Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's. Never injured in football, Parker broke his leg twice playing baseball.
As was noted, virtually all of the early Heisman players were 60-minute men, which stood Yale's Clint Frank in good order for his military days a few years after his 1937 win. He was an aide to General Doolittle, the man who led the Tokyo raid in 1942.
TCU's Davey O'Brien, the smallest Heisman winner (5-5, 140), was the first to get an official reception by New York City as Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia greeted him on the steps of City Hall. Also in on the reception were New York mounted police officers to lend their horses in the proper Texas touch. O'Brien might have been impressed enough to go into police work himself as he entered the FBI after a stay with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Few New York college players pulled votes in the Heisman. Two Columbia quarterbacks came close. Sid Luckman was third in 1938, behind the delightful combination of O'Brien and Goldberg, (that's Marshall Goldberg of Pittsburgh, one of the game's best power runners). Paul Governali, also of Columbia, was second to Sinkwich in 1942. Incidentally, O'Brien was the first Heisman winner to play in a post-season bowl as his Horned Frog team won the Sugar Bowl over Carnegie Tech on January 1, 1939.
Nile Kinnick, one of several Heisman winners to also earn a Phi Beta Kappa key, was perhaps the last practitioner of one of football's lost arts, the drop-kick. In 1939, he scored a touchdown against Notre Dame in the final minutes and drop-kicked the extra point to win, 7-6, in a game famed announcer Bill Stern said was one of the most exciting he ever broadcasted. Kinnick played 402 consecutive minutes that year as part of Iowa's fabled "Iron Man" team. He won the AP's Athlete of the Year Award over such stalwarts as Joe DiMaggio and Joe Louis. Iowa's football stadium is named for him. A carrier pilot, he was killed in an air crash in 1943.
In 1940, Michigan's Tom Harmon was Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press. Following his college days he entered radio and made guest appearances on the Eddie Cantor and Bing Crosby shows. It was Bing who introduced Tom to his wife, actress Elyse Knox. Harmon was given the Silver Star in World War II service and survived two air crashes, one in French Guyana and another in China. His wife's wedding dress was made from the parachute he used in China. Harmon played pro football for two years with the Los Angeles Rams, something that few recall. He also made a movie, "Harmon of Michigan", and the same year one of the Heisman high point scorers, tiny Frankie Albert of Stanford, was also featured in a film as was Bruce Smith, the Heisman winner in 1941.
Bruce Smith was the subject of a book, "The Game Breaker". He received his trophy on December 9, 1941 and the ceremonies were interrupted by an air raid as the entire East Coast was alerted two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Smith, who did tremendous community service after World War II, was nominated for sainthood by Rev. William Cantwell. Smith, Harmon and Kinnick played against each other in the final years before the war, perhaps the only time that three Heisman winners were in one-on-one competition with each other.
In 1942, Frank Sinkwich did not receive a trophy as wartime restrictions precluded the use of metal. Downtown Athletic Club members were asked to contribute scrap metal to make one. Sinkwich and runner-up Paul Governali of Columbia received certificates. (This was the case throughout the war with all winners later receiving actual trophies.) Mike Holovak of Boston College received votes in 1942 and earlier, some votes went to fellow BC star Charley O'Rourke. It was over 40 years before another Boston College player received votes and he received enough to win, Doug Flutie.
In 1943, Angelo Bertelli could not make the trophy presentation in early December due to Marine Corps training. He came to New York on January 12, 1944 for the trophy ceremony. Two years later a similar situation delayed the trophy presentation to West Point's Doc Blanchard. Bob Odell, Penn's defensive back, ran second to Bertelli, one of the few times a defensive player ranked that high. Notre Dame's Creighton Miller and Jim White finished in the top 10 point scores behind teammate Bertelli.
Les Horvath, Heisman winner in 1944, is one of two dentists to be named a recipient. Billy Cannon of Louisiana State is the other.
Army's "Mr. Inside" and "Mr. Outside" took many honors along with the Heisman. Blanchard is the only man to win both the Heisman and the Sullivan Award, as America's best amateur athlete, and Davis was judged the best athlete in West Point history. Glenn was chased by the Brooklyn Dodgers for pro baseball but went to football with the Los Angeles Rams after military service. Blanchard did not play pro football, stayed in the service, was a jet pilot with tours of duty in Korea and Vietnam, and retired with the rank of colonel. Davis, who married actress Terry Moore, once was engaged to Elizabeth Taylor.
As with most Heisman winners, football was not their only sport in college. Notre Dame's John Lujack won four varsity letters in baseball, track, basketball and football. Lattner's teammate, Leon Hart, was the biggest man to win the Heisman but was not as big as once noted SMU's Kyle Rote who said, "Hart was eight feet tall and 350 pounds." Actually, he was about 6-5 and 260.
Vic Janowicz preceded Auburn's Bo Jackson as a major league baseball player. The Ohio State star was with the Pittsburgh Pirates for two years and also played several years with the Washington Redskins. He was the last player to go without a face mask, which he did until he broke his nose and lost a few teeth in a NFL battle. An auto crash later curtailed his playing career.
Princeton's Dick Kazmaier, like other Heisman winners, took more honors. In 1951, he was named Athlete of the Year over Stan Musial, Joe Walcott and Ben Hogan. He went on to graduate study and was Assistant Dean of the Harvard Business School. His daughters were active student-athletes and this influenced him to champion women's athletics. He was President of the U.S. Field Hockey Foundation.
Billy Vessels, the 1952 winner, was the first Heisman winner to play in the Canadian Football League. Nebraska's Johnny Rodgers, the 1972 winner, was the next man to go North, later to be followed by Doug Flutie, the 1984 winner, who was named the league's Most Valuable Player six times.
John Lattner of Notre Dame won in 1953 and was one of a few players to be named to an All-America rating as an offensive and defensive player.
They took Alan "The Horse" Ameche's nickname seriously in his hometown of Kenosha, WI. Celebrating his Heisman win, the home folks gave him many gifts, including a horse.
Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, his nickname from the fabled cowboy star of early TV, was also AP's Athlete of the Year in 1955. Cassady usually played only offense at Ohio State but through several years with the Detroit Lions he played both ways. He was the smallest Heisman winner after Davey O'Brien.
Notre Dame's Paul Hornung and Oklahoma's Billy Sims are the only Heisman winners not to lead in first place votes on the 3-2-1 basis of point scoring. Both, however, did well on first place votes and had enough second and third place votes to carry them through.
Army's Pete Dawkins, the 1958 winner, stayed in service and retired as a General. "Monk" Meyer, who was second to Berwanger in 1935, also retired as a general after long service.
In 1961, Ernie Davis became the first African-American player to win the Heisman. The great Syracuse star died all too early, succumbing to leukemia a year later.
The 1962 winner, Terry Baker of Oregon State, is the only Heisman winner to participate in the NCAA's fabled "Final Four" basketball championship as the Oregonians made it with Loyola of Illinois, Cincinnati and Ohio State.
Gary Beban and O.J. Simpson had a two-way fight for the Heisman in 1967 when they met for the national championship in the great Los Angeles crosstown rivalry of UCLA and Southern California. Beban won in 1967 and Simpson blew everyone away the next year. The real loser in those years was Purdue's Leroy Keyes, who rolled up a total of 2,468 points in two years but did not win. Any other time, Keyes would have won easily.
Steve Owens of Oklahoma took a pair of Heisman Trophy cuff links and made a nice trade. He swapped with President Richard Nixon for a pair of cuff links with the Presidential Seal. Mr. Nixon, it is reported, felt he got the better of that deal.
Jim Plunkett of Stanford won in 1970 and played well in pro ball but the quarterback would prefer to talk about his role in the disaster movie, "Airport '75".
John Cappelletti of Penn State, whose moving speech about his brother Joey was a highlight of Heisman history, delights in explaining the meaning of his name in Italian. Cappelletti translates as "little hat".
Archie Griffin of Ohio State, the only man to win two Heisman trophies, also has a one other "only" mark. He played on four consecutive Big Ten championship teams.
When Tony Dorsett won the Heisman in 1976, his coach, John Majors, came near to hitting a grand combination. Majors ran a close second in 1956 and thus missed out winning the Heisman but later coached a Heisman winner.
While linemen usually play out of the spotlight to quarterbacks and runners in the Heisman voting, several have finished high in point scoring as defensive players Alex Karras and Dick Butkus were high point scorers. In 1980, Pitt'sburgh's premier lineman Hugh Green did the best, with an 861 point total and 179 first place votes.
The 1982 and 1983 winners, Herschel Walker and Mike Rozier, went to the newly-formed United States Football League to start their professional careers, as did the 1984 winner, Doug Flutie.
Many felt Doug Flutie's fabled "Hail Mary" pass, which took Boston College to a last-second win over Miami, won the little quarterback the Heisman. Actually, the vote was in before that classic game.
Auburn's Bo Jackson opted first for a pro baseball career after winning the Heisman but later joined the NFL's Los Angeles Raiders. In 1985, when Jackson won, the first serious votes went to a Division III player, Joe Dudek of Plymouth State, who totaled 56 points, with 12 first-place votes. Two years later, Gordon Lockbaum of Holy Cross had 108 first-place votes, the highest for a Division IAA player until 1994 when Alcorn State's Steve McNair finished with 111 first place votes.
The first Heisman award in 1935, or as it was known then as the Downtown Athletic Club Award, had a geographical limitation. It went to "the best college player East of the Mississippi". That was Jay Berwanger of Chicago. Renamed later for the late John W. Heisman the following year, it went from coast to coast.
Jay Berwanger, the original Heisman winner, was typical of others to follow, in that he participated in additional sports. In track he ran the 100, the 120 hurdles, the 440 and competed in pole vault, shotput and javelin. He stepped out of the 1936 Olympics as a decathlon choice to give his full time to studies in his senior year. He might well have scored there. Berwanger competed against the fabled Jesse Owens and in 1936 was the Big Ten 100 Champion. Berwanger stayed in football as an official, working many games over a 30-year period including several Rose Bowl games.
Another three-letter man was Yale's Larry Kelley who starred for the Eli in basketball and baseball as well as football. In those sports during his three varsity years, Yale beat Princeton every time out, causing a poem to be penned, the last line being, "There is joy in Princeton, Larry Kelley won't be back."
The Heisman winners include many two-way players, a term now as much of a relic as the Ford Model-T. Clint Frank, for instance, has often been described as the best running back in Yale history but the consensus on Frank was, as one writer noted, that he was "a miracle on defense".
Davey O'Brien of TCU was the first Heisman winner to sign a pro contract, joining the Philadelphia Eagles. He was All-Pro in his rookie season of 1939 but left after the following year to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Iowa's famed Nile Kinnick was, as were so many Heisman winners, a standout baseball player. A catcher, he caught for Bobby Feller when he and the Hall of Famer were in American Legion baseball together.
Nile Kinnick's successor for the Heisman, Michigan's Tom Harmon, pitched three no-hit games in high school at Gary, Ind. and the New York Yankees offered him a contract with the Newark Bears. Had he accepted, Harmon would have been a member of the 1938 International League champs, considered one of the greatest minor league teams of all times.
Tom Harmon played basketball and ran track at Michigan but did not play college baseball, stating that he preferred track and field. He posted a 9.8 time in the 100-yard dash but points out that these days it is the 100-meter dash, about 10 yards or so longer. Few recall that Harmon played pro ball... in 1946 he averaged 6.7 yards per carry with the LA Rams. And he still wears his old number, his license plate being "9T8".
Minnesota's Bruce Smith is the first Heisman winner to have his school retire his number, the Gophers placing the "No. 54" jersey in the trophy case. Since then, many colleges have so honored their Heisman winners.
Frank Sinkwich was in the Marines when he won his Heisman in 1942 but was soon discharged due to flat feet. He joined the Detroit Lions and was the NFL's MVP in 1944.
Les Horvath, the 1944 winner, had some years in the NFL but left pro ball to continue his dentistry studies.
Several Heisman winners appeared in movies but the grand Army combination of Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard were the only ones to appear in a film together. They played themselves in "The Spirit of West Point", a film which also starred Alan Hale, Jr., who later was marooned on TV's "Gilligan's Island".
Blanchard, who remained in the military and served with distinction, was selected as one of the honor guards at the funeral of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in April of 1945.
Army's Glenn Davis has perhaps the best showing in the Heisman voting. Davis finished second twice, in 1944 and '45, and won in '46.
John Lujack of Notre Dame has a distinction of being the first former pro football player to take up duties as a color analyst for football telecasts. The first Heisman winner to go into sportscasting, back in the radio days, was Tom Harmon and Tom was at it up until his death in March, 1990.
Wisconsin's Alan Ameche was often asked if he was related to the veteran actor, Don Ameche, especially since after some years of retirement, Don has made a comeback in hit movies such as "Cocoon". He is Alan Ameche's cousin, in addition to being famous for the man who invented the telephone, playing Alexander Graham Bell in a vintage film.
John David Crow of Texas A&M came from the small town of Springhill, La. "It was so far back in the woods,'" he is fond of saying, "that they had to pipe in the sunshine."
Mike Garrett of USC was the first Californian to win the Heisman when he led the way in 1965. This opened the door for California with three of the next five winners coming from the Golden State, UCLA's Gary Beban, USC's O.J. Simpson and Stanford's Jim Plunkett.
In 1956, Tom McDonald and Jerry Tubbs of Oklahoma had a combined total of 1,679 points, the best two-man total from one school in a Heisman finish without a win. In 1973, Ohio State's John Hicks, Archie Griffin and Randy Gradishar totaled 1,132 points without a win.
The 1980's were a good time for quarterbacks from Brigham Young University although they didn't win a Heisman. Jim McMahon was fifth in 1980 and third in '81, Steve Young was second in '83 and Robbie Bosco was third in '84 and '85. The next decade proved success for BYU as Ty Detmer took the prize in 1990.
The fabled scoreless tie between Army and Notre Dame at New York's Yankee Stadium in 1946 featured four players who won the Heisman. Army's Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis and Notre Dame's John Lujack and Leon Hart were in the game.
After his pro career Howard "Hopalong" Cassady went into business and was associated with the American Shipbuilding Corp. of Tampa, Fla., whose chief executive and owner is a gentleman named George Steinbrenner. Cassady also does some scouting for the Yankees and coaches in the team's minor league system.
In 1994, Charlie Ward was selected in the first round of the National Basketball Association draft by the New York Knicks.
Rashaan Salaam's high school, LaJolla Country Day School, did not participate in a "traditional" 11-man football team conference. As a result, Salaam played 8-man football during his high school years.
Eddie George is the second Heisman winner who attended Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. Vinny Testaverde preceded George at FUMA. This was the second time two Heisman winners attended the same prep school. Davey O'Brien and Tim Brown attended Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas.
Steve Spurrier, who won the Heisman in 1966 at the University of Florida, became the first head coach to have a player under him also win the award. Danny Wuerffel captured the Heisman in 1996, also from the University of Florida.
Joe Bellino, the 1960 Heisman Winner from Navy was an assistant coach at the Naval Academy when Roger Staubach became the second Midshipman to take home the prize in 1963.
Charles Woodson led the University of Michigan to a share of the National Championship with Nebraska in 1997, and was the first purely defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.
Ricky Williams broke Tony Dorsett's 25-year-old NCAA rushing record among his nearly two dozen records set while starring for the University of Texas. The record lasted only one year, however, as 1999 winner Ron Dayne of the University of Wisconsin shattered it in winning the last Heisman of the 1900s.
Chris Weinke signed with the Toronto Blue Jays only 11 days after beginning practice with Florida State. Weinke was in the minor leagues for six years before he returned to FSU.
Eric Crouch is the only Heisman winner to play football in Europe. Crouch joined the Hamburg Sea Devils in 2005 and played safety for them. NFL closed the league in 2007.
Carson Palmer and Jordan Palmer are both quarterbacks for the Cincinnati Bengals and if they both stay active during the 2008 season, the Elias Sports Bureau confirms, they will be the first QB brothers on the same team in the Super Bowl era. Previous Heisman winner Ty Detmer and his brother Koy were both on the Philadelphia Eagles in 1997, but Koy was not active. Carson and Jordan are third siblings to play for the Bengals with past Heisman winner Archie Griffin and his brother Ray being in first.
While flying home, Jason White was told that his Heisman Trophy exceeded the weight limit for his luggage and had to pay an extra fee to put the Trophy on the flight.
The 2005 Orange Bowl marked the first time two Hiesman recipients faced each other in a game. Matt Leinart's USC defeated Jason White's Oklahoma 55-19.
2006 Winner Reggie Bush attended the same high school in La Mesa, CA as Alex Smith, was a 2004 Heisman finalist.
With Troy Smith's 2007 victory, Ohio State is now tied with Southern California and Notre Dame with the most Heisman winners. Each school has produced six winners and seven victories. Ohio State's Archie Griffin won the award twice.
When Tim Tebow's Florida Gators defeated Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2008 season, it was the first time a Heisman Trophy winner coached against another Heisman Trophy recipient.