Hockey And The Heisman
There is a long history of Heisman Trophy winners playing multiple sports, be it Bo Jackson in Major League Baseball, Charlie Ward in the NBA, Terry Baker leading Oregon State to the NCAA Final Four, Robert Griffin III winning a Big 12 hurdles title or Billy Cannon setting a state record in the shot put. The list goes on.
With the 2021 NHL season starting this week, we thought we’d look at the Heisman connection to hockey. It’s lean, but it’s quite interesting.
Of course it starts with 1958 Heisman winner Pete Dawkins. Not only was Dawkins accomplished in football and baseball, but he was a skilled hockey player who lettered three years in the sport at West Point.
In fact, in his senior year, he was named the Cadets’ assistant captain and earned All-East Hockey team honors and led the region in scoring for defensemen.
But his hockey career didn’t end there. After winning the Rhodes Scholarship, he attended Oxford, where he not only played rugby, but also played hockey for the university. He’s No. 5 in the clip below.
Per PeteDawkins.com, 1960 United States Olympic Ice Hockey Team Coach Jack Riley – who coached Dawkins at West Point – was asked about Pete’s prospects as a possible member of the Olympic team. Riley replied, “Ability-wise, he definitely has the potential to make the squad. Unfortunately, he must be disregarded in view of his Rhodes Scholarship, which will keep him in England for the next three years.”
2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford from Oklahoma also played hockey, although his career ended in youth travel hockey. His youth hockey career, which lasted six years and ended before high school, included two seasons playing for the Oklahoma City Junior Blazers travel team under coach Mike McEwen, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the New York Islanders.
“He had great vision. Really smart,” McEwen told USA Hockey magazine years ago. “He had good hands and was a good skater, but he had slow feet back then.”
Said Bradford to USA Hockey back in 2009: “Hockey is so fast and unpredictable that it teaches you to think quickly and make snap decisions. I think that quality translates really well to playing quarterback.”
1951 Heisman winner Dick Kazmaier’s daughter, Patty, was a successful collegiate hockey player, earning All-Ivy League honors at Princeton. Sadly, she died in 1990 at 28 due to a rare blood disease. In 1998, Dick helped establish the Patty Kazmaier Award in her honor, given to the top NCAA Division I women’s college ice hockey player.
One Heisman Trophy winner has recently becoming a professional hockey team owner. Tim Tebow, in December of 2020, became a co-owner of the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL, an affiliate with the Winnipeg Jets.