It’s time for a Heismans-in-the-NFL round-up, and let’s start with two Heisman winners playing on teams among the final eight in the NFL Playoffs.
Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson (2016) and Tampa Bay Buccaneer signal-caller Baker Mayfield (2017) will lace ‘em up this weekend as both are trying to become the first Heisman Trophy winner to win a Super Bowl since Charles Woodson (1997) in Super Bowl XLV in 2011.
The streak came close to ending in each of the past two seasons. Joe Burrow (2019) took the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl two seasons ago while DeVonta Smith helped the Philadelphia Eagles reach the big game last year, but both teams fell short of winning a ring.
Overall, 20 Heisman winners have appeared on Super Bowl rosters 28 times while a combined 10 Heisman winners have won a total of 12 Super Bowls (Roger Staubach and Jim Plunkett being the only repeat winners).
By the way, only three Heisman winners have won a Super Bowl title in addition to winning a national title in college, which includes Woodson, Tony Dorsett and Marcus Allen. Neither Jackson nor Mayfield won a college title, so that feat will remain a party of three.
Jackson, the leading contender to win his second career NFL MVP honor, enters the playoffs having had a career-best regular season, leading the Baltimore Ravens to the top seed in the AFC and a first-round bye.
He completed 307-of-457 passes for 3,678 yards, averaging 8.0 yards per attempt, all career-high numbers. Jackson threw 24 touchdown passes against just seven interceptions and rushed for 821 yards on 148 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt, while scoring five more touchdowns.
In his final start of the regular season (he sat out Week 18), Jackson passed for 321 yards and a season-high five touchdowns on 18-of-21 passing against Miami for a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
Mayfield also turned in arguably his best season as a pro, leading Tampa Bay to a 9-8 finish and an NFC South Division title.
Mayfield threw for 4,044 yards and 28 touchdowns on 364-of-566 attempts while completing 64.3% of his passes — all career-bests.
Mayfield and the Bucs dismantled 2022 NFC champion Philadelphia, 32-9, in the wild card round last week to earn a trip to Detroit on Sunday. Mayfield passed for 337 yards and three scores for his second NFL playoff win.
Jackson and the Ravens host Houston — led by two-time Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud — on Saturday.
The Eagles’ Smith saw his bid to return to the Super Bowl foiled by Mayfield, despite a strong game. Smith finished with eight receptions and 148 yards in the Wild Card loss to Tampa Bay.
Smith turned in his third straight strong NFL season, finishing with 81 receptions for 1,066 yards and seven touchdowns, marking his second-straight 1,000-yard season.
Smith’s fellow Crimson Tide Heisman winner, Bryce Young, finished his rookie season with the Carolina Panthers with 2,877 passing yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for another 253 yards.
Burrow’s 2023 season was a struggle with injuries. He was limited by a calf injury at the start of the season before finding his groove midyear in time to lead the Bengals to four straight wins. But a wrist injury suffered in mid November cut his season short. He finished with 2,309 passing yards with 15 touchdowns.
Kyler Murray lost almost half of 2022 due to an ACL injury that also cost him the first half of 2023. Once he got on the field, Murray played in eight games in 2023, completing 176-of-268 passes for 1,799 yards and 10 touchdowns while he rushed for 244 yards and three more scores.
Derrick Henry registered his fifth career 1,000-yard NFL season, finishing with 1,167 yards on 280 carries with 12 touchdowns. He also caught 28 passes for 214 yards and threw a pair of short touchdowns as well.
Henry now has 9,502 career rushing yards, 36th on the all-time NFL career chart, passing Heisman winner Earl Campbell in the final game of the season. The next closest Heisman winner is Ricky Williams, who is 31st (10,009), while Eddie George sits at 28th (10,441).
Henry has 90 career rushing touchdowns, which is tied for 13th on the NFL career list. Only Barry Sanders (99) and Marcus Allen (123) have had more among Heisman winners.
2014 winner Marcus Mariota saw modest action as a backup QB in Philadelphia, playing in three games.