In sports, much like in all of life, past success never automatically means future success. Don't misunderstand, if you do something well today, you'll likely do it well again tomorrow. Within the realm of football, dominance at one level of play doesn't automatically translate to dominance at a higher level. Every year, scores of high school stars fail in college, and in much the same way, impressive college players are unable to adapt to play in the NFL.
Nothing proves how difficult the NFL is quite like the notion of a Heisman flop (bust, whatever you want to call them). The Heisman Trophy, given annually to the best player at the collegiate level, should be a great indicator of future success in the NFL. In many cases, it certainly is. Past winners include icons like Roger Staubach, O.J. Simpson, Tony Dorsett, Charles Woodson, and Barry Sanders. More recent winners who are performing well in the league include Cam Newton, Mark Ingram (great when he's healthy), and Sam Bradford, who set a new record for season completion percentage last year (71.6%).
Unfortunately, throughout the illustrious history of the Heisman Trophy, there are numerous cases of a collegiate star's success at the level not translating to the NFL. Two recent examples come to mind, in Johnny Manziel, and Robert Griffin III. RG3 had a brilliant rookie campaign, and his quick decline can be attributed to the management of an injury back in his rookie season. He's a free agent at the time of this article being written.
Johnny Manziel on the other hand, is a case of ego and a lack of work ethic. He went from being the first Freshman to win the award to a two-year disappointment for the Cleveland Browns. He's now a free agent as well, and the rumor mill has it he may be headed to the CFL. While we know what these two are up to (pathetically trying to salvage their careers), there are numerous other Heisman winners whose current whereabouts are not widely known. Here are fifteen "where are they now" stories about Heisman flops.
15 Archie Griffin
Some of these names are recent but other entries on this list, such as this one, may read like history lessons. Back in the 1970s, running back Archie Griffin became the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, taking the honor in both 1974 and 1975. Playing for Ohio State, he posted at least 1,600 yards from scrimmage in his sophomore, junior and senior years, getting him taken in the first round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1976. He played seven seasons, and scored just seven touchdowns. His total rushing yardage for his career was just over 2,800. His seven career touchdowns totaled less than half of his fifteen career fumbles.
He isn't the biggest bust out there, but his career was less than ideal for a man who tore up the college ball world like he did for three years. He spent a long time as the President and CEO of the Ohio State University Alumni Association, but stepped down from that position in 2015. Prior to that he worked for the school's athletic program in a number of positions. He has also been a spokesperson for Motorists Insurance. After stepping down from his position with OSU's alumni association, he transitioned to working as an adviser to the school's office of advancement.
14 Chris Weinke
Many may not remember the 2000 Heisman winner, but Chris Weinke took an interesting route to get to college ball and the NFL. He spent several years with the Toronto Blue Jays farm system in the early 1990s, and started playing football for Florida State in 1997, earning the Heisman in 2000, at age 28. He remains the oldest person to ever win the award. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers, for whom he started just one season, going 1-14 in fifteen starts. The rest of his time in Carolina was spent backing up Rodney Peete (one year) and Jake Delhomme.
Since retiring he has worked in event planning for a financial services company, but more recently started a football camp with John Madden in 2010 at IMG Academy. In 2015 he started working as quarterbacks coach for the Rams, and earlier in 2017 he started working as an offensive analyst for the University of Alabama.
13 Pat Sullivan
While playing for Auburn, Pat Sullivan won the 1971 Heisman. He was at the school from 1969 until 71, and got drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 1972. He spent six years in the league; four with Atlanta and two with the Washington Redskins. He started just four games, and never won, and retired in 1977 with a quarterback rating of just 36.5.
After retiring from football, Sullivan worked in insurance and then in sales for a few years, before coming back to the sports world. He did some radio commentary for Auburn before being hired on as a quarterbacks coach. In the early and mid '90s, he was the head coach for TCU, before spending eight seasons as the offensive coordinator for UAB. He was the head coach for Samford from 2007 until 2014, and retired from coaching after that year.
12 Andre Ware
Born and raised in Galveston, Texas, Andre Ware initially wanted to play for the University of Texas, but chose Houston over that school after the Longhorns' coaching staff implied they would be moving him to defense, rather than letting him play quarterback. He won the 1989 Heisman with that school and was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 1990 draft. He played four seasons for the team but only started six games, throwing five touchdowns and eight picks. After 1993 he was on a few practice squads and ended up in the CFL for a while, and even went to Europe for a few games, but retired in 1999. These days he's a broadcaster covering Houston Texans games. In the past he has also done commentary for college games for ESPN.
11 Troy Smith
Despite winning the Heisman Trophy in 2006, Troy Smith (Pictured Right) wasn't drafted until round five of the 2007 draft. His friend and teammate Ted Ginn Jr. was taken in the first round of that draft. While his arm wasn't a problem, and his decision making seemed good, his size (similar to Johnny Manziel but a bit heavier) was a problem, standing just 5'11. He had some playing time with the Ravens and 49ers, but after a couple of unsuccessful years in the CFL, he called it quits back in 2014.
He and his former high school coach, Ted Ginn Sr. are reportedly in the process of opening up some marijuana dispensaries in Cleveland. They have apparently teamed up with Jim Buchanan, who operates a similar operation in Seattle.
10 Ty Detmer
Over the course of his four years at BYU (88-91), quarterback Ty Detmer put up unbelievable numbers. He remains 5th all time in terms of career passing yards in NCAA Div I, with 15,031 yards. He's a college football Hall of Fame inductee, much like many members of this list, and but was taken in the ninth round of the 1992 draft. The Packers picked him up, and the consensus was that he was a decent size for college ball, but too small for NFL work. He backed up Brett Favre for a couple of years, played on and off for four different teams before calling it a career in 2005.
He worked for a financial management firm that specialized in finances for athletes from 2007 until 2009, at which point he switched to coaching. His first job was with a private school in Austin, Texas, and since 2015, he has been working as offensive coordinator and QB coach for his alma mater BYU.
9 Gary Beban
Between 1965 and 1967, Gary Beban played quarterback for UCLA, and in 1965, managed to beat rivals USC and then number one ranked Michigan State to win the Rose Bowl. A solid rusher and pass thrower, Beban won the Heisman and Maxwell awards in 1967. He was picked up in the 1968 draft by the Redskins late in the second round. Unfortunately Gary Beban was drafted at an inopportune time by the Redskins, who had future Hall of Fame inductee Sonny Jurgensen under center at the time. He saw very little playing time, with a career that consists of five rushing attempts for 18 yards, a single reception for 12, and a lone incomplete pass attempt.
He retired from football in 1971. Later that year he got involved with what is now known as CBRE, a massive real estate company. He started out in the Los Angeles office, but was moved to the Chicago area to set up new operations for the company. He did very well, and as of late 2015 (age 69) still worked with an office in Chicago.
8 Jason White
Playing for the Oklahoma Sooners between 2001 and 2004, Jason White was unbelievable, with two 40+ touchdown seasons, both of which saw ten or less interceptions. While he was a technically phenomenal quarterback, with solid judgment and a great arm, his knees were damaged early in his collegiate career, causing teams to not take an interest in bringing him on. The Titans did sign him as an undrafted free agent, but never actually played a game in the league.
These days he owns several companies in Oklahoma, including a sports memorabilia store and a shoe store. He worked in financial services and insurance for a couple of years, and has also been involved with a community health project with St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City.
7 Ron Dayne
Now second all-time in career NCAA rushing yards (Donnel Pumphrey surpassed his total in 2016), 1999 Heisman winner out of Wisconsin Ron Dayne looked like a sure thing to help the New York Giants running game in the early 2000s. He and Tiki Barber made a great pair for a couple of years, but ultimately, Dayne's carries and yards per carry dropped every year with the Giants, from 770 yards on 228 carries in 2000 to 179 yards on 52 carries in 2004. He got no playing time in the 2003 season, as he had some disagreements with coach Jim Fassel. His yards per carry was always low in New York as well. He had some success in Denver and then Houston but always as a backup. He retired in 2007. Dayne now lives back in Madison, Wisconsin where he is a spokesperson for several companies and contributes his time to numerous charitable causes.
6 Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow is a polarizing figure given the religious overtones of his career and the fact that some fans like to ridicule his beliefs and lack of success in the NFL. Other fans who know what he's like, will argue that he has the reputation for being one of the nicest guys ever to play the game. He was a monster with the Florida Gators, but between his time in Denver and his brief stint with the Jets, his skill set didn't transfer over to the NFL.
He's involved with quite a few philanthropic initiatives, particularly in Florida, and has recently launched a baseball career. He's a fan favorite everywhere he goes and treats his fans pretty well. He currently plays ball for the St. Lucie Mets.
5 Rashaan Salaam
Most of the stories we've listed here are fairly positive, and while these guys haven't had great careers, they have achieved success elsewhere. Rashaan Salaam, the '94 Heisman winner, did not have a great life after football. He spent three years with the Colorado Buffaloes, with his junior year being a 2,055 yard, 24 touchdown masterpiece. He was drafted in 1995 by the Chicago Bears. His first season was promising, and while his 3.6 yards per carry wasn't spectacular, he racked up over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Injuries would ultimately end his career by 2004.
After the end of his playing time, he spent time in China, and founded a company that promoted mixed martial arts events. Later on he returned to Colorado and worked for a company that did testing for pro football scouting combines. He worked for several not-for-profit organizations to benefit kids in the Boulder area. Over the years, those who knew him said he started to exhibit signs of depression, and some even suggested he may have had a case of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Late in 2016, Salaam was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was 42 years old.
4 Matt Leinart
Earlier this year, Matt Leinart was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. There were a few reasons however, that may give us clues as to why his NFL career wasn't successful. Drafted 10th overall by Arizona in 2006 after winning the 2004 Heisman, he was considered an incredibly valuable prospect. Major criticisms however, included an underpowered arm, and some shoddy work ethic (he liked to party). On top of that, it has been suggested that his receivers at USC made him look better than he really was, and that his decision making didn't develop enough in college.
Whatever the reason however, he's doing okay for himself, and works for Fox Sports as a college football analyst. Outside of broadcasting, he operates the Matt Leinart Foundation, that creates opportunity for athletic endeavors for underprivileged youth.
3 Gino Torretta
Gino Torretta (Pictured Left) spent the first two of his four years with the Miami Hurricanes mostly on the bench, aside from three starts, one of which he threw for almost 500 yards. He started his junior and senior years, leading the team to a National Championship in 1991, and losing to Alabama in the 1993 Sugar Bowl. He was drafted in the seventh round by Minnesota, and was on five different rosters in five years, playing in only one game, in 1996 for the Seahawks. He went 5-16 with a touchdown and an interception.
He retired in 1997, but has remained busy in his retirement. He has a charitable foundation that raises awareness and money for ALS research. He also founded Touchdown Radio, and to this day, works as a Vice President for GAMCO Asset Management, a large investment firm.
2 Eric Crouch
In Nebraska's option-based offense back in the late 90's and early 2000s, Eric Crouch was never the best passer but he was amazing on his feet. In his Heisman winning year in 2001, he threw for over 1,500 yards and ran for over 1,100 as well. Injuries and being generally considered too small to be an elite NFL quarterback kept him out of ever achieving anything in the league. He was drafted by the Rams but they wanted to use him as a receiver.
He spent a couple of unsuccessful seasons in the CFL, was briefly linked to the United Football League in 2011, but has been de facto retired for about ten years now. He has worked on and off as an analyst for a few broadcasters. He has also worked in sales and owns his own business Crouch Recreation, which produces and maintains playgrounds and other recreational equipment for kids.
1 Danny Wuerffel
Playing for Florida between 1993 and 1996, Danny Wuerffel was used to great effect by Steve Spurrier, as the Gators won four straight SEC Championships and the 1996 National Championship. He won the Heisman in 1996 and was subsequently drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round. His first three years in the league were with the Saints and he started six games, winning just two. His career was over as of the end of the 2002 season.
Since his retirement, Wuerffel has spent most of his time working with Desire Street, a non-profit that was started to improve the lives of inhabitants of low income neighbourhoods in New Orleans. These days, the initiative has increased in size and now has operations in areas in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Texas. In 2011 he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition that causes the immune system to attack the central nervous system and can cause paralysis. Apparently he caught it before he sustained too much damage and was able to receive treatment.
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