5. Too often, the winner really isn’t a great player, or a particularly good guy
The list of winners includes a serial murderer and an avowed cheater, a quarterback whose father conducted an auction for his recruitment, a counterfeiter and an accused rapist. Last year’s winner went on a rampage of debauchery and self-indulgent behavior, made a tour of the country making an ass of himself, signing autographs for a memorabilia dealer (allegedly). Most of the winners have been busts in the NFL. A couple wound up selling their trophy.
Some really mediocre players have won because they were quarterbacks on very good teams from big-name schools, really forgettable players who offered very little in terms of flair, electricity or excitement. Some years it should be renamed the “Quarterback on a Football Team That Won a Decent Number of Games and Amassed Stats in a Year No One Did Anything Particularly Great” Award
4. There’s an impossible regional bias.
The last West Coast player to win, other than a USC Trojan, was Jim Plunkett of Stanford in 1970, 43 years ago. The only player to win from the Northwest was Terry Baker, in 1962.
3. It’s too heavily influenced by ESPN.
The World Wide Leader promotes certain guys and trashes others. They hype candidates from their former schools and saturate the market with highlights that trump up the flavor of the month. Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Tim Tebow all got huge boosts from ESPN love-fests. They may have won anyway, but the marketing campaign from the talking heads of the WWL was unseemly.
2. Nobody wins but quarterbacks
11 of the last 13 winners have been quarterbacks, and the other two were running backs. The only defensive player to win was Charles Woodson in 1992, a cornerback/punt returner. In the last 50 years, Desmond Howard, Tim Brown and Johnny Rodgers were the only non-offensive backfield players to win, all three receivers and returners, although Rodgers was a forerunner to De’Anthony Thomas, a slotback/receiver/running back/returner hybrid.
1. There’s too much “this player was in/now he’s out” hype
Teddy Bridgewater, Jordan Lynch, Tajh Boyd, Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr and A.J. McCarron are all fine football players and exceptional representatives of their sport. Yet each was somehow disqualified when their team lost a game. Mariota went from frontrunner to nobody while playing with an injured knee. Meanwhile, ESPN media darling Johnny Manziel has lost 4, and thrown 13 picks, and he’s still among the frontrunners for a seat at the New York ceremony.
In 78 years, only five Heisman winners have made it to the NFL Hall of Fame. Notre Dame, USC, Oklahoma and Ohio State have nearly a third of all the Heisman Trophies ever awarded.
This year’s campaign was the worst. Players were so routinely elevated and then trashed that now no one really seems like a legitimate candidate. Nobody outside the state of Florida feels good about giving the trophy to Winston.
Chris Elsberry of the Connecticut Post points out that on its website, the Heisman Trophy mission statement is this: “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.”
Pretty hard to say that the ideals of the Heisman match the reality, when the last two winners are Manziel and Winston. Hard to invest much in an award that espouses integrity and diligence when these two have one and Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck and Marcus Mariota don’t.