The Cursed Heisman Trophy by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator & Believer in Curses Doug Bowles
It’s summer, but we had to get past a football-less spring, which can be a depressing time for fantasy leaguers. It meant that the NFL regular season was over, and even staring at a couple new fantasy football trophies on the mantle doesn’t help. April did give us some melancholy relief by giving us the 2015 NFL Draft, and in it, two Heisman trophy winners were on top of draft boards… Florida State QB Jameis Winston (2013) & Oregon QB Marcus Mariota (2014). QB Winston went to Tampa Bay as the #1 overall, and QB Mariota #2 to Tennessee, as the #2 overall, as expected.
You wouldn’t know it from the their stat lines in the 2015 Rose Bowl, but neither QB was particularly impressive, and neither gave me a very good feeling about their success in the NFL, at least as rookies.
Winston has potential, but I see more of a cross of QB Josh Freeman and QB Vince Young, and they weren’t great. QB Vince Young ( who ironically, was selected by Tennessee in 2006) and Winston are both 6’5″ ish, 230 pounds, not particularly fast, and have cannons for an arm. What would be perfect for this article, is if Young had also won the Heisman Trophy. He did not. In 2005, he came in 2nd to RB Reggie Bush. Although Vince Young’s 5 year NFL career wasn’t completely void of adequate performances, he didn’t come close to being worthy of the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, and certainly was not a franchise quarterback.
Mariota has plenty of potential, but his mechanics are bad and he would be well served to hold a clipboard for a year, and learn. He throws nearly every pass off his back foot, and in the Rose Bowl I mentioned, there were really only two passes that had any “wow factor”. The first was a “dart of a pass” 15 yards down field to WR Darren Carrington that turned into a 56 TD. ( It was set up nicely from a previous play ) The second was a perfect 30 yard “touch pass” also to a streaking WR Darren Carrington, that also turned into a TD. Other than those two passes, the rest were boring screen passes, bubble passes and quick slants. QB Mariota wasn’t the story of this game, the 5 Florida State turnovers in the 2nd half was. QB Mariota might have been great, but he didn’t have to be.
I don’t know what it is about the Heisman, but like the Madden Cover, the success rate of anyone getting the Heisman Award is not good. Here’s 15 years worth….
2000-QB Chris Weinke…..In 2001, he was the starter when the Panthers finished with a 1-15 record. Back up QB the rest of his career. Out in 2007
2001- QB Eric Crouch…..Drafted by St. Louis, but seen by the NFL as too short to play QB and better suited for playing wide out. Because of the injury, Crouch left the team before playing a single game
2002- QB Carson Palmer…..successful as the starting QB in Cincinnati and Arizona, but injuries have limited what Palmer might have been able to accomplish
2003- QB Jason White…..Despite a strong college career, White was not selected in the 2005 NFL Draft and did not receive a tryout from any NFL team
2004- QB Matt Leinart…..famous for his rookie season “hold-out”, Leinart spent four seasons with the Cardinals, primarily as backup for Kurt Warner
2005- ( RB Reggie Bush- Trophy & Award Forfeited )
2006- QB Troy Smith…..In the NFL from 2007 to 2009. Smith wasn’t drafted until Day 2, and was finally selected at the end of the fifth round by the Baltimore Ravens.
2007- QB T Tebow….A ridiculous 1st round selection by Denver, and began the 2011 season as the Denver backup QB, behind Kyle Orton. Traded to the Jets in 2012 and a short stint with the Patriots, he was out of the NFL by 2013.
2008- QB Sam Bradford…..Drafted in 2010 by St. Louis. Expectations have been high for often-injured Bradford. In 2011, he went 4-0 in the preseason, but the Rams finished a dismal 2-14
2009- RB Mark Ingram….. Selected by the New Orleans Saints in the 2011 NFL Draft. Ingram’s best season so far is 2014. In prior seasons, Ingram never topped 602 yards or 5 TDs.
2010- QB Cam Newton…..most successful of Heisman trophy winners since 2000. Starter for the Carolina Panthers since 2011. 82 TDs vs 54 INTs
2011- QB Robert Griffin III…..has only 12 wins since starting in 2012
2012- QB J Manziel…..1st NFL start for the Browns’ Week 15 game vs Cincinnati. He completed 10-of-18 passes for 80 yards and 2 INTs for a 27.3 passer rating. The Browns lost 30-0.
2013- QB Jameis Winston
2014- QB Marcus Mariota
The end of any regular NFL season is pretty darn depressing, but perhaps not as depressing as this pitiful list. I’ll be happy when one Heisman trophy winner actually comes along and really makes a lasting mark in the NFL. Perhaps one or both of these two young men will and prove me wrong. I hope so.