Football – The History Of The Heisman Award

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At the end of every college football season an award is given out to the nations top college football player as voted on by a group of 941 media members and past winners. This award is called the Heisman Memorial Award Trophy. While this award is highly publicized by the media and football fans throughout the world, here are some interesting facts that you may not know.


The Heisman Award originally began by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City in 1935. It was named after John W Heisman, who was a member of the club. The actual trophy is modeled after former New York University football player Ed Smith in 1934.


The award had always been presented at the Downtown Athletic Club until 2002. The club was located near the site of the World Trade Center towers that were destroyed in the attacks of 9/11. The club was forced to close due in part to financial difficulties resulting from 9/11.

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Voting Process

The voting process for football’s Heisman Award is on a regional basis. The country is divided into 6 separate regions with a noted media member in charge of each region. This member then chooses a select group of other voters that are football writers, reporters, or TV personalities to also cast votes.

Dividing the country up into 6 regions helps assure there will be no regional bias for any one player. Currently there are 941 members who cast votes. The award is given out in December of each year.

Award Winners

Winners of the Heisman Football award include mostly quarterbacks and running backs. In fact, 41 of the 71 Heisman Award winners are running backs and 23 have been quarterbacks.

Charles Woodson of Michigan has been the one and only defensive player to ever win the award. He did that in 1997. Although he also returned kickoffs and punts, he was primarily a defensive back.

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Archie Griffin has the distinction of being the only player in Heisman Award history to win the trophy twice. He did so in 1974 and 1975 while playing with Ohio State.

Two schools are tied with the most number of Heisman Award winners. Both USC and Notre Dame have had 7 past Heisman football trophy winners, although Notre Dame has only had one winner in the last 40 years. Ohio State has had 6 Heisman Award winners.

What Happened To A Few Past Winners?

While there have been many past Heisman Award winners go on to have Hall of Fame careers in the NFL, for many others, just the opposite has happened.

Jason White, the 2003 winner has never played a down in the NFL. Archie Griffin, the only two-time award winner had a dismal football career in Cincinnati. Andre Ware, the 1989 winner, sat on the bench for 4 years and then retired.

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Eric Crouch, the 2001 winner out of Nebraska, has never played a game in the NFL. Rashaan Salaam, the 1994 winner, had several drug abuse suspensions in a very short and unpleasant career. Perhaps the most infamous Heisman Award winner of all-time is O.J. Simpson. After having a very illustrious career with the Buffalo Bills, he will always be remembered for his celebrity trial in the murder of his wife and Ronald Goldman.

Football fans everywhere love the Heisman football trophy. Each one has his or her own opinion on who the winner should be. It has become a yearly tradition that keeps on getting bigger every year.



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