Heisman Trophy Winners: 5 Biggest NFL Flops

As originally posted here.

The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the best college football player, but unfortunately being the best at college ball did not always translate to NFL success. Here are my top five Heisman busts who have ever donned an NFL jersey.

5) Archie Griffin – Griffin has the distinction of winning two Heisman trophies in 1974 and ‘75, four Big Ten Conference titles and first player to ever start in four Rose Bowls. The former Ohio State Buckeye is the only running back to lead the Big Ten in rushing for three straight years. Griffin amassed 5,589 rushing yards on 924 carries with 6,559 all-purpose yards and 26 touchdowns. His best year was in 1974 when he rushed for 1,695 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Griffin was the 24th overall pick selected in the 1976 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. In his seven seasons with the team, he rushed for 2808 yards and 7 touchdowns and caught 192 passes for 1,607 yards and 6 touchdowns. He never had more than three rushing touchdowns in a single season.

4) Steve Spurrier – Spurrier’s best achievements are far and wide with the University of Florida from winning the Heisman in 1966 as a player to leading them to six SEC championships and one national title as a head coach. Spurrier finished his playing career completing 392 of 692 passes for 4,848 passing yards and 37 touchdowns.

Spurrier started his NFL career as the third overall pick for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1967 draft. He played nine seasons mostly as a punter and backup quarterback to John Brodie before being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 for their inaugural winless season. Spurrier would play 106 games completing 597 of 1,151 passes for 6,878 yards and 40 touchdowns in his ten-year playing career.

3) Terry Baker – Baker was the first person west of Texas and the only player to win from the Pacific Northwest to win the Heisman in 1962 representing Oregon State University. Baker was the Liberty Bowl MVP and won the Maxwell Award in the same year. His talents also allowed him to play in the Final Four in the NCAA basketball tournament in the same year.

The Los Angeles Rams made him the first overall pick in the 1963 draft. Unfortunately for Baker and the Rams, he never panned out as he played 3 lackluster seasons with them throwing for 154 yards and four interceptions. He would wrap up his career with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL in 1966. Baker’s 99-yard run against Villanova in the Liberty Bowl stands as an NCAA record.

2) Rashaan Salaam – After becoming the fourth major college football player to rush for over 2000 yards in a season, Salaam finished with 2055 rushing yards and won the Heisman in 1994. He also won the Walter Camp, Doak Walker and Jim Brown Awards in the same year. The University of Colorado standout was selected 21st overall by the Chicago Bears in the 1995 draft where he set a rookie record rushing for 1074 yards and ten touchdowns. He was never able to recreate his production as it never topped 500 rushing yards in a single season for the remainder of his career.

The Bears cut him loose in 1997 where two years later he would serve stints with the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers. He would surface again in 2001 with the ill-fated XFL for the Memphis Maniax in its only year before one final attempt at resurfacing in the NFL in 2003 for the San Francisco 49ers as an inactive/practice squad player.

1) Andre Ware – Ware was one of the best college quarterback in his generation. He was the first black quarterback and first player from the University of Houston to win the Heisman in 1989. He also won the Davey O’Brien award for most outstanding college quarterback in his junior year before declaring for the NFL draft, he threw for 4699 yard, 46 touchdowns both for NCAA records. In fact, he set 26 new NCAA records in his collegiate career. His expertise in the run and shoot offense vaulted the Cougars to finish 14th overall in the nation.

The Detroit Lions drafted Ware seventh overall in the 1990 draft where he never really panned out. He threw for 1,112 yards, five touchdowns, eight interceptions and barely completing 50 percent of his passes. His tenure with the Lions ended in 1993 where he would serve out his remaining NFL stints with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1994 and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995 before going to the Canadian Football League where Ware would win a Grey Cup with the Toronto Argonauts in 1997.


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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