Heisman Trophy no guarantee of NFL stardom

Jim Brown, perhaps the greatest running back in NFL history, did not win a Heisman.

Winning the  Heisman Trophy is a  tremendous honor. It may be the most important individual award in sports — certainly at the collegiate level. Yet it hardly guarantees a seat at the NFL head table.

Consider this — what do Jimmy Brown, Joe Montana, below right, Johnny Unitas, Walter Payton and Peyton Manning have in common? None of them won a Heisman Trophy. Neither did Jerry Rice or Lawrence Taylor or Reggie White.

All of them are listed in the top 10 of the NFL Network’s 100 greatest players in NFL history, a list compiled by a blue ribbon panel of current and former NFL coaches, players, executives, and media.

The first Heisman Trophy winner on the NFL top 100 list was 1988 winner Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State, ranked 17th. Only five others on that list were Heisman Trophy winners:

40. OJ Simpson (USC, 1968)
46. Roger Staubach (Navy, 1963)
55. Earl Campbell (Texas, 1977)
77. Tony Dorsett (Pitt, 1976)
85. Marcus Allen (USC, 1981)

Only eight of the 78 Heisman winners are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – the six above plus Doak Walker (SMU, 1948) and Paul Hornung (Notre Dame. 1956)

A total of 19 Heisman winners were the first pick in the NFL draft, including the first winner — halfback Jack Berwanger of the University of Chicago, the first player to be drafted by the NFL in its inaugural draft in 1936. Traded from the Eagles to the Bears, Berwanger opted not to sign in order to preserver his amateur status and compete for a spot on the US Olympic team in the decathlon.

And since 1986, only three Heisman Trophy winners were number one picks in the NFL draft — Carson Palmer of USC in 2002, Sam Bradford of Oklahoma in 2008 and Cam Newton of Aubun in 2010.

Only three Super Bowl MVPs were Heisman winners — Staubach, Allen and Jim Plunkett, the only quarterback to start and win two Super Bowls and not make the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Perhaps one day recent Heisman winners like Cam Newton (Auburn, 2010) and Robert Griffin III (Baylor 2011) will gain NFL immortality. And this year’s winner, Johnny Manziel (Johnny Football) from Texas A&M, is just a freshman. But it’s still way too early to make that call.

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Dawgs Living in a Fantasy World

DSCN2593 Eli Manning and the rest of the Giants quarterbacks get ready for the 2009 season.

In the overall scheme of life, vacations are not real. Get up when you want to get up, go where you want to go. No deadlines or meetings or conference calls. No pressure. One week is fun, two weeks sublime.

In other words, it’s fantasy land.

Speaking of which, vacation is a great time to prepare for the fantasy football draft.

The Dutchess Dawgs of the NFL (Nightcap Fantasy League) have finished as regular season divisional champions each of the past two seasons. The Dawgs have ridden the arms of Tom Brady and Drew Brees to the championship game each season, only to loss in heartbreaking fashion in the finale..

To prepare the Dawgs for another successful season, their president, general manager and head coach “Big Dawg” Bowser has been poring over fantasy football rankings and lists from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and the other usual suspects, studying everything from mock drafts to rushing statistics to injury reports.

This year, the Dawgs have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their draft prep. First, a team official visited the pre-season training camp of the New York Giants at University at Albany to scope out the talent on a team many experts are picking to win the NFC and perhaps the Super Bowl.

Following that, the same Dawgs official spent a few days at Stanford University, soaking up the campus karma of former Cardinal quarterbacks John Elway and Jim Plunkett and then checking out Stanford Stadium, shown right, the site of Super Bowl XIX between the San Francisco 49ers and the Miami Dolphins.

It’s all part of a well-planned program designed to put the Dutchess Dawgs over the top in 2009.

Big decisions need to be made in the early rounds of the fantasy draft to fortify key positions. But the work doesn’t end there. Oftentimes success is achieved in the later rounds of the draft, sleeper picks that can make a huge difference as the long season wears on.

Built for the long haul, the Dawgs are geared for championship success this year.