If Cam Newton is to succeed as an NFL quarterback, he’ll do a lot to restore the mystique of the Heisman Trophy — at least when it comes to quarterbacks.
That’s because there really is no mystique. It’s been a long, long time since a Heisman-winning passer has had a great NFL career. In fact, Carson Palmer and Vinny Testaverde aside, most of their careers have flat-out stunk. Doug Flutie had a great professional career, but the majority of his highlights came north of the border in the CFL. If you remove those three from the equation, the average career win total of the last 15 Heisman-winning quarterbacks is also north … of three. That’s no misprint: The majority of those quarterbacks deemed college football’s best player won an average of 3.25 (3.25!) starts in their NFL career.
Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow are included in that group of players, and obviously there are many votes yet to be cast on their careers. Bradford especially should alter the less-than-flattering Heisman numbers.
It should be noted that not every winner of sports’ most prestigious individual award took a big step back in the pros. Jim Plunkett, like Newton a No. 1 overall pick (1971 out of Stanford), won two Super Bowls with the Raiders. Roger Staubach also captured two Lombardi Trophies with the Cowboys and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1985.
— Elliot Harrison