**Quick Note from Ken: Make sure to watch The Return of the Curl, Pedro Martinez, for the Phillies tonight. Also, my quest to reclaim my throne as King of Fantasy Football starts tonight, with the ETSF Fantasy Football Draft. It may even be televised, so stay tuned.**
The Heisman is the one award I have a true love/hate relationship with. Most of the time, I feel they do an excellent job of picking the best player in college football. Rarely have there been times when I thought they missed the mark. However, the pick in 1997 marks my favorite Heisman Winner of all-time. It also marks the only time a defensive player won this prestigious honor. I’m talking about none other than Michigan Wolverine Legend, Charles Woodson.
To really understand why it drives me crazy that this man’s name isn’t mentioned immediately when the word “Heisman” comes up is simple: since 1935, this award has been offense-dominated, especially quarterback-dominated. Before 1997, there were some cats that had placed in the Heisman voting, but there have only been three that ever finished in the top-two. One was The University of Penn’s Bob Odell, and that was back in 1943 (oh yes, your boy did the research)! The others were Iowa’s Alex Karras in 1957, and Pittsburgh’s Hugh Green in 1980.The finalists in 1997 included Woodson, Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf, and Randall Moss. Manning was GREAT back in college, and Leaf wasn’t too shabby himself. Moss recently set the NCAA record for touchdown catches in a season, and on top of that, they all played offense. It’s safe to say the odds were stacked against Woodson, even with all of his exploits on the field.
When Charles Woodson was on the field, you could pretty much forget about whichever side of the field he was on. Receivers were terrified by him, and quarterbacks were mortified by him. If a quarterback threw to his side, the pass was either knocked down, or picked off. The man could cover; the man could hit; the man could catch, and he could tackle. Plus, he rocked Deion’s college number back in those days, and did it to the fullest.
No disrespect to Troy Smith, Sam Bradford, Ricky Williams, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Ron Dayne (wait, all disrespect to that dude), or any other players who have won it, but when I hear the word “Heisman,” I think of Charles Woodson. All of these dudes were great, and I like most of them, but what Charles Woodson did was nothing short of remarkable. There are some cats that have made a tremendous impact from the defensive side of the ball for years, and hopefully more will come along. When they do, my only hope is voters recognize their brilliance, and give them a puncher’s chance to win the Heisman. Ed went with an atypical typical pick with Cal RB Jahvid Best for Heisman, but I think a DB (Eric Berry, Taylor Mays) could make a run at the Heisman this year. We’ll see how the year plays out, but for now, consider this a trip down memory lane of the most underappreciated Heisman winner of our lifetime.
Be easy.-K. Masenda
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