The Surprising Stories of 7 Heisman Trophy Winners


The Heisman Trophy is awarded annually by the Downtown Athletic Club to the top player in college football’s highest division. While many of those who have hoisted the trophy named for football coach and pioneer John Heisman initially pursued careers in the NFL, the lives of these seven winners took much different paths:

1. 1935: First Heisman Trophy Winner Jay Berwanger Passes on NFL Career

Weeks after becoming the first recipient of the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy—as the Heisman Trophy was originally known—Berwanger again made football history when the Philadelphia Eagles selected him as the NFL’s first draft pick. Professional football had yet to become a lucrative enterprise, and while the University of Chicago senior reportedly demanded to be paid $1,000 per game, Philadelphia offered no more than $150.


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