By Ray Hamill
Success on the college football field doesn’t always translate to the NFL, but when it comes to Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks it’s almost a certainty it won’t.
And that’s nothing new.
In fact, if history is anything to go by, the closest Johnny Manziel or Jameis Winston is going to get to a Super Bowl any time soon will be somewhere in the stands or watching from the comfort of their living room.
That’s not to take from the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious individual award in American sports, and the winners have at least one thing in common – they all thrilled us with their exploits on the college fields.
Many of them, however, have not done the same in the professional ranks, especially the quarterbacks.
Of the 47 Heisman winners in the Super Bowl era, 22 are quarterbacks. But of those 22, only one – Jim Plunkett (1970) – has gone on to win a Super Bowl as a starter.
And it’s not just the lack of championships that distinguishes these college football greats in their NFL careers. It’s a lack of any success at all.
Of those 22 QB winners, in fact, only four – Plunkett, Vinny Testaverde, Doug Flutie and Carson Palmer – started for any length of time in the pros, and only Plunkett and Testaverde have anything resembling Hall of Fame numbers.
That lack of success has been further highlighted in recent times with the growing number of signal callers now taking home the Heisman, and 12 of the 14 winners this millennium have been quarterbacks compared to just 10 between 1967 and 1999.
But once again, their college success has not translated over to the pro ranks, with names like Chris Weinke, Troy Smith and Tim Tebow conjuring up images of underachievement in the NFL, and a doubtful jury still pondering how the likes of RG III, Can Newton and Sam Bradford will yet be remembered.
So the next time your favorite team has the top overall pick in the NFL draft (are you listening, Raiders fans?), before you scream for them to take that Heisman winner who looked so amazing in college, ask yourself one little question – how come so many Heisman quarterbacks flop in the NFL?