The moment when
Not that he wants to join it. No player does.
It is the society of Heisman flops.
Scroll down the long and prominent list — Pat Sullivan, Jason White, Eric Crouch, et al. — of men who stood on college football's highest pedestal only to crash and burn as pros.
"The Heisman Trophy isn't given to the player who has the best future in the NFL," said
"And it's a tough transition."
Not every winner struggles. The likes of
And a lack of NFL success does nothing to diminish a player's extraordinary college achievements.
But the expectations are lofty for Heisman winners. Over the last 30 years, no fewer than two-thirds of them have fallen short at the next level, winding up as mediocre or worse.
"I don't think the Heisman should have any bearing on draft selection," said John Robinson, the former USC and
Robinson and others close to the game see a variety of reasons for high-profile washouts, starting with the fact the award does not always go to the best player.
In 2000, Chris Weinke of Florida State took home the trophy.
"Sometimes we vote on career achievement," said Charles Davis, an NFL Network analyst who casts a ballot each fall. "Sometimes we vote for the quarterback on the best team."
Speaking of quarterbacks, they have won the award more often than players at any other position in recent years — and they seem to have the most trouble living up to it.
Since 1980, more than half of the 11 Heisman-winning running backs have become stars in the pros. Brown, at wide receiver, and
Among 16 quarterbacks, only
However, Billick points out that a similar ratio applies to all quarterbacks trying to jump from college to the NFL.
In 1990, Heisman winner Andre Ware was selected by the
"If a running back has the right size, speed and strength, he's going to be great," Billick said. "For quarterbacks, what is the list of attributes?"
Is it a quick release like
"Obviously, when you focus on the quarterback position, the evaluation process is flawed at best," Billick said. "It's a 50-50 crapshoot."
Further complicating the situation, college teams often favor quarterbacks who run as often as they pass. NFL scouts say 80 percent of the playbook for this kind of offense has no bearing on what the pros do.
Take Crouch, for example. He was a dual-threat quarterback at Nebraska who never played in the NFL.
"You didn't have any trouble with him winning the Heisman Trophy," Davis said. "But you never once thought he was going to be a pro quarterback."
No matter which position a Heisman winner plays, he usually faces one more significant obstacle on the road to making it as a pro: Often, he will be drafted by a lousy team.
"So much of it is where the guy goes," Robinson said.
The Heisman runner-up this year, quarterback
But for Griffin, landing in the right situation could be vital. Dual-threat quarterbacks need time and coaching to learn the pro game's nuances, Robinson said.
Griffin was all smiles when he accepted the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, happy to be standing among a newfound brotherhood.
"To be a part of these guys behind me, to be a part of greatness, you can't ask for anything more," he said.
Well, maybe you can. How about a long and productive NFL career?