The finalists for college football’s coveted Heisman trophy have been announced! The winner of the 2017 award will be either Lamar Jackson (quarterback, St. Louis), Baker Mayfield (quarterback, Oklahoma) or Bryce Love (running back, Stanford). The 2017 awards ceremony will take place on Saturday, December 9th at 6:00 pm and broadcast on ESPN. The prestigious accolade, of course, is given to the most outstanding NCAA football player each year. So each year, many casual sports fans may quietly ask themselves: who is the Heisman Trophy named after?
To find the answer, we need to look all the way back to 1935.
Heisman Trophy: Origin
The Downtown Athletic Club created the Heisman Memorial Trophy in 1935. The purpose of the award was to honor the “most valuable college football player east of the Mississippi.” In October of the following year, the club’s athletic director, John W. Heisman, died of pneumonia. The trophy was soon renamed in his honor; the scope of the award was also broadened to include all college football players in the country.
John W. Heisman is believed to be the first person to suggest the forward pass in football. He coached for a number of high-profile colleges and left a profound impact on the game itself.
In the year 2001, the Downtown Athletic Club declared bankruptcy. Soon thereafter, the Heisman Trophy Trust was established as the new presenter of the award. To this day, they still present the award every year in December. 2017 marks the 83rd Annual Heisman Memorial Trophy Dinner; in that sense, the memory of John W. Heisman lives on.
A complete list of the Heisman Trophy winners can be found here. It’s important to note that these players earned the award not just for outstanding performance, but for their top-notch integrity and sportsmanship as well.