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Thursday, October 3, 2002
Updated: October 17, 5:02 PM ET
Readers: Biggest Heisman flops

From the Page 2 mailbag

Earlier this week, Page 2 listed its choices for the 10 biggest Heisman flops. However, we knew there were other big busts, and, as usual, we wanted your take.

We received more than 350 letters on the topic, and here's how our readers ranked their top 10. Be sure to vote in the poll at right to crown the biggest Heisman bust of them all.

1. Charlie Ward (74 letters)
Charlie Ward
Charlie Ward outpolled Marshall Faulk for the Heisman in 1993.
After leading FSU to the national title, he tries to bring a championship to the New York Knicks?! He's become a rarely used bench player on a mediocre team. His professional sports highlight is getting hip-tossed by Alonzo Morning.

That being said, before Drew Bledsoe came to Buffalo, he was the best quarterback in the state.
Dan Quinn
Newton, Mass.

An overrated college player on an overrated team. This guy was never even drafted into the NFL and is now playing in the NBA.

I think the Heisman selection and polling had to be fixed this season for Ward to win. Remember, this was the year that Marshall Faulk finished fourth in the balloting, behind Ward, Heath Shuler and David Palmer! I don't know what they were thinking, but this makes selecting 26-year-old Gino Torretta and 28-year-old Chris Weinke as winners almost seem practically reasonable.

Winning the Heisman doesn't mean you have to succeed in the bigs, it just means (at least) that you should be an NFL prospect and the best college player in the nation ... Ward was neither.
Matt Geiszler
San Diego

2. Eric Crouch (58 letters)
Eric Crouch
Eric Crouch called it quits before ever playing in one NFL game.
This terrific all-around athlete single handedly led Nebraska to the national title game (yeah, they didn't deserve to be there and yeah, they did get crushed, but that's besides the point).

He won the Heisman in one of the tightest races ever, with six quarterbacks deserving. Everyone knew he would never play QB at the pro level, no matter how stubborn he was to admit it. And heck, he wasn't half bad as a receiver (you think the Rams would want him now?) But you don't quit before the season begins. How can you lose your love for the game before you even play a snap?

Maybe if you actually gave playing receiver a chance instead of wanting to play QB, you would have fun playing in the greatest offense ever! Just look at Antwaan Randel-El. Crouch could have been something like that, but no. At least Charlie Ward had a reason for never playing a season (ha ha, who else remembers when he was the best QB in New York?). Eric Crouch didn't even try! He was too stubborn and cocky, and he was also the biggest Heisman flop.
Paul
Chicago

I always used to say Gino Torretta after his near fall to the supplemental draft and his subsequent eight waivings -- but Eric Crouch takes the cake.

Retired? Doesn't that involve playing? Did he know the Rams were going to start 0-4?

Here's a guy that won the Heisman despite the fact he wasn't rated one of the top 50 passers in the nation, couldn't get drafted as a QB and then, for all his "vaunted athletic ability," couldn't figure out how to run down the field and catch a ball. Is there any way he can be forced to return the Heisman?
Mark Urciuolo
Alexandria, Va.

Say what you want about many of the other worthy candidates in this field, but at least they put up some numbers! Giving Charlie Ward the benefit of the doubt since he has made a nice living in the NBA, the crown of biggest Heisman flop in the NFL belongs to the most recent winner, Eric Crouch.

It's remarkable -- he simply gave up! At least the Wares and Salaams have one on him, they at least proved they were flops after actually playing the game!
Dan Gerber
Moline, Ill.

3. Andre Ware (41 letters)
Andre Ware
Andre Ware threw for 46 TDs in college but completed just 83 passes in the NFL.
Sure Gino Torretta ended up with nothing and Rashaan Salaam quite possibly suffered from the worst case of fumble-itis ever, but neither of them failed to cut it in the CFL.

I'm not broadsiding the CFL here, but I'm from Ottawa and understand something -- '95 Rough Riders (actually, regardless of year) were not good. In a league where .500 isn't needed to make the playoffs -- they still couldn't handle it! And poor Andre Ware couldn't be the guy on this team? At least Salaam had modest success in his B-league venture. Being a bust in the NFL is one thing, but Ware is a multi-team, multi-league bust.
Mike
Ottawa

Andre for two reasons:
1. Based on the "Football Card Theory of Greatness," Ware's rookie card went from a high of $4 per card to a low of insulting wallpaper in my treehouse. When your buddies chide you for the type of wallpaper in your treehouse, you know things are downright bad.

2. Living in Michigan, I had the chance to see his every play on TV. He was bad ... he was really bad ... And I'm talking in comparison to the rest of the Lions' team here. Ouch.

He was the kind of bad that if it was a date, not only do you not want to talk to this person or even bump into them in the mall ... you stop talking to any mutual friends and briefly consider relocating just to make sure your life is never so utterly ruined again. Probably the only time in the life of a 13-year-old wished that television was never invented. It was ugly.
Will Lion
Washington, D.C.

The hype. The holdout. The bench.

My initial thoughts were for Charlie Ward, however, he wasn't drafted, therefore he had no expectations in the NFL. Andre on the other hand, had huge expectations and never delivered. I believe he may have something to do with the "rookie cap" for draft picks.
Tom Brennan
Cleveland

4. Gino Torretta (39 letters)
Gino Torretta
Gino Torretta benefited from being in Miami at the right time.
The moment Gino Torretta stepped onto the podium to accept the Heisman, my father turned to me and said, "That kid will never make it in the NFL." When I asked him why, he replied, "Because he is wearing white sweatsocks with a black suit." I never doubted my dad again.
Chris
Ewing, N.J.

Oh man, this is a tough choice. Being a Bears fan, I'm partial to naming Rashaan Salaam, but he had at least one good season to his credit (even if he did cough up the ball every other carry). And at least the QB duo of Andre Ware and Danny "Woeful" have played in the NFL for a couple of years (although Woeful's only around because of Spurrier's idiocy).

Anyway, it has to be Gino Torretta. Was there ever any Heisman winner with as underwhelming a pro career as this guy? Drafted in the lowest rounds, cut eight times by five teams and whose career game -- hell, his career -- is all of 41 yards? In NFL terms, Torretta's a complete nonentity.

It's guys like him that NFL Europe was invented for. The sad thing is is that this guy is apparently still trying to make it. Maybe he can qualify under the "Rudy."
Geoff Fyfe
Stevens Point, Wis.

Let's play "Which one of these is not like the other?" -- Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde, Steve Walsh, Gino Torretta, Ken Dorsey.

Torretta is clearly the worst of the lot, and yet he and Testaverde are the only two on the list who won the Heisman. (Testaverde shouldn't have won either, but that's another story.) Torretta was, at best, an adequate quarterback on his best of days, he just happened to be taking the snaps for a powerhouse Miami team. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

It's interesting to note that the year Rashaan Salaam won, the award should have gone to Ki-Jana Carter, who put up almost identical numbers (even though Carter usually didn't even play in the second half ... Joe Pa doesn't run up the score like, say, Tom Osborne did.) If Carter had won the award, he would have topped your list.

I should also note that Penn State went undefeated that year -- playing in the Big 10 -- but didn't get a share of the national championship because the brilliant voters penalized them for not running up the score against Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Their 38-20 victory wasn't, in sportswriter-speak, "convincing" enough. And people complain about the BCS!
Jeffrey Staggs
Baltimore


5. Rashaan Salaam (28 letters)
Rashaan Salaam
Rashaan Salaam's NFL career disintegrated after a good rookie year with the Bears.
He actually had the goods to make it in the NFL. Hard to believe an athlete of his stature could actually become "addicted" to pot. Seems to me he was addicted to being 19 years old and missed Boulder. ... How about adding the year's runner-up to each Heisman flop? Wouldn't that be an interesting comparison.
Chris
Denver

When he was drafted by the Bears, I thought he was our savior (even before the Enis debacle). He proceeded to fumble and smoke his way out the league. Until the A-Train, you have to go back to Neal Anderson to find a good RB in Chicago. Maybe it's the thin air in Colorado, ... but Kordell has had some success ... Salaam -- just a bust.
Tim Grisham
Washington, D.C.

6. Archie Griffin (26 letters)
Archie Griffin
Ohio State's Archie Griffin is the only two-time winner (1974-75) of the Heisman Trophy.
Archie Griffin by default since he got the award twice. Truly, he was a gutless wonder on the field -- Ralph Sampson-esque passion. Of course, he was playing for the Bengals, which could kill anyone's spirit. And it does, every year at about this time.
Chris Vitiello
Durham, N.C.

Walter Payton + Emmitt Smith = 0 Heismans

Archie Griffin = 2 Heismans

Go figure ...
Jeff Christner
Lebanon, Ind.


7. Ron Dayne (33 letters)
Come on Page 2! Granted some of your candidates for biggest Heisman flop have already played out their careers, thus proving their ineptitude. You need some new blood in there so I will drop Ron Dayne's name in the hat.

All he did in college was win a couple of Rose Bowls and become the post prolific run gainer in NCAA Division I football history. After capping off his remarkable career with a Heisman win, he promptly went the way of the dodo and has spent three mediocre, at best, years with the Giants.

When he arrived, he and Tiki "Hut" Barber were Thunder and Lightning ... Must've turned into an electrical storm, the only thunder I have heard from Dayne is his stomach at the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Todd Streeter
Racine, Wis.

Ron Dayne
Ron Dayne seems to have left the thunder behind in Wisconsin.
Overweight. Overrated. Thirty-one rushes, 78 yards, 0 TDs in four games this year.
Nutt
Austin, Texas

He is the fattest, slowest, weakest and most disinterested running back in the NFL. I'd rather hand off to Tom Tupa in a big fourth-and-one situation.

Most of the guys you picked weren't projected to be big time NFL players and were consequently drafted in the lower rounds. Dayne, on the other hand, was being compared to Earl Campbell and projected as a power back who would dominate on the "next level."

This is a guy who shattered every imaginable NCAA rushing record at Wisconsin, surpassing guys such as Ricky Williams, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker and Archie Griffin. Suddenly, he gets to the NFL and his 250 pounds of fat are not scaring anyone. He tries to run like he's Barry Sanders.

How does a guy that big fall down with an arm tackle? I'll tell you how -- no power, speed or acceleration. When he does make a rare run for more than 5 yards, the Giants pull him out of the game. The running joke is he's looking for oxygen and a snack. He's the only guy in New York who makes Mo Vaughn look svelte.
Doug Kay
Stamford, Conn.

8. Danny Wuerffel (25 letters)
Danny Wuerffel
Danny Wuerffel "just never belonged in the NFL."
I'd like to say Charlie Ward, but since there were no NFL minutes out of him, I'll go with Danny Wuerffel instead.

I'm a Saints fan and actually had a high opinion of Wuerffel when Mike Ditka drafted him. But then ... he got out there. To call it a train wreck would be an understatement. Wuerffel was completely overmatched. The most memorable vision I have of him -- getting up with his helmet spun all the way around on his head, and there's Danny, peeking out of an earhole.

He's the only player in league history to go from starter to third team in the span of a week and be happy about it. He's a great guy, and one of the best college players ever, but Wuerffel just never belonged in the NFL.
Matt Hinton
Hattiesburg, Mis.

Anytime you start noticing similarities between a Heisman winner and Tony Banks -- you know he's a bust.
Steve
Rochester, N.Y.

9. Steve Spurrier (21 letters)
I was pretty shocked there was not even a mention of "Super Steve" on this list. He was great at Florida but his nine-year career with the 49ers was spent mostly giving breathers to the aging John Brodie.

With flash-in-the-pan success in 1972 and '73, he floundered for the next two seasons before finishing his career with a whimper by leading the expansion Bucs to an 0-14 record in 1976. He was so highly touted in college that his mediocre pro career makes him a bust. Unfortunately for Mr. Fun-n-Gun, history seems to be repeating in his coaching career as well.
Michael Collins
Haverhill, Mass.

What about "The Old Ball Coach"? Steve Spurrier tore it up in college, but stunk in the pros! The only way he's seeing the Hall of Fame is if Redskins fans forget about Joe Gibbs.
David
Richmond, Va.

10. Ty Detmer (20 letters)
Ty Detmer
Some believe Ty Detmer's college success was due to one big game and padded statistics.
To anyone who ever mentions BYU and BCS in the same conversation, recite a simple two word mantra: Ty Detmer ... Ty Detmer ... Ty Detmer ...

Let the absurdity of the statement penetrate the mind of anyone who thinks, for even a moment, that BYU is an actual big-time program. When this BYU Heisman winner hit the big time, he flopped like Orrin Hatch on an ethics exam. He deserves the No. 1 spot on this list.
Greg Allison
Las Cruces, N.M.

Here's a guy who was left in every game, no matter how big BYU's lead was, just so he could get his precious 300 yards per consecutive game passing record. He and/or his coach Lavell Edwards even admitted as much in an article in the Fort Collins newspaper in 1990 (Look it up!). So he ends up with a zillion yard passing and a Heisman -- after that, he rides the bench for how many teams?
L.A. Smith
Iowa City, Iowa

Ty Detmer was a flop before he even got out of college. He had one good game against Miami and people thought he was the greatest. Raghib Ismail should have won it.
Tom
Lexington, Va.