Character is often mistakenly ignored when voters select the Heisman winner. It is something that should be taken into greater consideration.
After all, the Heisman Trust Mission Statement reads as follows,
“The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and integrity of this award. The Trust, furthermore, has a charitable mission to support amateur athletics and to provide greater opportunities to the youth of our country. Our goal through these charitable endeavors is for the Heisman Trophy to symbolize the fostering of a sense of community responsibility and service to our youth, especially those disadvantaged or afflicted. All assets of the Trust beyond the expense of maintaining the annual presentation of the Heisman Memorial Trophy are reserved for such charitable causes. The Trustees, who all serve pro bono, are guided by a devotion to college football and are committed to community service and the valued tradition, which the Trophy represents.”
Given this mission statement, is there really any other choice this year than Te’o?
Surprisingly some winners have displayed questionable character.
In 2010 Auburns Cam Newton won the award. While there’s no denying Newton’s athletic ability, his character can certainly be put to question. According to Fox Sports: "Newton had three separate instances of academic cheating while attending the University of Florida. He also faced charges of burglary, larceny and obstruction of justice after a stolen laptop was found in his possession."
Voters are instructed to select "the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity."
Its a shame too many Heisman voters ignore that final word because character, integrity and ethics all matter.
Manti Te'o is a great football player but first and foremost he is a leader both on and off the field.
Te’o made the decision to return for his senior year at Notre Dame. He passed up millions of dollars in a draft where he would have certainly gone in the first round. When Te'o returned, very few expected to see the Notre Dame program undergo such a drastic turnaround. After finishing unranked last season, Notre Dame evolved into an undefeated squad.
In September the Hawaiian lost both his girlfriend and grandmother within 24 hours. The day of his girlfriend's funeral, he led the Irish to victory over their arch rival Michigan Wolverines, hauling in two interceptions. Talk about heroics....
Battling tragedy and heartache, Te'o has overcome his adversities with class, dignity and maturity. It shouldn't matter that he plays on the defensive side of the ball. Nobody in college football better personifies the values of the Heisman Trophy, on or off the field, than Te'o.
He graduated as an Academic All-American and hits the opposition even harder than the books. After his junior season Te’o turned down NFL riches and restored one of the most historic college football programs to glory.
Just last week Te'o earned the national sportsmanship award from the Awards and Recognition Association.
While Johnny Football is an outstanding quarterback and the face of the Aggies program, he doesn't come anywhere near Te'o when it comes to heart and character.