Why have we become so obsessed with pinning our hopes for the future to an unproven athlete? How many football players have risen to greatness from the fifth round of the draft or lower? How many first-rounders have failed? How many Heisman Trophy winners couldn't make it in the pros? It would be easier to name the ones that did make it, or at least the ones that are still in the public eye that adored them so much in college.
For this article, I did more research than I like to do, ever. The list of recent Heisman Trophy winners reads a lot like a list of actors that were famous in the early 70's—I only recognize a couple and few seem to still get steady work. Here it is:
— 1991 - Desmond Howard: Proved himself a lethal kick returner, as well as earned a Super Bowl MVP award.
— 1992 - Gino Torretta: (Who?) Played 2 professional games in 3 years.
— 1993 - Charlie Ward: In a show of either ingratitude or incredible foresight, currently plays for the NBA's Houston Rockets.
— 1994 - Rashaan Salaam: Had a great rookie year at running back, but only lasted 2 more years.
— 1995 - Eddie George: Became a 3 time Pro-Bowler and long time starting running back. He can definitely be considered a success.
— 1996 - Danny Wuerffel: Played 6 years (25 games, 10 starts) with 12 TDs and 22 INTs; not so good.
— 1997 - Charles Woodson: Has played 9 NFL seasons and can be considered a very formidable defensive back.
— 1998 - Ricky Williams: Has accumulated 7,079 rushing yards and 1,899 receiving yards, but this crazy kid just can't seem to stop "expanding" his views and munching on Funyuns.
— 1999 - Ron Dayne: 7 years in the NFL, but only 14 starts. I guess being the all-time NCAA rusher doesn't mean much to professional D-linemen.
— 2000 - Chris Weinke: Started all 15 games he played in 2001; he's only started 1 out of 6 games since.
— 2001 - Eric Crouch: Has retired twice, was most recently cut by the Packers and is trying out as a safety with the Chiefs. He hasn't played in any games. I didn't know any of this, but I love knowing it now.
— 2002 - Carson Palmer: Has started all 29 games he has played in. He also posted a 101 QB rating last year. As it stands, he's the best-looking Heisman winner still out there that isn't most likely a drug mule.
— 2003 - Jason White: Well, I don't know. I wasn't looking real hard, but I couldn't find anything after he decided to return to the Sooners for one more season. Then I lost interest.
— 2004 - Matt Leinart: Elected to stay with USC for his senior year. Then he lost the National Championship and dropped his 2006 draft status to 10th.
— 2005 - Reggie Bush: To be determined. For now we just have commercials to convince us of how good he will be.
I'm not sure to whom I should address my parting advice (Bush? ESPN? Commercial writers in general?), so let's leave this as advice in general. By taking an incredibly literal and humorless interpretation of one commercial, I have come to a conclusion: this commercial should have been saved for next year when maybe, just maybe, Bush will have some stats to back up why anyone should take him in a fantasy football draft, or why he should even play at all. Being a Heisman Trophy winner isn't enough. After all, the higher the pedestal, the longer the fall.