A new record has been set, although it’s not one anyone is celebrating.
The Heisman Trophy of the late Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam has been sold at an auction for a record price of $399,608. That number beats out the previous record held by Bruce Smith, a 1941 winner out of Minnesota, whose stiffarm trophy sold for $395,240 in 2005. The winner of Saturday’s auction is not immediately known.
Salaam passed away in 2016 in a death that was ruled as a suicide. He was 42. His Heisman was put up for auction last month, with a target price of $300,000. CTE is believed to be a motivator in his suicide, and the record funds will be used to contribute to CTE research.
How Salaam’s trophy went up for auction in the first place is a point of considerable controversy. The official story is that Salaam sold his trophy in 2014 to a memorabilia collector — winners are officially prohibited from selling their trophies, though who’s going to stop them? — who sold it to Denver real estate investor Tyler Tysdal, who put it up for Saturday’s auction and says he has a signed letter of authenticity from the winner himself and an invoice. However, Salaam’s mother believes it was stolen.
“When we went to Boulder to bury Rashaan … I didn’t see it in his apartment,” Khalada said. “I thought it was in a restaurant or something. I thought it would pop up,” Khalada Salaam told CBS Sports. “It didn’t pop up.”
Salaam won the 1994 Heisman as a junior running back for Colorado. He rushed for 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns while helping the Buffaloes finish 10-1 with a No. 4 final ranking. He beat out Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter, Alcorn State quarterback Steve McNair and Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins for the honor.
Salaam entered the NFL draft in 1995, where he was selected in the first round by the Chicago Bears.