Jameis Winston

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Joe Burrow joins Cam Newton in exclusive NFL draft club: Heisman Trophy, national title, No. 1 pick in succession

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Make some room for a new member of a super-elite triple crown club, Cam Newton. Joe Burrow is moving in.

In 2011, Newton became the first player in football history to win a Heisman Trophy, win the national championship, and then immediately go on to be the No. 1 overall pick of the NFL Draft in sequence. The former Auburn quarterback took the Tigers on a magical run to the SEC title and a BCS national championship while taking home Auburn’s third Heisman Trophy in program history. The Carolina Panthers kept the story rolling a few months later by taking Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, making him the franchise quarterback for (nearly) the next decade.

While there have been a couple of Heisman Trophy winners since Newton to be chosen with the top overall pick (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, both of Oklahoma), and a few others have obviously been drafted elsewhere, Newton remained in a club all to himself. Until now.

LSU’s Joe Burrow was selected with the top overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft on Thursday night by the Cincinnati Bengals. This is just the latest chapter of Burrow’s remarkable story. Like Newton, Burrow went on a historic run with LSU last season to run away with the 2019 Heisman Trophy en route to an SEC title and, later, a College Football Playoff national championship.

As if the SEC needed anything else to brag about when it comes to the NFL draft. Now the conference has been home to the only two players to pull off this triple crown of football achievement.

NOTE: Florida State fans have been vocal in reminding me about Jameis Winston. Winston did win the Heisman Trophy and a national championship before later going on to be the No. 1 overall pick, but he played one more year of college football before turning pro after winning the Heisman and the national championship. The headline has been adjusted to attempt making this a bit more accurate. Apologies from the writer to Florida State fans. And Winston.

Joe Burrow follows Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray for Heisman Trophy first in NFL draft

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Former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has helped to make some NFL draft history. By being named the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night, Burrow was the third consecutive Heisman Trophy winner to go No. 1 overall in the following draft. This is the first time in draft and Heisman Trophy history that the No. 1 overall draft pick won the Heisman Trophy the previous season.

Burrow was chosen with the top overall pick one year after 2018 Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray of Oklahoma was selected with the top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. The previous year, in 2018, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma was selected with the first overall pick by the Cleveland Browns. Mayfield took home the Heisman Trophy in 2017.

Burrow is the 23rd Heisman Trophy player to go No. 1 overall in the NFL draft. Another LSU icon, Billy Cannon, pulled off the accomplishment in 1960 after winning the Heisman Trophy in 1959. The only other schools to have multiple Heisman Trophy winners that were chosen first overall in the draft are Oklahoma (4), Notre Dame (3), USC (2), and Auburn (2).

Heisman Trophy Winners Drafted No. 1 Overall in NFL Draft

  • 1935 – Jay Berwanger – Chicago (Philadelphia Eagles)
  • 1940 – Tom Harmon – Michigan (Chicago Bears)
  • 1942 – Frank Sinkwich – Georgia (Detroit Lions)
  • 1943 – Angelo Bertelli – Notre Dame (Boston Yanks)
  • 1949 – Leon Hart – Notre Dame (Detroit Lions)
  • 1956 – Paul Hornung – Notre Dame (Green Bay Packers)
  • 1959 – Billy Cannon – LSU (Los Angeles Rams)
  • 1961 – Ernie Davis – Syracuse (Washington Redskins)
  • 1962 – Terry Baker – Oregon State (Los Angeles Rams)
  • 1969 – O.J. Simpson – USC (Buffalo Bills)
  • 1970 – Jim Plunkett – Stanford (New England Patriots)
  • 1977 – Earl Campbell – Texas (Houston Oilers)
  • 1978 – Billy Sims – Oklahoma (Detroit Lions)
  • 1980 – George Rogers – South Carolina (New Orleans Saints)
  • 1985 – Bo Jackson – Auburn (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  • 1986 – Vinnie Testaverde – Miami (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  • 2002 – Carson Palmer – USC (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • 2008Sam Bradford – Oklahoma (St. Louis Rams)
  • 2010Cam Newton – Auburn (Carolina Panthers)
  • 2013Jameis Winston – Florida State (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  • 2017 – Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma (Cleveland Browns)
  • 2018 – Kyler Murray — Oklahoma (Arizona Cardinals)
  • 2019 – Joe Burrow, LSU (Cincinnati Bengals)

Murray and Mayfield completed a pretty rare feat as the top picks of the draft in back-to-back years. The 2018 and 2019 drafts marked the first time the top overall picks in consecutive seasons had come out of the same school since 1968 and 1969. USC’s Ron Yary and O.J. Simpson went No.1  overall in those years, respectively.

So, the pressure is on for whoever ends up winning the 2020 Heisman Trophy. The bar has certainly been raised.

FSU settles lawsuit with Jameis Winston accuser

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Florida State has officially taken yet another step in putting the Jameis Winston off-field circus deeper in its rearview mirror.

The university announced Monday afternoon that it has settled a Title IX federal lawsuit filed by Erica Kinsman last year.  Kinsman had accused Winston, the former Seminoles quarterback, of raping her in December of 2012 while she was a student and he was a year away from winning the Heisman Trophy.

Kinsman will receive $950,000 from the university as part of the settlement, $700,000 of which will go to her attorneys.  USA Today also wrote that “[t]he lump sum is the largest settlement for Title IX claims regarding indifference to a student’s sexual assault.”

Additionally, FSU has agreed to make a five-year commitment toward programs that will, in part, help prevent sexual assaults on campus.

As part of the settlement, the university did not admit to any wrongdoing in connection to Kinsman’s allegations against Winston.

“Although we regret we will never be able to tell our full story in court, it is apparent that a trial many months from now would have left FSU fighting over the past rather than looking toward its very bright future,” said FSU president John Thrasher in a statement. “We have decided to instead move forward even though we have full faith that the ultimate outcome of a trial would have been consistent with the previous law enforcement investigations and retired Supreme Court Justice Major Harding’s findings in the student conduct hearing. …

“We have an obligation to our students, their parents and Florida taxpayers to deal with this case, as we do all litigation, in a financially responsible manner,” Thrasher said in a statement. “With all the economic demands we face, at some point it doesn’t make sense to continue even though we are convinced we would have prevailed.”

Kinsman, who was reportedly forced to leave campus after her allegations made her a target of some FSU football fans, was understandably pleased with the outcome.

“I will always be disappointed that I had to leave the school I dreamed of attending since I was little,” Kinsman said in her statement confirming the settlement. “I am happy that FSU has committed to continue making changes in order to ensure a safer environment for all students.”

In January of 2015, Kinsman filed the Title IX lawsuit, seeking a trial by jury and damages, against the university’s trustees.  In the suit, it was claimed that the university was responsible for Title IX violations because of a ‘clearly unreasonable response’” to the sexual assault allegations and “allowing a ‘hostile educational environment.’”

Winston was never charged criminally in connection to the allegations of sexual assault. The lawsuit was filed nearly three weeks after Winston was cleared in the school code of conduct hearing, which was also connected to the rape allegations.  The accuser appealed that ruling, but it was subsequently upheld.

In April of 2014, attorney’s for the accuser blasted the university for either delaying or outright terminating a Title IX investigation into the allegations. Five months later, it was reported that the university had reopened the investigation.

Winston’s adviser subsequently released a scathing statement claiming that the accuser was the one dragging her feet when it came to the federally-mandated investigation.  That adviser, David Cornwell, also accused the alleged victim’s camp of seeking $7 million from Winston to keep quiet.

Also in April of 2014, it was reported that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has launched its own investigation into FSU’s handling of the case.  That investigation is open and ongoing.

Cam Newton could become third QB with college, Super Bowl title

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A little over five years ago, Auburn — behind Heisman-winning quarterback Cam Newton — beat Oregon in the BCS Championship. Two weeks from now, Newton will have an opportunity to join a list that currently is only populated by Joe Namath and Joe Montana.

Namath (Alabama, New York Jets) and Montana (Notre Dame, San Francisco 49ers) are the only two quarterbacks in football history to start for a college football champion and win a Super Bowl. Newton would be the third.

Of course, guys like Tom Brady and Ken Stabler were backups at Michigan and Alabama, respectively, and went on to win a Super Bowl (in Brady’s case, Super Bowls) as a pro. Troy Aikman started for part of Oklahoma’s 1985 championship team, but was injured in October and missed the Sooners’ last push to a title. Joe Flacco lost the 2007 FCS Championship to Appalachian State, while Steve Young (BYU) and Peyton Manning (Tennessee) both left college a year before their schools won championships.

College football’s recent quarterback champions don’t lend a ton of hope that anyone will join Namath, Montana and potentially Newton anytime soon. Jameis Winston has the best chance, and A.J. McCarron started for Cincinnati after Andy Dalton got hurt.

But consider the list of quarterbacks to win a college title since 2000: Josh Heupel (now Mizzou’s offensive coordinator), Ken Dorsey (now Newton’s QB coach with the Panthers), Craig Krenzel (now a motivational speaker and founded an insurance company), Matt Mauck (who’s a dentist), Matt Leinart (who’s now a talking head for FOX Sports), Vince Young (who has a steakhouse in Austin and was arrested for DWI on Monday), Chris Leak (who’s a staffer with the Buccaneers), Matt Flynn (who most recently was the Saints’ backup), Tim Tebow (now a talking head for ESPN), Greg McElroy (now a talking head — and an underrated one — for ESPN), Newton, McCarron, Winston, Cardale Jones (who’s turning pro this year) and Jacob Coker (who’s collegiate eligibility is up).

A not-so-surprising Heisman Trophy first in NFC Championship Game

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The NFL’s conference championship weekend is set with another bout between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the AFC and the top two teams in the NFC, Arizona and Carolina, going toe-to-toe for the NFC championship. While there will be plenty of attention given to yet another meeting between Manning and Brady, the NFC Championship Game is making some history with a college football twist. With Cam Newton of the Panthers and Carson Palmer of the Cardinals set to start in the NFC Championship Game, we will see the first NFL postseason meeting between two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks.

At first glance, that comes across as a surprising factoid to consume, but it should not come across as a major shock. Given the track record of Heisman Trophy winner sin the NFL, we already know the Heisman Trophy is far from a guarantee for sustained NFL success. This is especially true for quarterbacks, although the jury is still out on a number of the more recent Heisman-winning QBs (Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota offer some good promise, and who knows if there is still time to save Robert Griffin III, for example). Also keep in mind that for the majority of the history of the Heisman Trophy, running backs were the dominant position before the turn of the 21st century gave way to quarterbacks taking control of the award more often than not.

Take a look through Heisman history and look at the quarterbacks who have won the stiff-arm trophy over the years. Just two quarterbacks won the award in the 1960s, Navy’s Roger Staubach and Notre Dame’s John Huarte. Staubach went on to have a stellar career. Huarte? Not so much. Two quarterbacks won the Heisman in the 1970s, and once again the careers of Jim Plunkett of Stanford and Pat Sullivan of Auburn took drastically different paths. Of the three quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy in the 1980s (Doug Flutie, Andre Ware, Vinny Testaverde), only Miami’s Testaverde proved to have a sustained NFL career, which included a couple of solid runs here and there, but he almost never faced another Heisman-winning QB during his lengthy career.

The 1990s saw four quarterbacks win the Heisman Trophy. Ty Detmer was essentially a career backup. Gino Torretta‘s run in the NFL was brief. Danny Wuerffel did not fare too much better. And Charlie Ward went on to play in the NBA instead of the NFL. Ward may have been the best NFL QB out of that bunch had he focused on the NFL instead.

Even the quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy since 2000 have been farther from competing for an NFL conference championship more often than not. This weekend, 2002 Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer just won his first postseason game as a starting quarterback since blowing out Iowa in the 2003 Orange Bowl. 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke has an NFC Championship ring, but that came as a backup. 2001 winner Eric Crouch played four years in the NFL with three teams and ended his playing career in the short-lived UFL with the Omaha Nighthawks. 2003 winner Jason White was not even drafted and stepped away due to bad knees. 2004 winner Matt Leinart never lived up to his perceived potential in Arizona and moved on to Houston, Oakland and Buffalo before getting into TV. 2006 winner Troy Smith was a career back-up, for the most part, behind Steve McNair and Joe Flacco in Baltimore. Sam Bradford has been plagued by injuries and Robert Griffin III is looking to rejuvenate his career in a new situation in 2016. And I’m even going to spare you the talk about Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel.

One more piece of information to keep in mind was the AFC and NFC Championship Game structure was not utilized until 1970 when the NFL merged with the AFL. For an award that was first handed out in 1935, that cuts out a number of quarterbacks from even having the possibility to play in an NFL conference championship game (Davey O’BrienAngelo Bertelli, Lee Horvath, Johnny Lujack, Paul Hornung, Terry Baker).

So yes, it is surprising we have not seen a matchup of Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks in an NFL postseason game before, but it is not at all shocking given the history of the Heisman Trophy. And no, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady never won the Heisman Trophy either.