Teenager Jameis Winston Wins the 2013 Heisman Trophy

Howard Goldin

New York, NY—The most prestigious award to an individual player in college football, The Heisman Trophy, was presented on Saturday night to Jameis Winston of Florida State University. Flanked by two dozen former winners, the victor of the third most one-sided victory in the 79 year history of the Heisman Trophy, lifted the trophy in exultation.

Winston, a young man of 19 years of age, is the youngest winner of this honor. It was only in the current decade that this award was presented to an underclassman. The voters broke tradition in 2007 by electing the first sophomore, Tim Tebow of the Florida Gators. Sophomores were also chosen the next two years, Sam Bradford of Oklahoma in 2008 and Mark Ingram of Alabama in 2009.

Last year, another barrier was broken when Johnny Manziel of Texas A & M became the first freshman to capture the honor. He was succeeded this week by another freshman quarterback, even younger than he was on his victory last year.

Perhaps his youth or the recent legal problems he lived through made him say the following after his election, “For you to be a man, the kid in you must die. I believe that kid in me has died. I’m always going to have my personality. I’m always going to have my character, but I have to become a man.” Hopefully, the teenager who is only a freshman in college and exhibited a sense of humor in his few days in NYC will one day realize he can fulfill his adult responsibilities while maintaining the humor of a child.

In his remarks to the press, he continually spoke of his parents and what they instilled in him that led to his current success. He spoke of how much he and his family loved being in New York and as a fan of the New York Yankees, his disappointment at the loss of Robinson Cano.

He expressed how much winning the Heisman victory meant to him, but also about what he considers his next accomplishment, winning the national championship, “I’m still hungry because we have a national championship to win.” The BCS title game between Florida State and Auburn will be played on January 6, Winston’s 20th birthday. Winston rhetorically asked, “How many people could say they won the championship on their birthday.”

For the first time in the 79 year history of the Heisman, six candidates were invited to New York City for the public and press events as well as the ceremony and dinner. Each of the six finalists invited to the ceremony in New York City compiled astounding statistics during the regular college season that recently ended. Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois, Manziel, Tre Mason of Auburn, AJ McConnell of Alabama, Andre Williams of Boston College and Winston had week after week of success throughout the fall of 2013.

Despite what each accomplished this year, the plurality of Winston’s win was exceeded only by OJ Simpson, who had 1,750 votes more than the second place finisher, and Troy Smith in 2006, who had 1,662 votes more than the runner-up. Winston received 2,205 votes and McConnell, the runner-up, received 704 votes.

New York is not the national center of college football. The visit of each finalist and his family to New York City during the holiday season is not primarily intended to be a treat, but rather is because the award originated and continues to be connected to the city. The honor, then called the Downtown Athletic Club (DAC), was first awarded to Jay Berwnager of the University of Chicago in 1935. In that year, the winner was considered the Outstanding College Football Player East of the Mississippi. The award has since become a national honor.

Why is Heisman on the name of the trophy? John W. Heisman was a college football coach for 35 years at such institutions as Georgia Tech, Texas, Auburn, Clemson, Rice and his alma mater, Pennsylvania. After his coaching career concluded, Heisman was the athletic director of the DAC and was involved when the trophy that later bore his name was founded. After his death in October 1936, the trophy, that had only been awarded once, was named in his honor.