By Brian Kalchik @BrianKalchik on May 13, 2014
The Heisman Trophy award began in 1935, and over the years, each winner of the award has tried to duplicate their successes in college to the NFL. While some have faltered, some have ultimately succeeded. With the recent wave of Heisman Trophy winners, including Johnny Manziel, looking to succeed in the NFL as a rookie this season, I thought it would be appropriate to find the 10 greatest Heisman Trophy winners in NFL history.
Eddie George won the Heisman Trophy in 1995 as a running back for Ohio State. The following season, the Houston Oilers selected George with the 14th overall pick. George played for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans from 1996-2003 and one season with the Dallas Cowboys in 2004. George was named to four Pro Bowls as a Oiler/Titan and helped the franchise reach their first Super Bowl in the 1999 season.
Paul Hornung was the main running back for the Green Bay Packers during Vince Lombardi's tenure. Hornung played from 1957 to 1962, and then from 1964-66 after a gambling suspension in 1963. Hornung won the Heisman Trophy award as a running back out of Notre Dame in 1956, but with the Packers, Hornung became a four-time champion in Green Bay and a Hall of Famer in 1986.
Jim Plunkett was a quarterback at Stanford where he won the Heisman Trophy award in 1970. Plunkett was also the No. 1 overall draft pick of the New England Patriots in 1971. Plunkett played for New England, San Francisco as well as the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, winning two Super Bowl with the Raiders. Plunkett was the MVP of Super Bowl XV and was never voted on to any Pro Bowl or All-Pro teams during his career.
Charles Woodson was a cornerback for the University of Michigan, and won the Heisman Trophy award in 1997. The Oakland Raiders selected Woodson in the 1998 NFL Draft with the No. 4 overall pick and helped the Raiders reach Super Bowl 37 in 2003. Woodson then joined the Green Bay Packers in 2006, and helped the Packers win Super Bowl 45 despite a broken collarbone suffered in the game. Woodson was a member of the 2000's NFL All-Decade team.
Tony Dorsett won the Heisman Trophy award in 1976 while he was playing for the University of Pittsburgh. Dorsett was then selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1977 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Dorsett played for the Cowboys from 1977 to 1987, and for the Denver Broncos in 1988. During his career, Dorsett helped the Cowboys win Super Bowl 12 and reach Super Bowl 13. Dorsett was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
Marcus Allen, before becoming a star running back for the Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, won the Heisman Trophy award in 1981 at USC. The Los Angeles Raiders made Allen the No. 10 overall pick in the 1982 NFL draft. Allen played for the Raiders from 1982 to 1992, and then the Kansas City Chiefs from 1993 to 1997. Allen became Super Bowl MVP in Los Angeles' Super Bowl 18 victory and became a Hall of Famer in 2003.
Earl Campbell won the Heisman Trophy in 1977, when he was playing for the University of Texas. The following year, the Houston Oilers made him the No. 1 overall pick in 1978. Campbell played for the Houston Oilers from 1978-84, and then New Orleans in 1984 and 1985. During his career, Campbell led the Oilers to back to back AFC Championship game appearances in 1978 and 1979. Campbell was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991.
Before becoming a Hall of Famer with the Buffalo Bills, O.J. Simpson won the Heisman Trophy award in 1968 for the USC Trojans. Simpson was selected No. 1 overall draft pick by the Buffalo Bills in 1969 and played there until 1977 before a stint in San Francisco from 1978-79. Simpson retired as the NFL's all-time leading rusher and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
Roger Staubach won the Heisman Trophy award in 1963 as quarterback for the Navy Midshipmen. The next year, Staubach was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1964 but didn't play for them until 1969. Staubach was with the Cowboys from 1969 to 1979, helping the Cowboys reach four Super Bowls in the 1970's, winning two. Staubach was the MVP of Super Bowl VI and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
Barry Sanders won the Heisman Trophy in 1988, while running the ball for Oklahoma State. Detroit picked Sanders No. 3 overall in 1989. Sanders played for the Lions from 1989-1998 and was a 10-Time Pro Bowler, a 10-time All-Pro and the second leading rusher in NFL history when he retired. Sanders was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004 and is widely regarded as one of the top five running backs of all-time.
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