Category Archives: Heisman Trophy Winner

Leinart, Matt

Card: Donruss Rookies & Stars 2010, Score 2009
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Home
Sent: 9/25 Received: 2/11 (139 days)

Matt Leinart attended USC and played QB for the Trojans, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2004 and multiple awards during his college career. After taking over for Carson Palmer in 2003, Leinart won Associated Press National Championships in 2003 and 2004, and would’ve capped off his Senior year with another victory- if not for that pesky Texas Longhorns squad in the Rose Bowl. He’d finish as the Trojans all-time leading cumulative passer in many categories including completion percentage (64.8%) and TDs (99).

He’d be selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the 10th overall pick of the 2006 draft. Contentious negotiations caused a holdout, and as a result Kurt Warner stepped up as starter. Still Matt played well during his rookie season, setting a new benchmark for a rookie, in single-game passing yardage with 405 yards, against the Vikings. He’d start 11 games in the end, but sprain his shoulder to conclude his rookie year. The numbers weren’t bad for a rookie campaign, especially since it was the Cardinals. Matt had 2547 yards and 11 TDs to 12 interceptions. – This would actually represent a high mark statistically for his career.

Handed the starting QB job by new coach Ken Whisenhunt in 2007, Leinart broke his collarbone in early October- ending his season. He’d finish with 647 yards passing and 2 TDs in 5 starts. Warner took over as starter in 2008 as Matt rode the bench playing sporadically through 2009. He’d again regain the mantle as starter in 2010, but lose out in camp to Derek Anderson, and later be cut by the team.

The Houston Texans signed Matt as their backup to incumbent Matt Schaub, but he didn’t see any significant playing time. The Texans were having one of their finest seasons in 2011, but after Matt Schaub suffered a lins franc injury, Leinart stepped in as starter against the Jags. At first everybody waited with baited breath to see what Leinart would do, but he came out firing going 10 of 13 for 57 yards and a TD- before he broke his collarbone and yielding to the legend known as ‘TJ Yates’. Leinart again finished on IR for the season.

Cut by the Houston Texans in 2012, Matt played for the Raiders for one season- backing up former teammate Carson Palmer. He’d then be in camp briefly for the Bills in 2013, but after being cut, elected to retire.

I was not a great fan of Matt Leinart. After he played at USC, and then lost to the University of Texas in the Rose Bowl, he was I guess, caught off guard, and just said all the wrong things to the camera. It pretty much set up my dislike for him, as I felt he was trying to take something away from UT for beating the Trojans in the game.

It’s whatever. I think we’re the better football team. You know, they just made the plays in the end.

What I got out of it was, “The best team didn’t win today,” And unfortunately when you lose any game, you are not the best team on that given day- so I though the comment reeked of bad sportsmanship- especially when the best team is the one that always wins!

When he came to the Texans, I was initially not happy about the arrangement at all, but mellowed on him after listening to how he’d changed his life and abandoned his hard partying ways. He grew on me, and I was actually sad when the team cut him in 2012.

As of 2019, Matt does studio analysis for Fox Sports College Football. I had hoped to corral Matt at the Longhorns USC game in 2018, but he didn’t appear, so I went ahead and gave him a shot in the dark after getting some encouragement and tips from my friend Deadhorse. After 4 months or so I got quite a jolt out of getting both of these autographs back- that’s for sure!

G/GPATTCPDYDSPCTTDINTRAT
33/18641366406557.1%152170.2
RUSHYDSAVGTDLG
47892.7220

Rogers, George

Cards: Upper Deck Legends 1997, Panini Contenders 2018
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o The George Rogers Foundation*
Sent: 10/20    Received: 11/9       (20 days)
* Donation Enclosed 

George Rogers played runningback for the South Carolina Gamecocks from 1977 to 1980. He really helped put South Carolina’s football team on the map by winning the Heisman Trophy in 1980, when George rushed 297 times for 1781 yards and 14 TDs. He finished his college career pretty much owning all the Gamecock career rushing marks with 927 carries for 5091 yards and 31 TDs, along with 43 receptions for 389 yards and 2 TDs. 

The moribund New Orleans Saints finally caught a break, and with George selected #1 overall by the team, he’d help transform the team from a perennial cellar dweller and give New Orleans an identity. George came out of the gates running. He’d be named rookie of the year in 1981 after he led the league in carries (378), yards (1674) and average yards per game (104.6). He’d also haul in a career high 16 receptions for 126 yards and score 13 total touchdowns. George played for the Saints over the next 3 seasons before being traded in a blockbuster trade to Washington in exchange for their first round pick. 

The second stanza of Rogers’ career began in Washington, as George replaced an aging John Riggins in the backfield for head coach Joe Gibbs. George posted 2 more 1000+ yard seasons in 1985 and 1986, leading the NFL in TDs with 18 in the latter. He’d win a Super Bowl Title in 1987, but shortly after the season announce his retirement at the age of 29- due in part to nagging injuries.

You see, Rogers was a big back and he absorbed a lot of hits over his career.  Concussions and lingering knee injuries did their part to cut it short. Looking back at how aggressively the Redskins loved to run the ball, one wonders where George would’ve stood in the NFL record books if he hadn’t retired so soon. Hypothetically, if we just go with George’s Redskins average of 71 yards per game and multiply that out over the course of a 16 game schedule- that’s 1136 yards. 3 more years like that and he’d have been a member of the 10k club and a probable member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Regardless Rogers has enjoyed receiving accolades since retirement, being named to the College Football Hall of Fame, having his number retired by his Alma Mater, and various other tributes from South Carolina and the Saints.

I had been thinking about getting him on a few cards since he sort of flies under the radar now and these two really fit the bill nicely. I think the way George played in his career, he is well regarded as a member of both the Saints and the Redskins and this Upper Deck 1997 really does it up right. Although he got some fingerprint stains on my Contenders card, I really like the photo and framing of this set. Panini Contenders seems to do it right for me design wise, since most sets since 2010 really do not intrigue me as much as they used to.

G/GSRUSHYDSAVGTDLG
92/78169271764.25479t
RECYDSAVGTDLG
553686.7025

Griffin, Robert ‘RGIII’

Cards: Upper Deck College Football Heroes 1991
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o The Baltimore Ravens
Sent:  4/19  Received: 10/19  (183  days)

I remembered two years ago when RGIII took a pitstop in Cleveland. I noted that he signed a few cards TTM for fans via the team facilities. I missed out on getting his autograph earlier in 2018 when he opened a Dick’s Sporting Goods in Waco-  and that one I was kicking myself over.  Spoodog gave me this giant box of cards, and in it was a set of College Football Heroes Robert Griffin cards. Since these beauties really stood out, I said, “Why not?” I decided to shoot out this beautiful card of his to Baltimore and give it a shot.

A few days before I got this back I started seeing some activity/ returns from him and was cautiously optimistic, so when I opened this letter and got this beautiful autograph, I was quite happy. This is a great looking card accented by a perfectly placed autograph.

Robert Griffin is the gem in the crown of the Baylor Bears sports program. He had a storied career playing in Waco, really putting the forgotten about sports program back on the map from 2008-2011. Under the tutelage of Art Briles, he matured as a passer, while displaying incredible speed slashing up defenses -and pulling rabbits out of his hat while in the pocket. Shattering many long held single, season, and career records for the school, it was his 2011 season that earned him the Heisman Trophy for his efforts. RGIII finished with 4293 yards, on 402/291 (72.4%), with 37 TDs to just 6 interceptions. He also rushed the ball 161 times for 699 yards and 10 TDs. 

Pushing himself into the conversation as the #1 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Griffin was selected by the Washington Redskins (who traded away a king’s ransom to select him) at the #2 overall spot. Robert had an overall solid rookie season, leading the Redskins to the playoffs. He’d throw for 3200 yards flat with 20 TDs to 5 interceptions, but it’d be on the ground he’d carve up and frustrate opposing offenses. RGIII finished with a rookie QB record 815 yards on 120 carries- going in for 7 TDs including an improbable 76 yard long. His 815 yards, 76 yard long, and 7 TDs would all be rookie QB records. RGIII also led the NFL with a 6.8 yards per carry average. Robert won the Rookie of the Year Honors and was named to the Pro Bowl.

It’d be during the playoffs that he’d push himself a bit too much. Trying to heroically play through a  knee injury against the Seahawks Griffin ended up tearing both his LCL and ACL. He was able to recover in time for the 2013 season but experienced Sophomore jitters. Then he got caught in a QB controversy with Kirk Cousins in 2014 and by 2016, Griffin, was unceremoniously cut.

Snatched up by the Browns, it was expected he’d rejuvenate his career there with Cleveland, but with little tools to work with RGIII struggled in his lone season there. He’d win one game as starter, while posting a line of 87 completions (59.2%) for 886 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions. Robert also rushed 31 times for 190 yards and 2 TDs. Again cut after the season, RGIII was eventually signed by the Baltimore Ravens after a long free agency period. By then RGIII was being treated as an afterthought.

But in the feel good NFL story of the 2018 year, Griffin forced his way into the conversation in Baltimore. After the franchise selected Lamar Thomas- the heir apparent to Joe Flacco, it was thought that the Ravens- a franchise notorious for carrying only 2 QBs would not keep RGIII. Griffin had a spectacular preseason and made the final roster for 2019.