What chance does the A11 Football League have of having a former Heisman Trophy winner on the field when it begins play?
If history is any guide, that chance is pretty good.
The modern history of outdoor alternative professional football leagues has a deep tradition of Heisman Trophy winners hitting their fields.
- The United States Football League (1983-85) signed three Heisman winners right out of college – Georgia running back Herschel Walker (1982), Nebraska running back Mike Rozier (1983) and Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie (1984). Flutie, a 12-year National Football League veteran, also spent eight seasons in the Canadian Football League, winning three Grey Cups and earning a spot in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
- Houston quarterback Andre Ware (1989) played in two other leagues following a short NFL career, seeing time in the Canadian Football League and NFL Europe. Ironically, Ware backed up Flutie as a member of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts in 1997.
- Miami (Fla.) quarterback Gino Torretta (1992) was part of the European-only restart of the World League of American Football, starting the first half of the 1995 season for the Rhein Fire before getting injured.
- Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam (1994) finished his professional career in 2001 with an injury-plagued season for the Memphis Maniax.
- Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel (1996), in the middle of an NFL career which spanned six seasons, led the NFLE’s Fire to a World Bowl championship in 2000.
- Texas running back Ricky Williams (1998) had his highly-productive NFL career delayed by a year when he, while suspended by the NFL, played the 2006 season with the Argos up north. He ran for 526 yards and two touchdowns and caught 19 passes for Toronto before returning to the NFL.
- Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch (2001) has the distinction of playing in three different non-NFL leagues at two positions. He was a safety for the NFLE’s Hamburg Sea Devils in 2005, then a quarterback for the Argonauts (2006) and the United Football League’s Omaha Nighthawks (2011).
- Finally, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith (2006) was Crouch’s teammate with the Nighthawks two years ago, but saw little action after four years in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
There is a lot of time between now and the A11FL’s opening kickoff. So study that list of previous Heisman Trophy winners. You may see some future A11FL stars on it.