The Heisman; Life after the Heisman: one winner's story
Concord, Mass. — Darkness has fallen over the outskirts of historic Concord and the office workers at Kazmaier Associates are heading home. The boss, however, still has several more items to tend to, including a lengthy interview.
Dick Kazmaier, the former Princeton University star, may have quit running with a football after he won the Heisman Trophy in 1951, but in just about every other way he seems to be going harder than ever.
A successful entrepreneur, he oversees his own business from its semi-rural headquarters west of Boston. The company, a consulting firm involved primarily with sports marketing and management, is on the move. Within the next few days, the concern will sign a deal to handle the New England franchises for D'Lites, a fast-food chain specializing in ''lite'' fare.
In keeping with the Kazmaier style, though, there is nothing pretentious about this budding enterprise. Its new, handsomely styled building carries nothing more than a street address sign. ''Dick is a very low-key guy,'' an assistant explains.
Kazmaier is, however, justifiably proud of having won the Heisman Trophy. But he places the honor in context. ''My selection was representative of Princeton's excellence and accomplishments at the time. That's not what it is in the eyes of the public, but that's how I view it.''
The Ivy League school received as much exposure then as any team in the country, except for Notre Dame. The Tigers were an undefeated, sixth-ranked team in '51, when Kazmaier was the nation's total offense leader and most accurate passer.
But his fondest recollections today are not of specific plays or games. ''I could tell you about some plays, but the most important things were the experience, the opportunity, the people,'' he says.
His college experience was so satisfying, in fact, that he had no desire to enter pro football - even at the urging of George Halas, revered coach of the Chicago Bears. Instead he enrolled at Harvard Business School, married after his first year, then joined the Navy upon completing his MBA degree. Six years passed before he resurfaced as an everyday citizen.
''That's a long time to be desensitized and cooled off (from the Heisman attention),'' he says of his ability to escape post-award clamor.
He preferred it that way, too. He basically divorced himself from the honor, giving the trophy to his father, who gave it to Princeton.
''Until 1971 I didn't have any of my memorabilia with me; I didn't want it,'' he explains. ''That was a phase of my life that had concluded. I wasn't prepared to deal with the next phase, carrying the Heisman Trophy under my arm or wearing an All-America sweater on my back.''
In becoming a hardworking businessman and the father of six daughters, he basically put football behind him. So much so, he says, that a certain inertia set in, preventing him from accepting his football past after two decades of stiff-arming it aside.His wife, however, encouraged a change.
''It was her desire, and I thought it was good one with a whole bunch of teen-age girls, to have some things around the house that might show the history of their parents.''
Accordingly, he now has his own Heisman Trophy, but not the one given to Princeton. When Kazmaier attended O. J. Simpson's Heisman press conference in 1968, he learned that beginning with Simpson, winners would receive two trophies , one for their schools and another for their personal use. So he requested a second copy of the famous statuette.
Since then he has become more openly involved in football and today is president of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame. He attends a handful of games each year, and on New Year's Day - in the best tradition of American football fans - he watches bowl games on two TVs simultaneously. HEISMAN TROPHY WINNERS Year Winner College Position 1935 Jay Berwanger Chicago HB 1936 Larry Kelley Yale End 1937 Clint Frank Yale QB 1938 Davey O'Brien Texas Christian QB 1939 Nile Kinnick Iowa QB-HB 1940 Tom Harmon Michigan HB 1941 Bruce Smith Minnesota HB 1942 Frank Sinkwich Georgia TB 1943 Angelo Bertelli Notre Dame QB 1944 Les Horvath Ohio State QB-HB 1945 Felix (Doc) Blanchard Army FB 1946 Glenn Davis Army HB 1947 Johnny Lujack Notre Dame QB 1948 Doak Walker Southern Methodist HB 1949 Leon Hart Notre Dame End 1950 Vic Janowicz Ohio State HB 1951 Dick Kazmaier Princeton TB 1952 Billy Vessels Oklahoma HB 1953 John Lattner Notre Dame HB 1954 Alan Ameche Wisconsin FB 1955 Howard Cassady Ohio State HB 1956 Paul Hornung Notre Dame QB-HB 1957 John David Crow Texas A&M HB 1958 Pete Dawkins Army HB 1959 Billy Cannon Louisiana State HB 1960 Joe Bellino Navy HB 1961 Ernie Davis Syracuse FB 1962 Terry Baker Oregon State QB 1963 Roger Staubach Navy QB 1964 John Huarte Notre Dame QB 1965 Mike Garrett Southern California TB 1966 Steve Spurrier Florida QB 1967 Gary Beban UCLA QB 1968 O. J. Simpson Southern California TB 1969 Steve Owens Oklahoma FB 1970 Jim Plunkett Stanford QB 1971 Pat Sullivan Auburn QB 1972 Johnny Rodgers Nebraska HB 1973 John Cappelletti Penn State FB 1974 Archie Griffin Ohio State HB 1975 Archie Griffin Ohio State HB 1976 Tony Dorsett Pittsburgh HB 1977 Earl Campbell Texas FB 1978 Billy Sims Oklahoma HB 1979 Charlie White Southern California TB 1980 George Rogers South Carolina TB 1981 Marcus Allen Southern California TB 1982 Herschel Walker Georgia RB 1983 Mike Rozier Nebraska RB