South Charlotte

Heisman award party still an exciting event

Every year, I attend the Heisman Trophy award ceremony in New York and write about how exciting it is.

This, my 13th year, was no less thrilling than the first.

The prestigious Heisman Trophy is awarded to the most outstanding collegiate football player of the year, as determined by sports journalists (870), previous Heisman winners (56) and fan voting (compiled to one elector).

This year's winner, if you haven't already heard, is Robert Griffin III, quarterback for Baylor University.

Finalists included Wisconsin quarterback Montee Ball; Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck; Louisiana State cornerback Tyrann Mathieu; and Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

Last year's winner, Cam Newton, now quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, was a sure thing, but this year there was no clear favorite.

Everyone attending the nationally televised event at Best Buy Theater in New York City appeared to have a different favorite. The buzz favored Griffin, but I thought Luck, a returning nominee, had a good shot.

The finalists, with their coaches and families, were seated in the front rows, mixed with past Heisman winners.

Chris Fowler again did a terrific job as host. Several monitors were placed strategically in the room so attendees could view each player's highlights as they were shown for the television viewing audience.

Each year, the Heisman Trust recognizes the winners of 25 and 50 years ago. Syracuse running back Ernie Davis, the 1961 winner, was given the Gold Award posthumously. Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde, the 1986 winner, was given the Silver Award.

My husband, Tony Scioscia, chairman of the Heisman Awards in 1985 and 1986, had presented Testaverde the trophy in 1986.

The crowd fell silent when it was time for this year's winner to be announced. The first Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor, Griffin said he hopes to be the first of many.

Luck came in second for the second year in a row.

The Heisman dinner dance, held the following night at Battery Park, is a private event, where Griffin and his family get to join past winners and a few chosen guests for an evening of food and music.

I met Griffin's mother, Jacqueline, at the dance. A retired Army sergeant, she's personable, beautiful and understandably proud of her son.

I enjoy the dinner dance as much as the announcement itself. It's so much fun to rub elbows with football greats.

I'm beginning to think that being a terrific dancer is a prerequisite for winning the Heisman, as Griffin and all the others are amazing on the dance floor. Griffin's spot-on Michael Jackson moves brought the house down.

The live band kept up the beat, and the professional musicians even allowed Mike Rozier (Nebraska '83) to sing and Doug Flutie (Boston College '84) hit the drums for a set.