By Heather Thomas
Dear Heisman Trust,
After watching this year’s Heisman ceremony, I have decided to break up with you. Trust me, it isn’t easy. Breaking up with someone you’ve loved for so long is downright hard as hell. I’ll always cherish the happy times… Mark Ingram, Barry Sanders, Ricky Williams just to name a few. I forgave you for Cam Newton & Johnny Manziel because I never expected you to be perfect. We all are entitled to a few mistakes.
But after Jameis Winston won, I pulled out that letter you wrote me & read it at least 50 times. You promised me you’d always “continue to protect the integrity of the Heisman trophy.” You said you’d always choose the player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. If you truly meant what you told me, then AJ McCarron would have won last night. Not because I’m a fan of The Crimson Tide but because it was the right thing to do. And I just can’t be with someone who continues to break promises & tell me lies.
Don’t get me wrong, as a lover of football, I am amazed by Jameis Winston’s athletic ability. There was a time when I desperately hoped he’d attend my beloved University of Alabama. And there were moments throughout the season that I felt a tinge of jealousy that he didn’t. Not because I wanted him to replace McCarron. That’s just crazy talk. But to learn from him & take over the reigns once AJ graduates. But that all changed a few weeks ago.
In mid-November, news broke that Winston was under investigation for sexual assault. Even though there was evidence of blood on the victim’s shorts, vaginal tears & bruising, & obvious attempts of a cover-up by the TPD, Winston was cleared of all charges a short time later. Before you tell me how it wouldn’t be right to hold these allegations against Winston, let me remind you that his own teammate is on record admitting that he & Winston commonly share women sexually. Being that 840 of you are members of the media, I think it is safe to assume you have a firm grasp of the definition of integrity. And ladies & gentlemen, this isn’t it.
You had a chance to keep me last night. As each finalist was highlighted during the ceremony, no man was more deserving than AJ McCarron. This season alone, AJ was 1 second & a hail mary, freak of nature, lucky as hell play away from leading his team to play for their 3rd consecutive national championship. Oh, and he managed to achieve this in the toughest conference in the BCS. While most young men would be comfortable resting their laurels on that alone, AJ has never been much good at settling. He managed to maintain a 3.0 GPA, be an active Godfather to a young girl battling cancer, AND befriend & find a job for a student stricken with cerebral palsy. Furthermore, the only negative story anyone has ever been able to write about him is his awful taste in tattoos. Of course, I’m sure AJ made them feel pretty shitty about that, too, because even his freaking tattoos are in honor of loved ones.
I’d remind you all that AJ also had a comparable completion percentage to Winston with half the interceptions. Or that AJ plays in a far tougher conference with much more difficult strength of schedule. I could tell you that it wasn’t “We Want FSU” signs showing up from sea to shining sea every week. Every team had Bama circled. And every week, AJ succeeded. But breaking up is hard enough & there’s no reason to embarrass you even further.
I wanted to love you, Heisman Trust. I wanted this to work. But last night, I kept thinking about that young girl & her family somewhere in Florida watching your ceremony. As sickening as it was for me to watch, it couldn’t compare to what they must’ve felt. I kept thinking of all the kids watching, too. What kind of impact does it have to see someone like Winston win over a man who oozes integrity out of every pore? Would it not have made more sense for an organization who prides itself on providing greater opportunities to our youth to have chosen a man we all hope our children grow up to emulate someday? And how can we find integrity in sports if not with The Heisman?
I’ll always remember you, Heisman Trust. Take care of yourselves. Hate to run but I have a date with the Maxwell Football Club.