Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Humility Of The Heisman

As football season is upon us, I made the bonus questions today on my quizzes/memory verses about the sport. More specifically, they were about the first winner of the Heisman Trophy, Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago. There were three variations with nine answers apiece on the first two and just guessing on the third one with a hint. Who owned his draft rights in the first ever NFL draft? (The Bears) In what Iowa town did he grow up? (Dubuque) What is the mascot/team name for the University of Chicago squads? (Maroons) I'm pretty sure not one of the kids had ever heard of Berwanger who died in 2002. Looking up information on him led me to some interesting finds about the man. He only received  a $300 scholarship at the U of C per year and worked his way through college. He was also the student body president and captain of the track team. He never played in the NFL but worked as a coach/referee/sports columnist/businessman. Just think how much he could have banked today in endorsements: first Heisman Trophy winner AND the first pick in the first ever NFL draft. And yet, Jay Berwanger walked away from playing the sport which made him famous.

I found out something else that I found fascinating about this legendary athlete. Berwanger, an extremely modest man, used the Heisman Trophy, perhaps the most revered American athletic award, as a doorstop in his library. Can you believe it? Most of us who ever played a sport would find a place of great honor for the tremendous symbol of our accomplishment. But this first trophy given by the New York Downtown Athletic Club gathered dust and probably a few scratches in its humble role to hold a door open. Berwanger later donated the trophy back to his alma mater where it remains to this day. They may have had to use several bottles of  Lemon Pledge to get it back in displayable condition!

One of my favorites, Amy Miller, posted tonight on FACEBOOK that in her chapel today at Oklahoma Christian University, they sang old hymns. I wish I'd been there; I miss the music I grew up with. Two of those old hymns, The Old Rugged Cross and Jesus Paid It All, mention trophies. They mention trophies in the context of laying them down or giving them up at the end of our lives. I wish I could say I would have remained unchanged if I had garnered the Heisman Trophy but I know better. In a perfect world, I would have owned the Heisman instead of the Heisman owning me. We all have our trophies and awards and prizes from our walk through life but in the end, we have to let them let these trinkets be secondary to the cross. They will stay behind when we move on to the afterlife. And in honor of Jay Berwanger, I'm awaiting calls from my own alma maters for the gracious donation of my hardware.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust."
Jesse Owens

God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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