The Royal Heffernans

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Manti For Heisman

"The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work."

There has been a lot of talk about Manti Te'o as a Heisman candidate. At first, I dismissed it as mere hope. When you have a highly ranked team, you always look to its best players as possible Heisman candidates. As recently as this week, I thought that a perfect storm would have to occur for Manti to have a shot: ND undefeated, QBs ahead of him falter, and Manti makes a defining play to win a game.

Today I have officially changed my mind. I am officially campaigning for Manti to win the Heisman. I don't think it's a long-shot anymore. I think it may be a real possibility. I'm going to explain why. Reread that mission statement above. Nowhere does it say the best player, the most stats, the most wins or the best team. It talks about excellence, integrity, diligence, perseverance and hard work.

Manti wears the C on his jersey (the 1st time in decades) and is the team captain in every way. He is the physical, spiritual and emotional leader. We all know he is a once in a generation defensive player. He is a 1st team All-American and a top 10 draft pick. He controls the game from the defensive side of the ball. Not only that, but he continues to improve every season and every week. The legend wrote another chapter last weekend against Stanford. 1st and goal from the 4 in OT. The Irish needed to stop Stanford. Manti lined up on the goal line with his defense, looked up and down the line, and told his teammates, "I love you". Game over.

We also know about his tragic double loss on September 12. When he broke down and couldn't lead, his teammates picked up the slack and were there for him. He responded with dominant performances against Michigan State and Michigan. If this isn't the very essence of integrity and perseverance, I don't know what is.

But it's just a dream, right? I don't think so anymore. I have recently read articles about how Manti is viewed in Hawaii. I am not mincing words when I say this, he is a god. He is the most revered athlete in Hawaii. I think that is spreading as well. He received thousands of letters after his tragedy, showing his national presence. I also would like you to watch the postgame after Stanford. Although they lost a heartbreaker in OT, their players were swearing, and their coach was whining about phantom whistles and such, almost every Stanford player and coach lined up to shake hands, speak with or hug Manti. It's not just Stanford either. He is revered by other players and coaches.

Yeah, but that's Hawaii and a bunch of football guys. It's not enough for the Heisman, right? Well listen to this, and see if you think Manti has enough momentum to carry him to the award:

Jim Rome has literally done tens of thousands of interviews, probably more. After that interview, he wrote on his website, "That may have been the most inspirational conversation I've ever had with an athlete." His radio show blew up with callers admiring Manti, ND fans and ND haters alike. Twitter exploded. I think the more people that listen to this, they will realize that Manti exhibits what the Heisman was created to symbolize.

The more I learn about Manti, the more I see him play, he is quickly becoming my favorite football player ever. He is the perfect representation of not only Notre Dame football, but college football - as it was meant to be. In this day and age when so many things seem wrong with college football, I call on the Heisman Trust and Heisman voters to vote for Manti Te'o. Use the Heisman to promote the good in college football. College football isn't just about stats and wins. It's about guys like Manti, it's about legends.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

I love Manti, and I think that at this point, he should easily win the Biletinikoff (sp) trophy for best linebacker. I even think he should be invited to the Heisman ceremony. But the Heisman is no longer about ideals and virtue and success - it's about stats. And while Te'o has great stats, they are not offensive stats; he's not scoring TDs. In the end, somebody from Alabama or Oregon who puts up big offensive stats will win.