New York City
Charles Woodson wins Heisman Trophy (12/11/1997)
It wasn’t a given, we need to remember that as we look back 15 years hence. In fact, it was kind of an upset. Peyton Manning had been the clear favorite all year, after all, why else would be come back to his Vols if not to win the Trophy (well that and to beat Florida. Yeah, about that…) Washington State’s Ryan Leaf had made a pretty strong case for himself out on the Palouse, and Marshall’s Randy Moss had made it look easy hauling in touchdown pass after touchdown pass. But Woodson’s versatility, his skill as a defensive player, his threat as an offensive weapon, and his explosiveness as a punt returner (his punt return against Ohio State had shades of Desmond Howard’s “Hello Heisman!” moment in 1991 after all) helped Woodson beat out Manning by a margin of 1815–1543 points and 433–281 first place votes.
Side note: Michigan’s hockey team was home to Western Michigan that night and the student section was attempting, while watching the game action, to watch the small television set up in the press box to determine the winner. When two unspecified Athletic Department employees raised their hands in triumph, everyone knew what it meant. An announcement was made and Woodson’s name was chanted CHAR-LES WOOD-SON through out Yost.
HSR’s encomium to Charles Woodson’s magical season, (later reprinted in the Program of the Heisman Dinner in 2007 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Woodson’s victory.)