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Alan Ameche
AP Photo/John Rooney

A Badger Fullback's Full Circle

1954 Heisman winner Alan Ameche

From a window in the Downtown Athletic Club where he received the 1954 Heisman Trophy, Alan Ameche could look out and see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It was a life-comes-full-circle view for the Wisconsin fullback. Less than two decades earlier, Augusto and Betty Ameche had arrived at Ellis Island on a ship from Italy, starting a new life in America. Part of that new life included watching their son, Lino Dante "Alan" Ameche, learn American football -- learn to love it, and learn to excel at it. "The Horse," as he became known, was a two-way force at Wisconsin, playing 55 minutes a game. But it was on the offensive side of the ball that he became a star, rushing for 3,345 yards and 26 touchdowns in his career as a Badger. Ameche's most famous football moment came later, as a professional, when he scored the winning touchdown for the Baltimore Colts in their epic 1958 NFL championship game victory over the New York Giants. But he remained thoroughly unimpressed by his own football glory. "He never kept anything," said Ameche's son, Michael. "All his trophies were kind of hidden away. He was incredibly humble." So humble that for years, Ameche kept his Heisman in a closet. It wasn't until the family moved into a bigger home outside of Baltimore in 1968 that his wife, Yvonne, talked him into displaying the thing. They had a bar room built into the house and had a shelf made for the Heisman. At the time Ameche won the award, he was already married to Yvonne and they had two sons, Brian and Alan Jr. They were childhood sweethearts who met at 14 and went on to have four more children. Ameche died in 1988. Eight years later, Yvonne remarried -- to another Heisman owner, Glenn Davis of Army, whom she met at the 1995 Heisman ceremony. Turns out Archie Griffin isn't the only two-time Heisman winner after all.
-- Pat Forde


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