Photo By Malcolm Emmons-US Presswire Copyright (c) Malcolm Emmons
The Year Of The Cardinal Quarterback
1970 Heisman winner Jim Plunkett
Forgive Jim Plunkett if his memories of winning the Heisman are faint. After all, it has been nearly 40 years since the strapping quarterback led Stanford to the Rose Bowl and a defeat of Ohio State.
Plunkett's fondness for the Heisman stems from his post-collegiate career, to a time when the Downtown Athletic Club stood as a nexus for movers and shakers in New York's financial district.
Plunkett, who recently sold his Coors distributorship and still lives in the Bay Area, said whenever he and his family came to New York, they felt as if the DAC opened every door in the city to them.
Yankees games? Plunkett sat in owner George Steinbrenner's box.
The best restaurants? Let New Yorkers fight to get reservations. Plunkett always had a table.
Broadway shows? Two on the aisle.
"If you needed to get concert tickets, theater tickets, whatever you wanted," Plunkett said. "No place was impossible to get into.
My wife and I loved 'Phantom of the Opera.' We saw it so many times in the years it was sold out."
Plunkett said his treatment in New York stands as a tribute to Rudy Riska, the man who ran the Heisman for the DAC for so many years, and to the DAC itself, may it rest in peace. The club had trouble sustaining itself financially in the 1990s. The tragedy of 9/11 -- the DAC stood just blocks from the World Trade Center -- closed its doors forever.
The city has changed. The DAC is gone. The Heisman endures. Four decades later, Plunkett still comes back to New York.
-- Ivan Maisel