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Heisman 1989 Andre Ware
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Blazing A Trail

1989 Heisman winner Andre Ware

When former Houston star Andre Ware was passing his way to winning the 1989 Heisman Trophy, the thought of becoming the first African-American quarterback to win college football's most coveted individual award never really crossed his mind. Then again, Ware never did have much time to slow down and reflect while operating Cougars coach Jack Pardee's high-flying, run-and-shoot offense. "To be honest, going through the process that year, it never really occurred to me," said Ware, who now works as a college football analyst for ESPN. "It might have been after I won it that I came to the realization that it was that way." Syracuse running back Ernie Davis became the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy in 1961. But no black quarterback had ever won the award before Ware edged Indiana running back Anthony Thompson in a close vote in 1989. Ware's boyhood idol, former Grambling State quarterback Doug Williams, finished a distant fourth in voting to 1977 winner Earl Campbell of Texas. Four years after Ware won the Heisman Trophy, Florida State's Charlie Ward became the second African-American quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. Ohio State's Troy Smith became the third such winner in 2006. "Certainly, there is a lot of pride," Ware said. "I'd be lying if I said there wasn't." At the time, Ware seemed like an unlikely winner. He was the first Heisman Trophy winner to play on a team on NCAA probation. As a result, the Cougars weren't allowed to play their games on TV, so most voters could only read about Ware's exploits. He broke 26 NCAA passing and total offense records before leaving Houston. "I'll never forget something Earl Campbell told me," Ware said. "He told me, 'You're no longer Andre Ware. You're always going to be Andre Ware, Heisman Trophy winner.'"
-- Mark Schlabach


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