Super Bowl XLIX is in the books with the Patriots defeating the Seahawks 28-24. For the 31st straight year, Heisman winning quarterbacks were nowhere to be seen on the field. Lack of NFL playoff success seems to have become the norm for Heisman winning quarterbacks.
No Heisman-winning quarterback has won a Super Bowl since 1984 (I wasn’t even born yet!), when Jim Plunkett (1970 Heisman winner at Stanford) took the Raiders all the way in Super Bowl XVII (with a lot of help from fellow Heisman winner, Marcus Allen). Only two Heisman winning quarterbacks have won Super Bowls (Staubach won Super Bowls VI and XII with the Cowboys; Plunkett won Super Bowls XV and XVIII with the Raiders). As it stands, they are the only two Heisman winning quarterbacks with winning NFL playoff records (Staubach 11-6; Plunkett 8-2). All time, Heisman winning quarterbacks are 23-20 (.575) in NFL playoffs.
Of the last 10 quarterbacks to win the Heisman trophy and leave college (Johnny Manziel, RG3, Cam Newton, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Troy Smith, Matt Leinart, Jason White, Carson Palmer, Eric Crouch), only five (Manziel, RG3, Newton, Bradford and Palmer) are still in the NFL. Neither Eric Crouch nor Jason White ever took an NFL snap at QB. Sam Bradford and RG3, while both finding early success and winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2009 and 2012, respectively, have both been hampered by nagging injuries and find their futures very much uncertain. These 10 quarterbacks have combined for a grand total of two playoff wins (2-6 overall): Tebow worked some magic in 2010 for the Broncos over the Steelers and Cam led the Panthers over the Cardinals in this season’s playoffs. Since 1990, Heisman winning quarterbacks have a combined 4-11 record in the NFL playoffs (1986 Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde had a playoff win in 1994 with the Browns and in 1998 with the Jets and is the last Heisman winning quarterback with multiple career playoff wins).
To look at things from a slightly different perspective, there are 37 quarterbacks (9 active) with more individual career NFL playoff wins than the last 19 Heisman trophy winning quarterbacks combined (that number doesn’t include Winston or Mariota). Furthermore, there are now 3 quarterbacks (Brady, Montana and Bradshaw) who individually have won as many Super Bowls (4) as all 33 quarterbacks to ever win the Heisman combined.
Perhaps the Heisman Curse is real after all.