Right after Baker Mayfield was announced as the recipient of this year’s Heisman Trophy, the Oklahoma quarterback hopped onto the stage as so many before him have and shook the hands of previous winners of the prestigious honor, one by one.
A line of Heisman Trophy winners that sadly did not include one former Buffalo, the late Rashaan Salaam, Colorado’s only winner of college football’s top individual honor.
This time of year floods bittersweet memories of Salaam into the hearts and minds of many sports fans in Colorado. A kind-hearted, loving man gone too soon, Salaam ran over defenders and bolted across football fields like Ralphie for the Buffs in the early ’90s. He is arguably the greatest player to come from the state’s flagship university.
Never has college athletics in Colorado witnessed a player of Salaam’s majesty, crowned with his final college football masterpiece, the 1994 season, a gem of a season that concluded with 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns as he helped lead the Buffaloes to an 11-1 record and a Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.
This time of year is also the remembrance and bittersweet realization that such an iconic figure in Colorado sports is no longer with us, as Salaam committed suicide in a Boulder park on Dec. 5, 2016, a one-year mark passed just last week.
Dearly missed and never forgotten, it’s time to bring home the piece of memorabilia that embodied Salaam more than anything.
If you seek out the mission statement from the Heisman Trust, it tells you the following:
“The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. The winners of the trophy epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust’s mission is to ensure the continuation and integrity of this award.”
“The pursuit of excellence with integrity” and “epitomized great ability, combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.” There are very few words that better describe Salaam and how coaches, players and friends remember him.
In 2013, Salaam sold his Heisman Trophy to a sports memorabilia dealer, who resold it to its present owner that same year. Back in 1994, there was not the Heisman Trophy “no-sell waiver” that exists today. Salaam’s Heisman Trophy is now going up for online auction, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit CTE research. Bidding for Salaam’s Heisman Trophy will open on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 and conclude on Saturday, Jan. 20 at SCPAuctions.com. The trophy is expected to be sold for somewhere in the realm of $300,000.
Here’s hoping someone, anyone — an organization, coach, former teammate, boosters or the University of Colorado itself — wins this auction and brings it back to Salaam’s family. Presenting it to his mother to proudly display in her home where it deserves to stay would signify not only the work that Salaam put in as an athlete, but the loving kindness that Salaam demonstrated.
It would be an expensive endeavor, but the memories of Salaam are priceless to the people he impacted. The lives he touched will never forget him. As his former coach, Bill McCartney, said, Salaam had “a happy heart” and that he always “had a sparkle in his eye.” That was Salaam.
Now is the time. Someone can step up and do something for Salaam and his family, reuniting the symbol of his ultimate achievement with his family where it belongs.