In my next life, I’m going to be fast. I’m going to have the instinctive genius of Johnny Rodgers with a safety on my tail. I’m going to return punts.
So I can win “The Jet” Award.
Check out the trophy for the Johnny “The Jet” Rodgers National College Football Return Specialist Award. For future reference, let’s just call this “The Jet Award.”
It’s pretty impressive. As college football trophies go, it’s one of the better ones. The only problem is, if you try to imitate it, say, on the street, people will think you’re looking for a contact lens.
The trophy is a very well-done replica of Rodgers, leaning all the way forward, after the initial miss by Oklahoma running back Greg Pruitt, who was the first defender on the scene during Rodgers’ famous punt return for a touchdown in the 1971 Game of the Century.
Pruitt won’t be amused about his inclusion. He’s always said he should be given partial credit for Johnny’s jaunt to history, because he made the mistake of committing himself too quick. He ended up on the ground, in Johnny’s dust. And that’s where he is on the trophy, in Johnny’s dust.
I hope this works for Johnny. He’s bounced around a lot of projects in his life. This would be a great legacy for him. There’s a youth foundation tied to the banquet, to keep Omaha teens in school, and that would be the ultimate touchdown for No. 20 if he could make that grow.
Only Johnny could create an award for himself and you think it’s a good idea. It is. There are awards for every player on the college grid except deep snapper. The return idea works. It’s a valuable position. Other than Johnny, Tim Brown and Charles Woodson won Heismans thanks to their versatility on special teams. They scored electric touchdowns that swayed voters. These are special people.
Speaking of impact, TD Ameritrade is a name that gives this project credibility. I’m not sure why Johnny wants to award the first trophy to the 2011 winner, which hasn’t been announced — by Johnny — yet. But if he’s looking for a splash, and a worthy winner, then Tyrann Mathieu, a.k.a. the “Honey Badger,” may be making an appearance in Omaha in two weeks.
If there’s a snag, it’s the timing. The NCAA is moving up kickoffs, in the name of fewer collisions, and a touchback now goes to the 25. Will there be fewer kick returns? Great question.
We’ll still have the punt return, which is one of the great plays in Saturday’s America. It can make a man famous, win him a Heisman, get him in the College Football Hall of Fame and one day have an award named after him. With a darned cool trophy.
Photo Credit: The Associated Press