Jim Plunkett Wins Heisman Trophy
In three seasons with the Indians his total offensive records included most pass attempts, 962; most pass completions, 530; most net yards passing, 7,544; most touchdown passes, 52; most plays total offense, and most yards total offense are NCAA records. When he connected for 22 of 36 passes for 268 yards against Washington, he broke the career passing mark of 7,076 yards held by Steve Ramsey of North Carolina. After Rose Bowl heroics (leading Stanford over Ohio State in 1971, 27-17), Plunkett went on to the New England Patriots - as a number one draft choice - where he compiled a brilliant freshman record as starting quarterback passing for 2,158 yards and winning Rookie of the Year honors. He played in every Patriots game until injuries sidelined him in 1975. He was traded in 1976 to the '49ers and in 1980 went with the Oakland Raiders and quarterbacked the Raiders to two Super Bowl wins in 1980 and 1983 and was named the MVP of the 1980 match-up. He retired after a stellar 17-season Pro Football career and now has a Coors Distributorship in Stockton, California. Plunkett was named the First Recipient of the Leukemia Society of America's Ernie Davis Award. Jim is an avid tennis player.
Stanford's Jim Plunkett emerged the big winner in a big year for quarterbacks. Plunkett had 510 first place votes and his 2,229 overall points were the sixth highest in Heisman history. Two other quarterbacks, Notre Dame's Joe Theismann and Mississippi's Archie Manning, were second and third and two others, Rex Kern of Ohio State and Pat Sullivan of Auburn, were fifth and sixth. Six of the top 10 finishers were quarterbacks.
James W. "Jim" Plunkett (born December 5, 1947 in San Jose, California) is a former American football quarterback who played college football for Stanford University, where he won the Heisman Trophy, and professionally for three National Football League teams: the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. He led the Raiders to two Super Bowl victories (XV and XVIII). He is the only retired quarterback to start, and win, two Super Bowls who is not also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Upon entering Stanford University, Plunkett endured a rough freshman campaign after being weakened by a thyroid operation. His performance originally caused head coach John Ralston to switch him to defensive end, but Plunkett was adamant in remaining at quarterback, throwing 500 to 1,000 passes every day to polish his arm. He earned the opportunity to start in 1968, and in his first game, completed ten of thirteen passes for 277 yards and four touchdowns, never relinquishing his hold on the starting spot. Plunkett's arrival ushered in an era of wide-open passing, pro-style offenses in the Pac-8, a trend that has continued to the present.
His successful junior campaign saw him set league records for touchdown passes (20), passing yards (2,673) and total offense (2,786). This display of offensive firepower led Washington State coach Jim Sweeney to call Plunkett "The best college football player I've ever seen." After his junior year, Plunkett became eligible to enter the NFL draft, which would have given him a chance to earn a large roster bonus for himself and his mother. He passed up the chance at a paycheck, however, so that he could set a good example to the chicano youth he had tutored. In his senior year he led Stanford to their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1952, a game that ended with a 27-17 Stanford victory over the favored Ohio State Buckeyes.
With eighteen passing and three rushing touchdowns added to his 2,715 passing yards on the year (which broke his own conference record), Plunkett was awarded the 1970 Heisman Trophy given annually to the top college football player in the country. Though he had set so many records on the season, 1970 had been the "Year of the Quarterback," and Plunkett beat out Notre Dame's Joe Theismann and Archie Manning of Ole Miss to win the award. He was the first Latino to win the Heisman Trophy. Aside from the Heisman, he captured the Maxwell Award for the nation's best quarterback and was named player of the year by United Press International, The Sporting News, and SPORT magazine. In addition, the American College Football Coaches Association designated him as their Offensive Player of the Year. He was became the second mulitiple recipient of the W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy, awarded each year to the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast. Plunkett received the Voit Trophy in both 1969 and 1970.
Jim Plunkett's background gave him every excuse for failure.
He refused to take any.
Despite his Irish surname, Plunkett is 90% Mexican-American. Both his
parents, William and Carmella, were blind, having met at a school for the
sightless in New Mexico. They moved to San Jose, where William Plunkett
worked at a Post Office news stand to provide his wife and three children
with a meager but honorable living, although for awhile they subsisted on
welfare. But they were not bitter. "My folks were poor and uneducated,"
Plunkett later observed, "but they accepted life for what it gave them."
As a high school senior Plunkett lead his team to an undefeated season and
was named to the North squad in California's Shrine Game. North's roster,
however, was so stocked so with quarterbacks, Plunkett was moved to
defensive end. Even at a new position he proved impressive.
That the fall he entered Stanford. But a serious potential problem had
developed. During the summer Plunkett had felt a bump on the left side of
his neck. It turned out to be a tumor in his thyroid. An operation that
September removed it. The growth proved benign, but the incident
weakened him and when he returned to the gridiron his performance
suffered. Stanford head coach John Ralston had three other quarterbacks
plus a keen memory of Plunkett's fine performance at defensive end in the
Shrine Game, wanted Plunkett to consider a switch to that position.
Plunkett promised to think about it. But after he did, he tersely informed
Ralston: "I am a quarterback."
Yes, he was. And to regain his now eroded skills, he threw 500 to 1,000
passes per day. Nonetheless, in Plunkett's sophomore year Ralston
redshirted him. The next year, however, he was ready. In his first varsity
game Plunkett completed ten of thirteen pass attempts for a total of 277
yards and four TDs. In the next two years he threw thirty-four touchdowns
and gained 4,829 yards in the air.
After Plunkett's class graduated without him in 1970 (he had fallen behind a
year) he became eligible to turn pro. Despite his success on the gridiron, his
financial situation had not appreciably improved from his poverty stricken
childhood. His father had passed away, and even with his scholarship
Plunkett needed to take a series of construction jobs to make ends meet. A
pro bonus would come in very handy, and might even provide Jim with the
means to finally buy his mother a home of her own.