John Cappelletti Wins Heisman Trophy
John Cappelletti had the third best year in Penn State history when he gained 1,117 yards rushing in 1972.
In 1973, he had the second best year in Penn State history rushing for 1,522 yards. In his two-year running career, he gained 100 yards in the thirteen games and had a career total of 2,639 yards and twenty-nine touchdowns for an average of 120 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. John's statistics cover two years as running back inasmuch as he played defensive back in 1971. He was named to virtually every All-American team, including the Kodak All-American team. John's acceptance speech at the Heisman Dinner (with Vice President Gerald Ford next to him on the dais) was considered the most moving ever given at these ceremonies, as he honored his brother Joey, a victim of leukemia. John was signed by the Rams (first round draft choice) and spent two years grinding out short yardage. In 1976, he was promoted to starting duties and rushed for 688 yards in 177 carries. Placed on the Injured Reserve list in 1979, he was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1980 and retired after the '83 season. John is a partner in Alpha Stainless, providing fluid transfer systems & components to the Biotech and Pharmaceutical Industries. He and his wife, Betty, reside in Laguna Niguel, California, with their four sons, Nicholas, John Jr., Thomas and Joseph.
Penn State's John Cappelletti won in the East, the South and the Far West, with Ohio State's imposing John Hicks taking the Midwest and Roosevelt Leaks of Texas leading the the Southwest. Ohio State players took three of the top six spots, with sophomore sensation Archie Griffin finishing fifth and linebcker Randy Gradishar taking sixth.
John Cappelletti (born August 9, 1952) is a former professional American football running back for the NFL's Los Angeles Rams and the San Diego Chargers. Prior to his professional career, he attended the Pennsylvania State University, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1973. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Penn State football coach Joe Paterno said that Cappelletti was "the best football player I ever coached".
Cappelletti attended Monsignor Bonner High School in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. As a senior tailback at Penn State, he gained 1,522 yards on 286 carries scoring 17 touchdowns as the Nittany Lions rolled to an undefeated season. He was awarded the 1973 Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, the UPI College Football Player of the Year, the Walter Camp Award as well as receiving All-America honors. In his two-year running career, he gained 100 yards in thirteen games and had a career total of 2,639 yards and twenty-nine touchdowns for an average of 120 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. Cappelletti's Heisman acceptance speech, where he dedicated his award to his dying brother Joey, is one of the most memorable in the history of college sports.
The relationship between Cappelletti and his younger brother Joey, who died of childhood leukemia on April 8, 1976 , was made into a television movie in 1977 called Something for Joey. Cappelletti was played by Marc Singer. The movie was based on the book of the same name written by Richard E. Peck and chronicled the bond between the two brothers as Cappelletti supported his young brother through his battle against cancer.
Cappelletti went on to play professional football from 1974 through 1983 for the Los Angeles Rams and the San Diego Chargers. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Also a member of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
A defensive back as a freshman and sophomore at Penn State, Cappelletti was moved to running back in his junior year, 1972, and gained 1,117 yards. As a senior, he rushed for 1,522 yards, was a consensus All-American, and won the Heisman Trophy as the nation's outstanding college player. The 6-foot-1, 219-pound Cappelletti joined the Los Angeles Rams in 1974 and was with them for five seasons. He missed 1979 with a knee injury and then spent three seasons with the San Diego Chargers before retiring. In his 8 professional seasons, Cappelletti rushed 824 times for 2,751 yards, a 3.3 average, and 24 touchdowns. He caught 135 passes for 1,233 yards and 4 touchdowns.