Heisman Gala (2013)

After the Heisman Trophy presentation on ESPN there is a gala for the winner Times Square. And it is one of the best off the field college football experiences ever.

The 2013 Heisman gala at the New York Marriott Marquis hosted 26 Heisman winners and David Robinson. During the cocktail hour before, everyone got a chance to meet the Heisman winners including Roger Staubach, Steve Spurrier, Barry Sanders, Tim Brown, Tony Dorsett, Billy Sims, Charlie Ward, Chris Weinke and Robinson. I’ve never seen so many grown men in suits carrying around footballs.

My father, Rich “Pops” Hyland got the tickets for free from the New York Traffic Club, the face value was $600. For $10,000, a person gets two tickets in the bleachers to the Heisman presentation, a table at the gala and a picture with the Heisman winner. Jameis Winston must have taken more than 200 pictures.

But if you’re a big fan of the Heisman winner, it’s worth the price for the Heisman gala not the Heisman presentation. You could also recoup your losses by selling the autographs that you got at the gala.

I got Johnny Lattner, Tim Brown and David Robinson’s autographs without even trying. They just walked past me and I asked for their autograph, we had a casual conversation with Brown for 15 minutes. The access to these great athletes is unbelievable. If someone really tried, they could get every Heisman winners’ autograph and sell the autographs for easily $600.

The cocktail hour was by far the best part of the night. The dinner was pretty cool but nothing special. It started with a prayer from Danny Wuerffel and the National Anthem performed by the Syracuse band. I’ve never been at a massive dinner that starts like that.

There were six speakers: Jason White for his Heisman 10th anniversary, Barry Sanders for his Heisman 25th anniversary, Roger Staubach for his Heisman 50th anniversary
David Robinson for winning the Heisman humanitarian award, Jimbo Fisher for coaching Winston and Winston for winning the 2013 Heisman.

White’s speech was ok, he talked how other Heisman winners became family to him and how close this elite fraternity of athletes is.

Sanders and Robinson were completely humbling and inspiring, both seem like the classiest people ever. Sanders was talking about he needed to thank everyone on his team because it isn’t only him. He spoke of his respect for every player. “To step on a college football field, makes you privileged,” said Sanders. Robinson preached that his athletic abilities has made it possible for him to help countless people and that every celebrity should embrace and share their wealth and stardom.

Staubach had the most entertaining speech. He discussed the Army/Navy game after Kennedy died. The Navy Heisman winner was telling stories of his heyday at the Playboy Club in Chicago.

Fisher was praising the sh*t out of Winston and had the longest speech. Winston’s speech sounded like Ricky Williams with a southern accent, he sounded crazy but is oddly wise.

The gala finished, they gave out goody bags with a Heisman football and shirt. The trip was unforgettable and worth a visit by any college football fans.