Fans visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame can now view the 1970 Heisman Trophy, the Super Bowl XV MVP Trophy and a genuine Super Bowl XVIII Ring – all items are the property of legendary quarterback Jim Plunkett
. Of special note, this is the first time a Heisman Trophy has ever been exhibited in the Hall of Fame.
“I’m very proud of the fact that (they are) being displayed in the Hall of Fame,” Plunkett commented to the Hall of Fame recently. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to display some of the things I have accomplished in my college and professional career.”
Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy as the top player in college football in 1970. During his All-American senior year, he led Stanford University to a 9-3 record and an upset victory over the number two ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the 1971 Rose Bowl. Plunkett is Stanford’s first and only Heisman Trophy winner.
“The Heisman Trophy, for me, was a great culmination of my college career,” said Plunkett about the celebrated prize. “Obviously I did not do it alone. I had some great teammates and some great coaches to help me receive that award.”
The 1971 NFL Draft came next for Plunkett where he was selected with the first overall pick by the Boston
(soon to be New England) Patriots
. He did not skip a beat on the pro level where he set a new NFL rookie record with 19 touchdown passes. That year-long performance earned Plunkett Rookie of the Year honors.
The Patriots featured Plunkett under center for five seasons but a porous offensive line and injuries began to take their toll on the signal-caller. He joined the San Francisco 49ers
for a two-year stint in 1976 but found little success. He was released after the ’77 season, his professional career, it seemed, was in jeopardy.
That’s when Plunkett was approached by Al Davis
, the Hall of Fame owner of the Oakland Raiders
. Davis was well known for successfully giving players a second chance at glory. The Raiders signed Plunkett in 1978 where he healed for one year before he served as a backup to Ken Stabler
Then in 1980, another injury, this time to quarterback Dan Pastorini
, thrust Plunkett back into the starting lineup. The veteran lifted the struggling Raiders and guided them to a 9-2 record in the final 11 games. After a 2-3 start to the season, Plunkett had led the Raiders to an 11-5 record and a Wild Card berth in the playoffs.
The Raiders then reeled off three straight playoff victories to reach Super Bowl XV against the Philadelphia Eagles
. The strong-armed Plunkett was the model of efficiency in the Raiders' 27-10 win over the Eagles. Plunkett finished 13 for 21 passing for 261 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions and earned MVP honors. Plunkett’s incredible performance during the ’80 season also earned him the Comeback Player of the Year award.
“People thought I was washed up and couldn’t do the job anymore and I got an opportunity to show them that I could, including myself,” recounted Plunkett about his second chance with the Raiders. “For me it was vindication ... To finally get my opportunity to not only get to a Super Bowl but win one was truly a great experience.”
|Plunkett poses with his wife on the field after Super Bowl XV.
Plunkett led the Raiders to a victory in Super Bowl XVIII following the 1983 season before retiring in 1988. He is the only quarterback to start and win two Super Bowls that does not have a permanent place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, Plunkett’s name and story will forever be etched in the rich history of the National Football League. His career stats include 15 seasons, 157 games, 1,943 completions on 3,701 attempts and 164 TDs.
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