Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana State Museum will unveil a new exhibition honoring the state’s four Heisman Trophy winners at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum on Wednesday, December 7, 2022.
The Heisman Trophy Trust presents the trophy each December to the outstanding college football player who embodies the ideals of integrity, perseverance, and determination. Since its inception in 1935, four players with ties to Louisiana have taken home the trophy.
John David Crow, a 1954 graduate of Springhill High School in Webster Parish, won the trophy in 1957 while playing for Texas A&M. Two years later, Billy Cannon won the award after his historic run at Tiger Stadium against Ole Miss on Halloween night 1959 when he returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown. Former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the only other LSU Tiger to win the award, broke numerous voting records on his way to earning the 2019 Heisman Trophy. Burrow received 841 first place votes for a record total of 2,608 points to defeat runner-up Jalen Hurts by 1,862 points, another record for margin of victory. Finally, Amite High Magnet School graduate DeVonta Smith won the coveted award in 2020 while playing for the University of Alabama.
“There is definitely no lack of football talent growing up or playing in Louisiana. These four players stand out among the best,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “This exhibit is a great opportunity for football fans to hear the stories of these players, and feel more a part of their outstanding Heisman careers in college. They truly are great representations of the Louisiana sports world.”
“The debut of the new Heisman Trophy exhibit is a wonderful leap forward for our museum as we approach its 10th anniversary next summer. The back-to-back Heisman Trophy wins by Joe Burrow (2019) and DeVonta Smith (2020) spurred this endeavor, which was impeded by the pandemic but fueled by the excitement of the families and friends of each of the recipients, along with the diligence of Jennae Biddiscombe and Ronnie Rantz, the generous support of our benefactors and the expertise of Louisiana State Museum personnel,” said Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Chairman Doug Ireland. “Speaking for the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, the parent organization of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, we are ecstatic about this special, permanent addition to the museum.”
The exhibition tells the stories of these individuals through a diverse array of artifacts. Highlights include the rotary phone Billy Cannon used to call LSU football coach Paul Dietzel to say he would be attending the school and Joe Burrow’s LSU football helmet. Equipment from DeVonta Smith’s years at Amite High and the University of Alabama and a scrapbook with photos of John David Crow will also be on display.
The exhibit opens with a private reception for Friends of Louisiana Sports and History (FLASH) members on Wednesday, December 7, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. A free public reception will immediately follow at 6:30 p.m. beginning with a ribbon cutting ceremony, a brief program, and an opportunity to meet the winners’ families and representatives. The reception ends at 8 p.m.
The Central Louisiana Community Foundation, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities provided funding for this exhibition. Funding for 2021 Rebirth grants was administered by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) and provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and the NEH Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) initiative. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame celebrates Louisiana athletes, coaches and sports stars in a dazzling museum complex, while the Northwest Louisiana History Museum presents 3,000 years of history, highlighting the unique cultural traditions that survive and thrive in the region today.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum is located at 800 Front Street in Natchitoches. Admission to the museum is $6 for adults, $5 for students, seniors and active military, and free for children 6 and under. Visit LouisianaStateMuseum.org for more information.