'96 Heisman Winner Heeds True Calling

'96 Heisman Winner Heeds True Calling

Sixteen years after winning the Heisman Trophy, he is striking his own pose. His faith is tucked tightly under one arm, never in danger of being dropped. The other arm is straight stiff, to fend off the constant challenges of life and to keep him from being sacked.

The legs, churning and moving, they never change direction, and haven’t since 2004, when Danny Wuerffel reached the fork in the football field. He was doing part-time ministry work in the bleakest part of New Orleans, the Desire Street neighborhood, while also trying to reassemble the splinters of a short NFL career that had been shattered when he was released by the Redskins.

“I was training to get back on another team,” he said. “Every morning I would drive down our street and I’d have to turn right to go train, and I would’ve had to turn left to go to Desire Street. It got harder and harder for me to turn right. My heart and passion was growing in the other direction.”

So Wuerffel declined offers to be a backup quarterback, and later turned down chances to coach, and ignored the urge to go mainstream, just to keep teenagers off drugs. And convince them to stay in school long enough to graduate. And help single mothers raise their babies. And mentor those without proper role models. And spend his entire day, and even some nights, in the kind of areas that often lead the 6 o’clock news.

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