Archie Griffin’s name will forever be enshrined in the college football record books.
Not only did Griffin win a Heisman Trophy at Ohio State, but he is the only player through the 2019 season to win two. No one else, not even the likes of Tim Tebow, managed to follow through with multiple Heismans.
That should have signaled a bright future for Griffin, who spent several years with the Cincinnati Bengals. Instead, Griffin went broke by age 27, but not for reasons you’d expect.
Archie Griffin is an Ohio State legend
Think of all the great college football players that won the Heisman Trophy in recent memory. Quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow; running backs like Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram.
None of them did what Archie Griffin did in 1974 and 1975: win two Heisman Trophies.
After running for 867 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman in 1972, Griffin broke out for 1,577 yards and seven touchdowns in 1973. That earned him a fifth-place finish in the Heisman voting.
Griffin won the award in 1974, when he totaled 1,695 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Although Griffin’s numbers dipped to 1,450 yards and four scores a year later, he still won the Heisman over California running back Chuck Muncie in dominating fashion.
Muncie had 10 more yards and nine more touchdowns than Griffin. But Griffin scored 1800 points in the voting to Muncie’s 730.
Griffin went bankrupt before he turned 30
The Cincinnati Bengals used the 24th overall pick in the 1976 NFL draft on Griffin.
Although Griffin stayed close to home, he never became the elite NFL running back many thought he would. Griffin ran for 625 yards and three touchdowns on 4.5 yards per carry as a rookie, but didn’t score another rushing touchdown until 1981.
Griffin stayed healthy and played at least 16 games in four of those six seasons, but he just couldn’t find the end zone. Not even in 1979, when Griffin ran for a career-high 688 yards on 4.9 yards per carry.
It was ironic that Griffin didn’t find the end zone until 1981 only because he filed for bankruptcy later that year. But unlike modern athletes, Griffin didn’t lose his money after buying several cars and making poor financial purchases.
Archie and his brother, Ray, filed for personal bankruptcy “after a three-year venture, involving six athletic shoe stores, failed,” according to the New York Times.
The brothers, both of whom played for the Bengals, had combined debts of over $1 million. Their assets totaled over $200,000.
In a January 1982 interview with The New York Times, Griffin said, “I’ll be quite conservative in the future.”
Where is Archie Griffin now?
Archie Griffin turned 66 on August 21. He has remained around the college football world since he retired, though not inc coaching roles.
Griffin worked in Ohio State’s athletic department from 1985 through the early 2000s. Griffin also served as president and CEO of Ohio State’s alumni association from 2004-2015.
Every December, Griffin joins many other Heisman Trophy winners on stage in New York when the newest winner is crowned. Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow is the reigning winner.
It is not yet known if the 2020 Heisman Trophy ceremony, assuming the 2020 season happens as scheduled and an award is still provided, will take place in New York or be held virtually.