The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - November 18, 1996 - 3B
S .. T S S. *: 1 D I. , gHo'w'ar
The one-time Heisman trophy winner
discusses post-Michigan life in the NFL
No Michigan football fan will ever
oret the catch.
As the entire crowd of maize and blue
aithful held its breath, quarterback
Ivis Grbac unexpectedly dropped back
o pass on fourth down and inches. With
heave of his arm, the ball spiraled
rd the goal line. And with his entire
ody sprawled out parallel to the
, und, Desmond Howard made the
wiving catch in the end zone to ice the 27
.24.victory over Notre Dame in 1991.
It seems like it was just yesterday
vhen No. 21 scored three touchdowns
gainst Boston College, and it seems
ike just yesterday he flashed the
fesman pose in the end zone.
-m*t it's been five years now since he
edin that spectacular grab to finish
he"Fighting Irish. And it's already been
ive years since he won the Heisman
1roghy as the nation's best college foot-
Howard has moved on since his glory
iays in Ann Arbor Drafted in the first
tund by the Washington Redskins in
1991, Howard played four years in the
iatlon's capital before being selected by
'he.Jacksonville Jaguars in the expan-
'draft. Now a member of the Green
Say Packers, Howard is returning punts
rnd kickoffs as well as catching passes
-om quarterback Brett Favre.
Howard spoke with Daily Sports
Writer Jordan Field last week about his
days with the Wolverines, winning the
Heisman Trophy, making the catch and
his experience in the NFL.
iiy: Do you still follow Michigan
Howard: Oh yes. I missed the Purdue
game because we were on the plane
headed for Kansas City, but I try to fol-
low as much as I can. I was looking for-
ward, that after they beat Michigan State,
they would walk over Purdue, and then
get ready for Penn State and finish it off
with a tough game in Columbus against
the Buckeyes. I'm definitely in tune with
what's going on up
there. Like most of
my fellow alumni
I'm very disappoint-
ed with the loss at
D: Have you been.
back to Ann Arbor
for a game since
H: I didn't this
season, but since
graduating, I came
in for a game. I
think it was early in
the season, but I
can't remember who
we played or what
year it was.
D: Do you still keep in touch with
your former teammates from Michigan?
H: Definitely. I talk to a lot of them.
Especially to those who are in the league
with me: Chris Calloway, Derrick
Walker. A lot of older guys, Elvis Grbac,
a lot of guys who were at Michigan the
same time as me. I also still talk to a lot
of guys who aren't playing anymore, like
Tripp Welborne, Corwin Brown, Walter
D: You mentioned some former
teammates who play in the NFL. What
is it like playing against those former
teammates, who are now on opposing
H: It's fun playing against them. There
really isn't too much extra incentive
playing them because none really play
on teams that pose as very big rivals.
Calloway is with the Giants; we don't
even play those guys this year. But if we
play them in the playoffs or something
that would be great.
D: What about Elvis Grbac, your team
played against him and beat the 49'ers
H: Well, to beat the 49'ers was great
regardless. But to be
honest with you, I
pretty much want to
: see my fellow team-
mates do well. It
was good to see
Elvis play well. We
just happened to
play better for many
parts of the game,
and we were able to
come out with a big
D: Elvis Grbac
and yourself were
teammates in high
school as well as at
you like to team up with him one day in
H: Yes, I think that would be real
D: You will always be remembered for
your diving touchdown catch against
Notre Dame on fourth and inches. How
do you remember that game?
H: That game is really something that
is difficult to put into words. Even to
watch it again, after all these years, kind
of takes my breath away and leaves me
speechless. Not just that play, but every-
thing that was tied up in that football
game. Fourth and inches. It's Notre
Dame. We hadn't beaten them my whole
time at Michigan, and we finally beat
them that game. The catch was basically
the nail in the coffin. Everything
involved just makes that memory that
much more emotional and that much
D: Did playing in front of 100,000
people every Saturday at Michigan have
an effect on your reaction to the crowds
at NFL games?
H: Yes, it definitely helped. But in the
same way I think that a lot of these
crowds in the NFL are a lot louder. Some
crowds here take it to another level. It's
deafening. I don't think there is a college
stadium whose crowd can rival some of
the stadiums in the pros.
D: What are your proudest memories
from when you played at Michigan?
H: Well probably the pleasure of play-
ing under Bo Schembechler is probably
one of my proudest memories. The
friendships 1 made, and the teammates
who I came into contact with throughout
my duration at the school. Those people
and memories are everlasting.
And of course the exciting games. The
big play against Notre Dame, touch-
downs and victories against Michigan
State. Something I'm very proud of is
running the table against Ohio State. We
never lost to them while I was at
Michigan. Being able to return punts and
do what I did in the end zone. Those
things are so memorable and special they
just encompass the whole football expe-
rience I had at Michigan.
D: How would you compare the rela-
tionships of teammates at the collegiate
level to those at the professional level,
say in Green Bay?
H: I would say I really came into con-
tact with good people at both levels. I
have pretty good friendships from both
experiences so far. Obviously, it is a
business at this level and you're not
going to be as close with as many peo-
ple, but then again, the few people that
you do become close with here, are that
much closer. In college, it's not like any-
one wants anything from you. Especially
in the first couple of years. Both places
I've found genuine friends and also those
who are there for the camaraderie of the
football team. I think both levels have
their pros and cons as far as being able to
D: Aside from the relationships
between teammates, what are the biggest
differences between college and pro
H: The pros are definitely much more
political. It's a business at this level. The
game is quicker, you are playing against
the best athletes at every position. Those
guys, week in and week out, are the best
in the world at what they do.
D: What was it like winning the
Heisman Trophy and what does it mean
today to you that you won that presti-
gious award as a Michigan Wolverine?
H: It was definitely great. It was one
of the best feelings in the world to be
acknowledged as the best player in all of
college football. To be able to bring the
award back to Ann Arbor, it seemed fit-
ting that before I left the University, I
was able to give back something. I was
able to gain so much from the University
of Michigan especially from an academ-
ic standpoint and social standpoint. I felt
good and felt like I had the opportunity
to give something back to the University
D: At Michigan and as well as in the
pros, you play several different positions,
those being receiver and punt. or kick
returner. Do you prefer one position over
H: No, I really enjoy every position I
play. It's just good to get your hands on
the ball and show your talent.
D: Where do you think the Michigan
football team is headed this year?
H: Man, that loss to Purdue was so
discouraging. I have no idea where
they're going to go. I don't even know
the bowl-game picture for them now. I
wasn't even thinking about it yet,
because I was planning on them beating
Purdue and just getting ready for a tough
game with Penn State at home and then
going to Columbus to take care of the
Buckeyes. I don't know what they can do
now. We can only hope for the best.
Sollenberger in Paradise
No matter what Ohi
hen Gary Moeller was coach at Michigan, he used to say that the
Wolverines' biggest rival was Michigan State. He was dead
wrong. Because Michigan has no rival bigger than Ohio State.
Sure, Michigan-Michigan State is for state bragging rights and the advan-
tage in in-state recruiting.
But outside of the state of Michigan, no one really cares who wins the
Michigan-Michigan State game. You see, everyone in college football cares
who wins Michigan-Ohio State.
"There's nothing like Michigan-Ohio State," Michigan senior offensivye
lineman Damon Denson said. "The magnitude ... I just can't describe it. I
don't think Michigan State ... can replace that."
Even though the Wolverines and Buckeyes do not play for a prize, some-
thing much more important is usually at stake - the Big Ten championship
and a berth in the Rose Bowl.
Since the "Big Game" was moved to the last Saturday of the season in
1935, the rivalry has decided the Big Ten championship 32 times. On 18 of
those occasions, Michigan and Ohio State decided the title between them-
"The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is the biggest game of the year for
Michigan," said former Michigan quarterback Todd Collins, now with the
Buffalo Bills. "I look at it from a historical perspective. It was a big game
back in 1969, and I think it's still the biggest game today."
And who could forget 1969?
The year marked Bo Schembechler's first as Michigan coach. And in
November, the Buckeyes and their legendary coach, Woody Hayes, came
into Ann Arbor with an undefeated season and No. I ranking on the line.
What transpired was one of the greatest victories in Michigan history.
The Wolverines took advantage of six Ohio State turnovers for a stunning
"When I came here, Ohio State had gone undefeated the year before and
won the national championship," Schembechler said. "So obviously, that
was the team to beat for us. Then we beat them that first year. That was
probably like throwing fuel on the fire. For that first 10-year period, it was
like a war."
In those years, the Michigan-Ohio State game was more than a war. It
was the Big Ten conference.
The rivalry decided the Big Ten champion over each of the next six sea-
sons. During that span, the Wolverines went into the Ohio State game with
an astounding 57-0-2 record.
"Michigan State was always a big rival, and we pointed to that game,"
Schembechler said. "But we dominated them. The biggest rivalry was Ohio
How big was it for Schembechler and the Wolverines? Big enough for
Michigan to focus on it during every practice each season.
"We used to do something every day in preparation for Ohio State,
Schembechler said. "And we'd tell our players that. That we were preparing
for Ohio State."
The Wolverines' 14-3 victory over the Buckeyes in 1978 marked the final
showdown between Schembechler and Hayes. The rivalry between the two
coaches ended with Schembechler on top, 5-4-1.
This season, 18 years later, Michigan-Ohio State may seem to have lost
some of its luster, because the Buckeyes have already locked up a Rose
Don't tell that to anybody in Columbus.
Ohio State fans are furious about their team's recent struggles against
See PARADISE, Page 8B
MICHIGAN SPORTS INFORMATION
Demond Howard poses with the Heisman trophy he won as a Wolverine in 1991.
Howard currently plays for the Green Bay Packers.
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