Heisman trophy winners are certainly not a dime a dozen. Only 3 Heisman winners in the history of the NFL Draft have gone undrafted. Pete Dawkins, RB... Army 1958 - Jason White, QB... Oklahoma 2003 & Charlie Ward, QB ...1993. Out of these 3 players, only one could really be considered as "One That Got Away". Dawkins went on to become a very well known and powerful Army General. Jason White's career was pretty much over before it even began with the injuries. Which leaves Charlie Ward. While I was stationed in FL I remember an extremely talented young quarteback named Charlie Ward. Anybody remember him as a quarterback and not a NY Knick? - The brilliant and exciting young signal-caller from Georgia, was the first Florida State Seminole player to win the Heisman Trophy, and the only Heisman trophy winner to play in the NBA. He played at Florida State from 1989-1993 and he was considered to be the nation's premier young quarterback after the 1993 season. With an almost unbelievable near 70% completion average, he had the ability to throw the long pass as well as the short. He was a pretty awsome basketball player too. In 1993, he won the Heisman Trophy- Johnny Unitas Award - James E. Sullivan Award - Walter Camp Award - Maxwell Award - and the Davey O'Brien Award. In 2006, he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. He was also drafted as a pitcher by the Milwaukee Brewers in the free agent draft and by the New York Yankees in 1994. He never played baseball in college. He was drafted in 1994 by the New York Knicks, who selected him as the 26th overall pick. .So what happened ? What made him go to the NBA ? Well .... It seems Ward had stated he was undecided about professional basketball or football and made it clear that he would not consider playing in the NFL unless selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. But because teams did not want to waste a first round pick on a player that "might" eventually choose the NBA. The NFL it seems had decided, and Ward was not selected in the 1st round of the NFL Draft
After being drafted by the Knicks in the 94' NBA Draft, (in the first round) Ward was used sparingly in his rookie year under head coach Pat Riley. The following year after taking over following Rileys departure, Don Nelson was fired during the 1995-96 season after 59 games. Jeff Van Gundy took over the head coaching position and Ward's time on the floor began to increase. In the 1996-97 season, his 3rd year in the league, Ward averaged 8.3 ppg and 6.0 apg in 30.7 mpg in games in which he started. Overall, Ward averaged 5.2 points, 4.1 assists and 1.05 steals in 22.3 minutes, all career-highs. He played in more games and logged more minutes than in his first two seasons combined. Ward ranked second on the Knicks in assists and fourth in steals. Ward's 48 three-pointers also ranked fourth on the team. He led the Knicks in assists 22 times, reaching double figures three times. In 1997, in the playoffs, a brawl near the end of Game 5 resulted in suspensions of key players. Ward was suspended for games 6 & 7. The Knicks lost the series. In 1998, he was selected to participate in the NBA All-Star three-point competition, and finished fourth in the event. He also helped the Knicks reach the 1999 NBA Finals. Between 99' and 04' he had established himself as a good three-point shooter, a reliable ball distributor, and a respected floor leader That is until ......... he was traded to the Phoenix Suns in January 2004 as part of the blockbuster trade, by who else ... that sent Stephon Marbury to the Knicks. Yes he was an Isiah Thomas casualty. One among many.
Sadly, an extrordinary athelete was promptly cut by the Phoenix Suns for salary purposes. He spent the remainder of the season with the Spurs, and signed a contract with the Houston Rockets the following summer of 2005.Ward enjoyed good health over his first decade in the league, but injuries caused him to miss most of the 2004-05 season. Because of his injuries, Charlie Ward would retire. In 2006, he bacame an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets. Being retired from the game now. Charlie has turned his attention towards coaching. In June 2007, he was hired as an assistant coach for the varsity boys basketball team by Westbury Christian School in Houston, Texas.
Charlie Ward has had a pretty good, if not average, NBA career. Certainly nothing outstanding. It all leaves me to wonder just what kind of quarterback in the NFL he could have become had he chosen football instead of basketball for a profession. I remember the hype surrounding him when he won the Heisman trophy. Think Michael Vick 15 years ago. He just may have been a HOFer that got away from the NFL. He probably wouldn't be the first, and most likely won't be the last. Peace-0ut