Danny Wuerffel enshrined in new College Football Hall of Fame, thanks God

by Joni B. Hannigan , Editorial Staff |

(Christian Examiner/Courtesy Jessica Quinn)Danny Wuerffel, former quarterback for University of Florida and a 2013 College Football Hall of Fame inductee was enshrined into the hall Oct. 7 at its new location in Atlanta where he spoke on behalf of the 2014 Hall of Fame inductees.

ATLANTA (Christian Examiner) -- Danny Wuerffel, former quarterback for Florida, thanked God for his success at the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame dedication Tuesday night.

"Thank God for the gifts He has given us, and for the people who helped shape who we are," Wuerffel told the crowd in an address aired live on ESPN3. "It's an honor for us to be here. Thank you. God bless you, and go Gators."

Wuerffel joined 11 other players and two coaches were in the 2013 hall of fame class, and enshrined the same night as the official College Football Hall of Fame dedication gala marking the relocation of the hall from South Bend, Indiana to near Centennial Olympic Park.

Executive director of the non-profit, Atlanta-based Desire Street Ministries, Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, played six years in the National Football League after graduating from University of Florida.

Speaking on behalf of the 2014 Hall of Fame enshrinees, Wuerffel thanked all who invested in the players throughout the years—including those around long before players set foot on the gridiron.

A few years ago, Wuerffel said he would have attributed some of his success to self-talk, a voice in his head.

"I remember wanting to win a race in first grade and I said to myself, 'you're so fast.' I remember almost cheating on a test once, and I didn't, and I remember that voice saying, 'you're a good kid,' you're smart, don't cheat, so I didn't," Wuerffel recalled.

And then he had a son and heard his mother speaking to his newborn—"Jonah, you are such a good boy. You are so strong. You are so amazing," he recalled her saying.

(Christian Examiner/Courtesy Jessica Quinn)Danny Wuerffel and his wife Jessica after the former quarterback for University of Florida and a 2013 College Football Hall of Fame inductee was enshrined into the hall Oct. 7 at its new location in Atlanta where he spoke on behalf of the 2014 Hall of Fame inductees.

Wuerffel said he laughed and then cried when he realized the voices he had heard all along were never his to begin with.

"It was the voice of my mom, my dad, my coaches, the teammates, the pastors, and ultimately I believe that it was the voice of God speaking through them and into my heart long before I threw a touch down, long before I won any trophy or was in any hall of fame. I knew that I was loved—just because."

For Wuerffel—one of only two Heisman Trophy winners to also receive the Draddy Trophy, presented annually by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of fame to the nation's top football scholar-athlete—the journey has been sweet.

"We all come from different places in our faith journey, but I think I can speak on behalf of our class by saying thank God for the gifts he's given us, and for the people who helped shape who we are," Wuerffel told those gathered at the College Football Hall of Fame.

The day after the ceremony, Wuerffel told Christian Examiner a man who inspires him daily is Anthony Gordon, a 60-year-old minister on staff of Desire Street Ministries who has devoted his life to work in the inner cities.

"He gives back to urban leaders through his counsel—sharing from his expertise and experience," Wuerffel said.

Wuerffel is said to know a thing or two about giving back. The Wuerffel Trophy, awarded since 2005 by the All Sports Association, fills a major void in football's post-season awards because of its focus on community service.

Mike Bianchi, of the Orlando Sentinel, in describing the award said: "The Wuerffel. The Humanitarian Heisman. It's about time. There's an award for the best quarterback, best running back, wide receiver, best linebacker, best center and even best kicker and punter. Why not one for the best human being?"

Finalists for the Wuerffel are announced in November by the ASA at All Sports Association To learn more about Wuerffel's ministry, go to Desire Street Ministries

--Jessica Quinn contributed to this article.