Quarterback Marcus Mariota accepted the first ever Heisman Trophy awarded to an Oregon Ducks football player with a touching and gracious speech.
Rather than merely celebrate his victory, Mariota expressed gratitude for his family, his community, and his team.
“I am honored to be standing here,” Mariota began. “This award belongs to my teammates. The amount of sacrifice they have made is not unnoticed.”
Mariota continued, thanking the University of Oregon for the opportunity to play football and receive an education, the community of Eugene for being supportive, and his friends and neighbors home in Hawaii for shaping his character.
After taking a moment to compose himself and wipe tears from his face, Mariota began to thank his parents, muttering “This is the hard part.”
“Thank you for sacrificing, and for providing me and Matt every opportunity we could ever have. Words can’t express how much you guys mean to me. I am truly grateful to have you guys in my life. Mom and dad, thank you for your love and for sharing it with me and Matt. We are truly grateful,” he said.
“It was moving,” Rob Mullens, University of Oregon’s athletic director, said of the speech. “The whole room was crying. I’m sitting facing the stage, I’ve got tears in my eyes, I’m looking at a camera man who’s not even watching and he’s wiping tears from his eyes.”
Many of Mariota’s teammates stated that he was as good of a person off the field as he was a player on the field.
“It’s hard to put into words just what kind of person he is,” receiver Keanon Lowe said. “On the field, he’s obviously brilliant. But off the field, he is one of the most genuine people I’ve met in my life. He’s just a special guy.”
Mariota won the award with 90.9 percent of total points cast—the second highest margin in Heisman history.