Congratulations to Charlie Ward
Posted by Troy Hebert
(Note from NoleCC: Troy doesn’t know it, but this has been promoted from the comment pages to the front page because I think it’s a fantastic thank you to Charlie Ward, and an example of what I wish all Seminole fans strive to be.)Â
As much as can be said about Bobby has already been said. I could tread no new ground there, and I donâ€™t even dare to speak the name. I am only 25 years old, so there is so much to him that I can only read about. Itâ€™s sad for me when my father tries to engage me (more like BAIT me) into conversations about â€œthe GREATEST running back of ALL TIMEâ€ or â€œthe greatest COACH IN (insert sport here) of all timeâ€ and i really canâ€™t give an honest answer.
For instance, I get baited into the running back decision, and like usual – I have to go first (so he can tell me im wrong) and my choice has been and always will be Barry Sanders. I can remember watching him when I first began watching football as a kid – and the way he movedâ€¦ Was un-recreatable. Sure, we could wear our Dan Marino jerseys and fire bullets all over the back yard and eventually some would find their target, but none of us could move like Barry. My Father, would tell me im wrong – and then recite off a list that Ive heard a hundred times beforeâ€¦ Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Walter Payton. I got a few glimpses of Payton, but only highlight reels of the others.
Heck, we could make a highlight reel of Lorenzo Booker and 20 years from now people would wonder how he didnt win the Heisman. Its what they do game in, game out.
I only bored you with that story, for one reason: Charlie Ward.
Charlie Ward is the greatest player in College Football History. I say that, presumably as a biased fan of the Florida State Seminoles. But not entirely. Charlie Ward is the REASON that I am a biased fan of the Florida State Seminoles.
I was 10 when i watched the 1991 seminoles, led by casey weldon, run through the season – and i had started to grow attached to that Old Man of a head coach they had. He was generous, funny, he tipped his hat to his players, his BOYS, and never seemed self promoting, or arrogant. The other schools in florida – well, one just hired a smug, cocky, visor-throwing Youngster, who blamed players for not correctly executing his brilliant schemes, and attempted to belittle every school he played. Miami, was full of brash players who talked more than they could back up.
Florida State was becoming my school. But, Michigan was there. Desmond Howard was the most dynamic player in College, and Notre Dame was Notre Dame. I liked Georgia (since they hated UF as much as i was starting to), and even found myself rooting for Washington. My Aunt went there, and i had visited the campus when i was 9. it was everything that college was supposed to look like.
Well. Then Charlie Ward arrived on the scene. I remember my Dad (not much of a NCAA football fan) buying me all the preseason magazines for that season, and i couldnt stop reading how the former punter was going to play quarterback for the Noles. I was amazed.
And then the 1992 and 1993 seasons happened. I wonâ€™t bore you with the play by play, game by game analysis. I am incapable of putting Charlieâ€™s effortless and flawless performances into words.
Bottom line isâ€¦. Charlie Ward was Great. He won Every award he was eligible for, ran away with the heisman trophy – and lost 2 games in his career. One on a field goal to miami, and the other – the game of the century to Notre Dame. I didnâ€™t sleep that night, and i still remember yelling at the TV that Matt Friar was open in front of the end zone. Charlie couldnâ€™t see him because that DAMN NOTRE DAME BAND was all dressed in white, too – and was 3 feet off the sidelines. He would have fought his way in. and we would have found a way to win that game.
I own dozens of FSU games on video, as well as highlight videos from the various seasons. But none get played as much as those from 1992 and 1993. Orange Re-Wards in 1992, and On the Ward Path, the countdown to glory 1993 video. I feel like a little kid when i watch those tapes. I can put myself on the middle of the living room floor, the front door wide open, letting the breeze in – me in my â€œyou must be 17 to win the Heismanâ€ shirt onâ€¦ sitting there enjoying the game. It might truly be the last season I will ever be that calm watching FSU football. Since Charlie left, its been a constant stream of Sitting on the edge of the couch – throwing stuffed footballs at the tv, or slapping my head in my hands at Doak Campbell Stadium. Nobody put me at ease like Charlie. I knew we were going to win.
He helped me through some of the toughest times of my life. during the fall of 1992, my parents got seperated and divorced – and i spent most of my day drawing pictures of charlie leaping over the pack, throwing bombs, or watching tv waiting for them to talk about my noles. I read every magazine i could that had an article on him, and taped every game, and watched them over and over and over until i couldnâ€™t keep my eyes open any more.
In 1993, my mom moved to Boston, where i spent my christmas vacation. I watched the National Championship game in an empty apartment with a pound dog named â€œBrownâ€. It was 3 degrees outside. There was so much snow, that my mom spent 20 minutes shoveling it off the door when she got home from work that night.
After Nebraska missed their kick, i laid my head down on the carpet and stared at the ceiling for at least an hour. I didnt move. It was heaven. We were the best team in the country. We had the best player in the world, and we were National Champions.
An unbelievable feeling.
To this dayâ€¦. almost 13 years later, i can see every play. I own the DVD, and though it wasnâ€™t charlieâ€™s best game – i still watch it, just to remember. There was nobody better in the history of the game than Charlie Ward. He was, and always will be the Reason i love this team.
We took a chance on a kid from Thomasville, who didnt have the grades – went to TCC, got qualified – came in, worked harder than anyone, stayed humble, and took this team to the promised land.
I have never had the opportunity to meet Charlie Ward, to shake his hand, or get his autograph. I wouldnâ€™t know what to say to the man. Heâ€™s my hero. When everyone else wore batman, or spiderman costumes for halloween – i wore my number 17 jersey, and my red wristbands, and i was Charlie Ward. He was my Super Hero. Still is.
Congratulations on the Hall of Fame, Charlie.