Griffin, Archie

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Archie Griffin


American football player

Archie Griffin's name will forever be linked to his improbable winning of two Heisman Trophies during the 1975 and 1976 seasons. To capture one of these honors is itself enough to etch a college football player's name into the book of legends. In a sports climate where most winners of the Heisman immediately go on to lucrative careers in the National Football League (NFL), Griffin returned for a final season, graduated a quarter early, and then went on to the NFL.

Growing Up

Archie Griffin was born on August 21, 1954, to James Griffin and Margaret Monroe Griffin in Columbus, Ohio. The middle brother in a family of seven boys,

Archie was surrounded by natural athleteseach of his brothers would play college football, and three would play in the NFL.

Griffin's father worked long and hard to support his family, knowing that the best he could do for his children was to give them a chance at a good education. At one point, he worked three jobs, balancing his days between driving a sanitation truck, cleaning a school and then working in a steel foundry at night.

Growing up, Archie Griffin was short and somewhat overweight, thus earning him the nicknames "Tank" and "Butterball" among his peers. When he began Eastmoor High in Columbus, his football coach didn't see him as the fullback he would eventually become, and he rarely touched the ball until the regular Eastmoor fullback didn't show up. Archie, a freshman, took over for the missing player, and after an impressive performance, never played another game as a lineman.

Realizing he would need to change physically to be a success at fullback, Archie hit the weight room to strengthen his upper bodythe constant pulling and pounding a running back took demanded a stronger upper body than Archie had.

Though he would run track and wrestle, the football field was where his hard work and natural talent combined to propel him to greatness. Griffin remained the starting halfback at Eastmoor High School for the next three years, earning all-district honors as a junior, and being honored as a member of the All-State Team after leading them to the City Championship in 1972 (his senior year). Archie duplicated his on-field successes in the classroom, as well. He was an outstanding student.

College Success Follows High School Success

Because he was such an ambitious student, Griffin wanted to attend Northwestern University. The coach of Ohio State at the time, howeverWoody Hayeskept the young phenom in his hometown, charming Archie into playing for Ohio State.

Hayes put the 5'8" tall, 180 pound freshman into the team's starting lineup in only the second game of the seasonas a running back. In a game against North Carolina, Archie broke the all-time Ohio State rushing record, gaining 239 yards and scoring a touchdown.

In his sophomore yearone filled with many outstanding achievementsGriffin began what was and still is a remarkable record of consecutive 100-yard performances, as well as leading his team to a lopsided victory over the eighth ranked University of Southern California Trojans. During the 1973 season, Griffin broke his own single game rushing record, amassing an awesome 246 yards in a performance against Iowa in a late-season contest. The Buckeyes finished the season 10-0-1, in second place in the final rankings.


1954Born August 21 to James Griffin and Margaret Monroe Griffin in Columbus, Ohio
1968Enters Columbus' Eastmoor High School
1972Leads his high school team to Columbus City Championship in his junior year
1972Earns starting running back position with Ohio State as a freshman
1974Wins first Heisman Trophy
1975Awarded second Heisman Trophy
1975Receives NCAA's Top Five Award, top honor an undergraduate can receive
1976Graduates a quarter early from Ohio State with degree in industrial relations
1976Drafted in first round by Cincinnati Bengals
1981Plays on Cincinnati's Super Bowl team
1983Retires from Bengals, fourth all-time leading rusher for the team, fifth all-time leading receiver
1983Attempts sporting shoe business with his brother, but it fails
1984Returns to his alma mater to work as assistant athletic director
1985Accepts appointment to position of Special Assistant to the Director of Athletics at Ohio State
1987Named Assistant Director of Athletics at Ohio State University
1994Receives promotion to the Associate Director of Athletics, overseeing 18 sports at Ohio State University
1999Honored in ceremony in Ohio Stadium where his jersey, #45, is retired. First Buckeye to receive this honor

When Griffin entered his junior year at Ohio State, many fans wondered what more they could possibly see out of their star. In his junior season, Griffin gained 1620 yards and earned the most votes in the 1974 Heisman Trophy competition. The very next year, he came back and gained 1357 yards, again winning the Heisman and becoming the first (and most likely only) player to ever win two Heisman Trophy Awards.

The Pros

Griffin was taken as the second pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the 1976 NFL draft. He played with the Bengals for eight seasons, and in what would become another makeover for the once-lineman turned exceptional running back, Griffin honed his pass-receiving skills, adding another weapon to his arsenal. When he retired from the Bengals in 1983, Griffin left the team ranked fourth on the team's all-time leading rusher list, gaining 2808 yards (averaging four per carry), and fifth on the alltime leading receiver list, with 192 receptions.

College Was Where It Was At

Archie Griffin was named a member of almost every major collegiate sports hall of fame for his football dominance from 1972-1976. At Ohio State, he broke nearly all standing rushing records, and in the process set national marks and Big Ten marks for single season rushing and for his college career. He had been named captain of his 1974 Buckeye team, and, in a move mostly unheard of, voted to captain a second time by his teammates in 1975.

At the conclusion of his collegiate career, Griffin received the NCAA's Top Five Award, an honor that says more about Griffin than his on-field accomplishments. This is the top honor an undergraduate can receive, and is given based on a combination of athletic skill, academic accomplishment, leadership and character. Griffin actually graduated a quarter early with a degree in industrial relations.

The Griffin Legacy

When he moved on to the NFL, his size kept him from dominating quite so handily. Though he would have a successful NFL career, his triumphs on the collegiate football fields will cement him as a standout figure in college lore forever. His name will always find a way into sports trivia as "the only man to win two Heismans."

When he retired from the Cincinnati Bengals in 1983, Griffin had a short stint playing football with the Jacksonville Bulls of the United States Football League. He also tried his business skills by opening a shoe store chain with his brother, but both of these endeavors ultimately proved unsuccessful, and unfulfilling, for Griffin.

Soon after he left Ohio State University, Griffin wrote an inspirational autobiography, Archie: The Archie Griffin Story, that gave readers an inside look into Archie Griffin the man. In the book, he answers the question of, "Where did his tremendous inner-strength and determination come from?" He felt he owed the course of his character and personal discipline to Christ. Griffin had long been a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and his place in the public eye and his articulate nature made him a sought-after motivational speaker both during and after his years with the Bengals.

His name is now forever linked to two Heisman Trophies, an accomplishment that will likely never be duplicated. Archie Griffin has proven his amazing skills on the football field, at both the collegiate and professional levels. But it is in his life after sports where he has made some of his greatest contributions. In his roles as goodwill ambassador for Ohio and in his responsibilities with Ohio State's athletic program-where he helps shape the lives of thousands of young people-Archie is leaving a legacy. Playing football gave Griffin fame, but his heart and courage allowed him to succeed in life.

Career Statistics

CIN: Cincinnati Bengals.


Address: Archie Griffin, Administration, 224 St. John Arena, 410 Woody Hayes Dr., Columbus, OH 43210.

Awards and Accomplishments

1973Came in fifth in Heisman Trophy Voting
1973NCAA All-American; named Big Ten Player of the Year
1973-74Silver Football Trophy
1974-75Won Heisman Trophy
1974UPI College Football Player of the Year
1974Big Ten Player of the Year
1974Walter Camp Player of the Year
1975Maxwell Award
1975Sporting News "Man of the Year" award
1981Inducted into Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame
1986Inducted into National High School Sports Hall of Fame
1986Inducted into National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame
1987Inducted into Columbus Urban League's Hall of Fame
1990Inducted into Rose Bowl Hall of Fame
1990Receives Branch Rickey Award
1993Inducted into The Columbus Public Schools Hall of Fame
1994Winner of Walter Camp Alumni Award
1999Receives Price Waterhouse Coopers Doak Walker Legends Award
2001Receives NCAA Silver Anniversary Award

Where Is He Now?

Archie Griffin returned to Ohio State University almost immediately after retiring from the Bengals. In 1985 he was named the Special Assistant to the Director of Athletics. Then, in 1987, he became the Assistant Director of Athletics. By 1994 he had been promoted to the Senior Associate Athletic Director at Ohio State University, where he still works today.

At Ohio State, Griffin is directly responsible for the football program, as well as seventeen other sports. He is known as one of Ohio's ambassadors of goodwill, and he's a legend in the lore of a state where football is its unofficial religion. Archie Griffin is married to Bonita, and they have three sons: Anthony, Andre and Adam.


(With Dave Diles) Archie: The Archie Griffin Story, Doubleday, 1977.



"Archie Griffin." Great Athletes, volume 3, Farrell-Holdsclaw. Hackensack, N.J.: Salem Press, Inc. 1045-1047.

"Archie Griffin, Mr." Who's Who Among African Americans, 14th ed. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001.

"Archie Mason Griffin." Almanac of Famous People, 6th ed. Detroit: Gale, 1998.

Dolan, Edward F., Jr. and Richard B. Lyttle. Archie Griffin. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977.

Griffin, Archie, and Dave Diles. Archie: The Archie Griffin Story. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977.

Mendell, Ronald L., and Timothy B. Phares. "Archie Griffin." Who's Who in Football. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1974.


"Griffin hangs up his cleats-again." Sporting News (April 1, 1985): 6.

"Griffin prepared for backup job." Sporting News (October 3, 1981): 50.

"Heisman hero still hoping for solid shot with Bengals."

Jet (September 20, 1982): 50.

Ladson, William. "Didn't you used to be Archie Griffin?" Sport (January 1989): 82.

Wessling, Jack, and Sandra Kobrin. "Griffins file for bankruptcy." Footwear News (January 4, 1982): 25.


"Archie Griffin." (October 29, 2002).

"Archie Griffin." (October 29, 2002).

Sketch by Eric Lagergren

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Griffin, Archie

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