As long as the Heisman Trophy is awarded at the end of every college football season, no player’s acceptance speech will ever approach that of Penn State’s John Cappelletti in 1973.
The bruising tailback rushed for 1,522 yards and scored 17 TDs in leading the Nittany Lions to an undefeated season. A big part of that magical season was Cappelletti’s younger brother, Joey, who was suffering from childhood leukemia.
Upon accepting the stiff-armed trophy, Cappelletti said that his exploits on the field were nothing in comparison to his brother’s day-to-day struggles.
“I think a lot of people think that I go through a lot on Saturdays,” he tearfully told those gathered. “Only for me it is on Saturdays and it’s only in the fall. For Joseph, it is all year round and it is a battle that is unending with him. He puts up with much more than I’ll ever put up with and I think that this trophy is more his than mine because he has been a great inspiration to me.”
Joey Cappelletti would lose his battle with leukemia in 1976. Today, John — who spent ten seasons in the NFL — lives in Laguna Niguel, CA, where he works in sales and manufacturing.
The 78th Heisman Trophy will be awarded in New York City this Saturday night. John Cappelletti profile