Wuerffel speaking at Eglin Air Force Base in February 2009
|No. 7, 17|
|Date of birth:||May 27, 1974|
|Place of birth:||Fort Walton Beach, Florida|
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||212 lb (96 kg)|
|High school:||Fort Walton Beach (FL)|
|NFL draft:||1997 / Round: 4 / Pick: 99|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Daniel Carl Wuerffel (born May 27, 1974) is a former college and professional American football quarterback who won the 1996 Heisman Trophy and the 1996 national football championship while playing college football for the University of Florida. Wuerffel was a prolific passer in coach Steve Spurrier's offense. He led the nation in touchdown passes in 1995 and 1996, and set numerous school and conference records. Wuerffel was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
After graduating from Florida, Wuerffel was drafted by the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL). He spent six years in the league with four teams, finding limited success as a backup and an occasional starter. He also played a season in NFL Europe, where he led the Rhein Fire to a league championship and was named MVP of World Bowl 2000.
Wuerffel retired from professional football in 2002 and returned to New Orleans to work with Desire Street Ministries, a nonprofit organization that seeks to help impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development. Wuerffel had first become involved with the organization while playing for the Saints in the late 1990s, and as the organization attempted to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, he became its executive director. Under Wuerffel, Desire Street Ministries moved its headquarters to Atlanta and expanded its programs to other inner cities in the American south.
Wuerffel was born in Pensacola, Florida, in 1974, the son of a Lutheran minister who was a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force. While he was growing up, his family and he lived in South Carolina, Spain, Nebraska, and Colorado before he attended Fort Walton Beach High School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Wuerffel was a standout high school football and basketball player for the Fort Walton Beach Vikings. In football, he led the Vikings to an undefeated season as a senior quarterback, while winning the Florida Class 4A state football championship in 1991 and earning the number two national ranking in USA Today. Wuerffel was widely considered the top high school football recruit in the state of Florida, and USA Today's high school player of the year in Florida during his senior year. He graduated from high school as his class valedictorian.
Wuerffel accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he played quarterback for head coach Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators football team from 1993 to 1996. One of the most decorated players in Florida's football history, he was a key member of the Gators teams that won four consecutive Southeastern Conference titles between 1993 and 1996. Wuerffel graduated from the university with a bachelor's degree in public relations, and was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 2006. On September 30, 2006, Wuerffel was inducted into the Gator Football Ring of Honor alongside his former coach Spurrier and two other former Gator players, Jack Youngblood and Emmitt Smith. Wuerffel was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
The 1993 season was the first in which the Gators were ranked in the AP top 10 every week. In the second week, quarterbacks Wuerffel and Terry Dean throw a total of seven interceptions against Kentucky. With eight seconds left, Wuerffel threw a pass down the middle to walk-on receiver Chris Doering for the game-winning touchdown; Gator play-by-play announcer Mick Hubert shouted, "Doering's got a touchdown!" The next week, Florida recovered and defeated Heath Shuler-led, fifth-ranked Tennessee 41–34 in a "shootout".
The Gators roared through the 1995 regular season; their closest victory margin was 11 points—a feat all the more remarkable since they upended three teams which were ranked in the top 10. The Gators defeated Tennessee by so many points, it landed Wuerffel on the cover of Sports Illustrated, though it had supposedly planned to get Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning on the cover.
He led the Gators to the Bowl Alliance national championship game following the 1995 season, but ultimately lost 62–24 to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Fiesta Bowl. Wuerffel won the 1996 Heisman Trophy, as the outstanding college football player in America, while quarterbacking the Gators into their second consecutive Bowl Alliance national championship game with help from teammates Fred Taylor at running back; Reidel Anthony, Ike Hilliard, and Jacquez Green at wide receiver; and Jeff Mitchell on the offensive line. Wuerffel and the Gators won the 1996 national championship in decisive fashion by defeating the Florida State Seminoles 52–20 in the Sugar Bowl.
Individual awards and honors
Wuerffel was a first-team All-American in 1995, and a consensus first-team All-American in 1996. He received the Sammy Baugh Trophy in 1995, the Davey O'Brien Award in 1995 and 1996, and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 1996, and was named the Quarterback of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus in 1996. Wuerffel declined to be included on Playboy magazine's All-America team as well as its Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, saying, "That's not the type of person I am or would like to portray myself as." His Gators teammates picked him as the squad's most valuable player in 1995 and 1996; his coaches chose him as one of the Gators' team captains. He was later named to The Gainesville Sun's Florida Gators Team of the Century in 1999, was chosen by the Sun as the number onr player in the first 100 years of Gators football, and was listed as a member of the Florida Gators 100th Anniversary Team in 2006.
He is one of only two Heisman Trophy winners to also receive the Draddy Trophy, which is presented annually by the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame to the nation's top football scholar-athlete. Wuerffel was also a first-team Academic All-American in 1995 and 1996.
He finished his Gator career by completing 708 of 1,170 passes for 10,875 yards with 114 touchdown passes, the best in SEC history and second-most in major college history. His career pass efficiency rating of 163.56 was the best in major college history and his percentage of passes which went for a touchdown (9.74) ranked first in collegiate history. In 1995, his efficiency rating of 178.4 set a single-season collegiate record. During his Heisman-winning season of 1996, he completed 207 of 360 passes for 3,625 yards (an SEC record at the time) for 39 touchdowns (leading the nation) and his efficiency rating of 170.6 made him the first quarterback to ever post a rating of 170 or better in back-to-back years.
|1995||210||325||3,266 2||64.6%||35 1||10||178.4 1|
|1996||207||360||3,625 2||57.5%||39 1||13||170.6 2|
Notes: 1 indicates NCAA leader, 2 indicates SEC leader
The New Orleans Saints selected Wuerffel in the fourth round of the 1997 NFL Draft, and he played for the Saints for three seasons from 1997 to 1999. After spending single seasons as a backup with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, Wuerffel played one season for the Rhein Fire in NFL Europa, where he led the team to a league championship and was named MVP of World Bowl 2000. He returned to the NFL and was reunited with college coach Steve Spurrier when he signed with the Washington Redskins in 2001. Wuerffel started several games that season, alternating with fellow Florida Gator alumnus Shane Matthews, but was released by the team before the 2002 season, much to the chagrin of Spurrier.
After not signing with another team in 2002, Wuerffel decided to retire from professional football.
Life after the NFL
Wuerffel began work at Desire Street Ministries, a nonprofit, faith-based organization focusing on spiritual and community development in areas of New Orleans. He also speaks to college groups, such as the University of Florida Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In 2004, Wuerffel co-authored a book called Tales from the Gator Swamp, in which he covers his college football career.
The All Sports Association of Fort Walton Beach created the Wuerffel Trophy in his honor in 2005. Florida sculptor W. Stanley Proctor created the design which commemorates Danny Wuerffel, "as he prays after a touchdown. It is awarded annually by the All Sports Association of Fort Walton Beach, Florida to the athlete who best exemplifies Wuerffel's character on the field of play and in the classroom.
Hurricane Katrina destroyed Wuerffel's New Orleans home and the Desire Street Ministries facilities. He drew national attention with his efforts to rebuild Desire Street Ministries and New Orleans.
Wuerffel is still considered a hero at Florida for helping lead the Gators to their first national championship. As proof, in September 2013, he returned to the Swamp to serve as a "Celebrity Mr. Two Bits" for the Tennessee game--following his teammate on the 1996 Gators, Rhett.
In 2014, Emerald Bay Country Club in Destin, Florida, hosted the 1st Annual Danny Wuerffel Golf Classic, known as the "Danny Cup". A small stretch of road between the Mid-Bay Bridge and Highway 98 in Destin, still his parents' home, has been dedicated as "Danny Wuerffel Way" by the Florida state legislature.
- 1995 College Football All-America Team
- 1996 College Football All-America Team
- Florida Gators football, 1990–99
- List of Chicago Bears players
- List of Florida Gators football All-Americans
- List of Florida Gators football players in the NFL
- List of Green Bay Packers players
- List of Heisman Trophy winners
- List of Division I FBS career passing touchdown leaders
- List of Division I career FBS passing yardage leaders
- List of NCAA major college football yearly passing leaders
- List of New Orleans Saints players
- List of SEC Most Valuable Players
- List of University of Florida alumni
- List of Washington Redskins players
- "Charity Spotlight: Danny Wuerffel and Desire Street Ministries". The Heisman Trust. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
- Walker, Dave (19 August 2015). "ESPN to premiere Desire Street Academy documentary 'Wuerffel's Way'". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
- Pro-Football-Reference.com, Players, Danny Wuerffel. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
- databaseFootball.com, Players, Danny Wuerffel. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
- 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 83, 86, 88, 93, 97, 99, 100–103, 125, 158, 159, 162, 173, 186 (2011). Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
- Robbie Andreu, "Wuerffel, Doering to enter UF Hall," Ocala Star-Banner (April 21, 2006). Retrieved July 22, 2011.
- Ivan Maisel, "Heisman trio highlight Class of 2013," ESPN (May 7, 2013). Retrieved May 7, 2013.
- "NFF Proudly Announces Stellar 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Class," National Football Foundation (May 7, 2013). Retrieved May 7, 2013.
- "Gators' streak vs. 'Cats filled with close calls". Gatorsports.com.
- Kassidy Hill. "FlashBack Friday with the Florida Gators: Chris Doering". GatorCountry.com.
- "Shuler's Advice To Vols: Avoid A Gator Shootout". tribunedigital-sunsentinel.
- Sports-Reference.com, College Football, 1996 Heisman Trophy Voting. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- 2012 NCAA Football Records Book, Award Winners, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, Indiana, pp. 10 & 14 (2012). Retrieved September 14, 2012.
- "NCAA Quarterback of the Year". Touchdown Club of Columbus. April 6, 2009.
- "SPORTS PEOPLE: COLLEGE FOOTBALL;Florida's Wuerffel Spurns Playboy Honor". The New York Times. May 10, 1996.
- Robbie Andreu & Pat Dooley, "No. 1 Danny Wuerffel," The Gainesville Sun (September 2, 2006). Retrieved March 30, 2013.
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Draft History, 1997 National Football League Draft. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- National Football League, Historical Players, Danny Wuerffel. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- Cobb, Sue M.; McCarthy, Allison (March 8, 2006). "W. Stanley "Sandy" Proctor to be Inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame" (Press release). Tallahassee, Florida: Division of Cultural Affairs, Secretary of State of Florida. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- "The Wuerffel Trophy news". Fort Walton Beach, Florida: All Sports Association. 2014. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
- Pat Dooley, "Wuerffel leaves hospital after treatment for nervous system disorder," The Gainesville Sun (June 15, 2011). Retrieved June 15, 2011.
- "1st Annual Danny Wuerffel Golf Classic". Destin Magazine. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
- "1st Annual Danny Wuerffel Golf Classic". Destin Magazine. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
- Carlson, Norm, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia (2007). ISBN 0-7948-2298-3.
- Golenbock, Peter, Go Gators! An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory, Legends Publishing, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida (2002). ISBN 0-9650782-1-3.
- Hairston, Jack, Tales from the Gator Swamp: A Collection of the Greatest Gator Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing, LLC, Champaign, Illinois (2002). ISBN 1-58261-514-4.
- McCarthy, Kevin M., Fightin' Gators: A History of University of Florida Football, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (2000). ISBN 978-0-7385-0559-6.
- Nash, Noel, ed., The Gainesville Sun Presents The Greatest Moments in Florida Gators Football, Sports Publishing, Inc., Champaign, Illinois (1998). ISBN 1-57167-196-X.
- Career statistics and player information from NFL.com • ESPN • CBS Sports • Yahoo! Sports • SI.com • Pro-Football-Reference • Rotoworld
- Danny Wuerffel at the College Football Hall of Fame
- Danny Wuerffel at the Heisman Trophy official website
- Desire Street Ministries – Official website of Desire Street Ministries