Hall welcomes UF's Wuerffel


Former Florida Gators quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel is presented his plaque in honor of being elected into the College Football Hall of Fame before a game against Tennessee at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville on Sept. 21, 2013.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Su
Published: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:49 p.m.

On his very first trip to New York City as a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1995, Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel thought he'd been the victim of a robbery.

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Former Florida Gators quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel is presented his plaque in honor of being elected into the College Football Hall of Fame before a game against Tennessee at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville on Sept. 21, 2013.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Su

“I went into our room. This place, we left our bags,” Wuerffel said. “We went out for dinner, me and my roommate. We came back and someone had taken our bags in the hotel. We realized all our stuff was missing.

“We called security and they came up. They found our bags in the closet. They said, 'Did the thieves also leave chocolates on your pillow?' We had no idea what turndown service was. This was quite a phenomenal place.”

Wuerffel didn't know all that much about the Big City or the Big Time back then. He does now, all these years later.

On Tuesday night in New York City, one of the greatest and most respected players in Gator football history was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame during the National Football Foundation's annual awards dinner.

“I feel like this is a great big celebration,” Wuerffel said at a news conference earlier in the day. “It's a little bit like a birthday party. On one hand, it's fun to be the center of attention. It's also quite a party and it's fun to celebrate with the people you love. The National Football Foundation throws quite a party.”

Wuerffel was one of 12 players, along with two coaches, voted into the Hall of Fame in May. Wuerffel and the others were inducted into the Hall during ceremonies Tuesday.

The rest of the HOF class of 2013 includes players Ted Brown (North Carolina State), Tedy Bruschi (Arizona), Ron Dayne (Wisconsin), Tommie Frazier (Nebraska), Jerry Gray (Texas), Steve Meilinger (Kentucky), Orlando Pace (Ohio State), Rod Shoate (Oklahoma), Percy Snow (Michigan State), Vinny Testaverde (Miami) and Don Trull (Baylor), along with coaches Wayne Hardin (Navy, Temple) and Bill McCartney (Colorado).

During Wuerffel's college career (1993-96), he led the Gators to four consecutive SEC titles and a national championship in his senior season, the same year he became the second Florida player to win the Heisman Trophy.

For his career, Wuerffel was a two-time All-America who threw for 10,875 yards (fifth-most in major college history) and 114 touchdowns, an SEC record that stood until it was surpassed this season by Georgia's Aaron Murray.

Wuerffel is the tenth Gator to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, joining players Carlos Alvarez, Wilber Marshall, Emmitt Smith, Steve Spurrier, Dale Van Sickel and Jack Youngblood, and coaches Charlie Bachman, Ray Graves and Doug Dickey.

“I'm very grateful for a lot of things, foremost, my family gets to be a part of this,” Wuerffel said. “My dad in the back of the room, who I love and respect. My son, Jonah, back there.

“Hey, buddy, everybody's celebrating me in the Hall of Fame, but if I had to pick a Hall of Fame, you'd be in it. I'm proud of you, buddy.

“I'm obviously thankful for my coaches and teammates (at Florida), especially coach Spurrier and all that he did for me.”

Wuerffel also thanked the sport of football and the NFF.

“I just read not long ago that in the history of the world, every culture had a certain way of initiating their boys from age 13 to 16 into manhood,” Wuerffel said. “This particular historian said we really don't do that anymore in our country, and it's to our detriment.

“As I read that, I thought, you know, the sport of football is one of the few ways we really do instill some of these principles into young men: life is tough, it's not about you. You're not that important, you're not in control. These tough life lessons.

“I'm so thankful for the sport of football. In particular, I would like to thank the National Football Foundation for all they do for the sport, keeping it going, to highlight what's good. I'm very thankful to be a part of it.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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