Archie Mason Griffin is a former American football running back. Griffin played seven seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals. He is college football's only two-time Heisman Trophy winner. Griffin won four Big Ten Conference titles with the Ohio State Buckeyes and was the first player ever to start in four Rose Bowls.
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I played seven years with the Cincinnati Bengals, and I'm president and CEO of the Ohio State Alumni Association.
I work with a program called the Wendy's High School Heisman Award, and we just announced our program finalists.
Like the collegiate Heisman Trophy, the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award celebrates high school seniors across the country who excel in academics, community leadership and athletics (27 eligible school-sponsored sports).
Victoria's helping me get started. AMA.
Update Thank you for the questions, some really great questions, enjoyed having the opportunity to experience this format, and keep rootin' for the Buckeyes! Go Buckeyes! Go Wendy High School Heisman!
How are you holding up physically? Given your running style I hope you're not paying too big a price now.
I'm holding up pretty good. I just had my 60th birthday in August and I get along pretty well. I work out at least 3 times a week. I do have some problems with my ankle and back that pop up now and then, but that can happen whether you play the game or not. Other than that, I feel pretty good.
Too young to have seen you play but I've seen some impressive videos. What are some things Heisman winners do together? Also, who gets your vote this year?
Shout out to legendary Georgia Tech coach John Heisman.
I'm glad you gave a shout out to the legendary John Heisman. The Heisman winners get together every year around this time when we're going to choose the new winner. It's a great time, we're all there for the ceremonies and on Sunday night we usually bring the new winner into the fold. We'll have dignitaries from his school and his family come to a dinner and we'll introduce them into the fold. Monday night we have a big dinner here in New York honoring the winner. From there on, we do our best to stay in touch with each other and look forward to getting back together every year around this time.
How do you think you would have handled the intense scrutiny from the press and social media that players deal with today?
That's a great question. That's the difference from the time when I played. We didn't have 24 hour sports on radio or TV, nor the social media aspect of sports. I think I would have been okay with it, I've done a lot of thinking about how I would deal with it from a social media standpoint. I always tell young people now that you can't pull back the text or the things that you put on social media, so you really need to think about what you're saying. I would like to believe that I would have followed those same rules as I was coming up.
What do you think is the next big thing for football?
That's a great question! Right now, the injuries are the big thing in all of football. Safety and welfare of the players is probably the thing that's going to be around for a while. The game of football is a very physical sport and injuries do and always will occur. We need to make sure we have the best equipment and we're teaching the best techniques to keep folks from being injured.
When you're with other heisman winners, do you ever go out of your way to let them know that you've got 2 of them? Like if you see someone doing the heisman pose with their trophy , do you go "I like to do that too, but it's a little harder for me to hold 2 of them"
That's a clever question. No, I've never really boasted about the fact that I've got two, but I feel grateful that I was fortunate enough to win two. I've always said that me winning two was the result of me being in the right place at the right time with the right people - being at OSU, playing with my teammates, and having great coaches. I really feel blessed to have two and those are the reasons it happened.
Any thoughts on Johnny Manziel being the first freshman to win the Heismann?
I thought when Johnny won the Heisman that it was fabulous. It showed me that the voters were willing to give the Heisman to the players that they felt were deserving. Before that, there was a bit of a stigma that freshmen shouldn't win. But Johnny had such a great season that voters voted for what they felt was appropriate and gave it to Johnny. I'm really okay with the fact that a freshman won the award.
Johnny has a chance to start this week against my pro football team, the Cincinnati Bengals. I wish him luck, but I'm a Bengals fan!
What's your favorite off the field memory from your time as an undergrad at the greatest university in the world, The Ohio State University?
Also, has there been another player you've felt was deserving of being a two time Heisman winner?
Thanks for taking the time to do this and Go Bucks!
My favorite off the field memory from Ohio State University was graduation. I went to OSU because I wanted to get a college degree, and completion of that degree was a great thing for me. I come from a large family with 6 siblings, and my parents' goal for all of us was to get a college education. To do that at the same time as playing football at Ohio State was my favorite memory.
There's been several folks who I've felt deserved to win it twice - as a matter of fact, just about all the guys that won it their sophomore or junior years had great enough seasons to win a second year. There have just been other players that pop up that year as well.
Archie! The legend himself. You are a hallowed figure in my house.
You came to my college once (Ohio Wesleyan) when I was a cheerleader, to celebrate the anniversary of the first OSU-OWU football game, and I got to hug and take a picture with you. It was such an honor to meet you, and I also wanted to say: You had on the softest sweater I've ever touched--was it cashmere?
I am serious.
You're the greatest! Always have seemed like such a genuine dude; keep inspiring your fellow Buckeyes to reach greatness :) I love you!
Thank you so much! I hope the sweater was cashmere if it was that soft. My wife probably bought it for me, she really pays attention to the sweaters I buy. She does a wonderful job with the sweaters.
Arch! First off: OH-
Thank you for you all you've done for the University, and the Alums. Your speech was the best part of my graduation in 2007, and throughout coaching and administration changes, it is amazing to see you still be a strong and steady part of Ohio State.
My question is this: What do you want want to do with the next 30 years of your life? Is there any big accomplishment or mountaintop you have to yet conquer?
The one thing that I want to make sure I continue to do is pay it forward. My former coach always talked about paying it forward and doing things to others. The next 30 years of my life will be towards helping others.
Do you ever speak to Maurice Clarett?
Every now and then I do have the opportunity to talk to Maurice. I haven't talked to him in quite a while, but he gets to events around Columbus, OH and we see each other every now and then. He's really doing some great things with his life and working with young people.
Do you think we'll see another 2 time Heisman winner?
I do think we will see another 2 time Heisman Trophy winner, and I've been saying that for a long time. The fact that freshmen are winning the Heisman Trophy, I know there is someone else out there who will accomplish winning the award for a second time.
Favorite thing on the Wendy's menu? And why is it the Baconator?
My favorite thing on the Wendy's menu is a single with cheese, mayo, pickles, lettuce and ketchup. Top it off with a Frosty!
Not counting games that you played in, which Ohio State game was most memorable for you?
My most memorable game was the 2nd game of my freshman year. I never thought I would get in the game because for the first game I got in for one play at the end and fumbled. I never thought I would get in the next game, mainly because all week long I practiced on the scout squad, which is like being on the 4th or 5th team. I was surprised that in the middle of the 1st quarter of that next game against UNC that I got in. I played about two and a half quarters and rushed for 239 yards which set a record.
This last game, the Big Ten against Wisconsin, is one that I didn't play in that will be one to remember because of the adversity that Ohio State went through all year long. Playing our 2nd quarterback all year, then getting hurt, and then having the 3rd quarterback play the championship game and winning was just almost unbelievable.
Hi Archie! Current senior at Ohio State and big fan. My question is what is your favorite story/memory you have of the late great Woody Hayes?
My favorite story with Woody Hayes is when he recruited me. He recruited me late, I was in wrestling season my senior year of high school and he called my wrestling coach up and asked to speak with me. We arranged dinner that night at his favorite restaurant, Jailai, and when I met with him for dinner, we had a good dinner but he never said one thing to me about football. I went home that night and my family asked me about the dinner and I told them I didn't think Coach Hayes wanted me to play football for him. My dad said that since we talked about the importance of education, that it meant he was concerned about me as a person and not just a player. Coach Hayes continued to recruit me and I chose to go to OSU, and I'm so glad that I did. The first thing Coach Hayes told us that if we were in school for any reason other than to get a good education, then we might as well leave right away.
Hi Archie. 2 questions. Do you think the Big Ten will match up competitively with the SEC in the future? Also, do you see Michigan re-tooling soon and making the rivalry as great as it once was?
I certainly hope so and I think we will. I think you will find that those power swings go in circles, the Big Ten will be strong one time, the SEC will be strong for a period, it cycles. Right now, everyone seems to feel that the SEC is the strongest. You'll have an opportunity to see if that holds true in some of the Bowl Game match ups, but I think these things cycle.
I absolutely see Michigan getting back to where they were in the past, it's a great school with strong tradition in football. I know that they're going to hire a great coach and will get back up to the strength that they were before. That rivalry with Ohio State is one of the best in the country. Even in years when Michigan or Ohio State don't have the strongest teams, it's always a great rivalry and always a competitive game.
The Heisman House is often times called a Fraternity of sorts, but how often do you keep in touch, outside of press events or commercial spots, with other winners? Who do you keep in touch with the most?
We actually get together every year during this time, surrounding Heisman week, and we also talk on the phone, do things for each other's charities and things of that sort. I like all the guys, we all have a good time.
Knowing what we know now about the physicality of football and the long term issues that many deal with, would you still play with all the information?
I would still play the game of football. It's a wonderful game and I've learned a tremendous amount from the game of football. The will to win, coping with pressure, getting along in a team situation, all life lessons that are helpful well into your careers. I would play. As a matter of fact, my youngest son Adam is at Ohio State now and he got injured and has been out for the last 2 seasons. But would I keep him from playing a game that he loves? No, but when you're injured, you have to know when it's time to quit.
My favorite snack is vanilla ice cream, no question about it. I could also add a good chocolate chip cookie. I love sweets.
Hello Archie, thanks for doing this.
With all the rule changes in the NFL today do you think that they are making the game too easy for the offence?
If you look at the number of points being scored during the course of the games, then I can understand why you would say that it's making it easy on the offense. And it is, right now, geared towards the offense. But I gotta tell you, safety to me is huge and we have to do whatever we can to make sure these players are protected. In most cases, the rules favor the quarterback and protection of a quarterback is something that's important.
Do you feel that high school football players play to many games? With state championships some schools get up to 12-13 games in a single year the same as most colleges.
As a former player, I guess when I was in high school we only played about 9 games. But, I will say this, at the end of those 9 games I always wished we would be able to play some more games. We didn't have the playoffs, and I wish we did. So, from that standpoint, I think that's about right for the teams that make it all the way to their championships.
I just wanted to express my gratitude for being part of a wonderful memory of my late father. Back in 1999 I was starting my first year at Ohio State and had tickets on the field. My dad also attended Ohio State the same years you were there, so you filled many of his memories. I was able to get him a ticket to attend the Iowa game, where they retired your jersey. Since we were on the bleachers on the track, he was able to call you over and talk to you a bit and briefly swap stories from your shared experiences at Ohio State. My dad looked like a kid meeting his hero and it meant a lot to me to see that. He passed in 2006, but that's one of my fondest memories shared with him. I wanted to let you know how much that meant to both of us.
Since I need to ask a question, how's your brother Duncan doing? He had some great Archie and Woody stories.
Thank you so much!
Duncan is doing fine, he's still working with Nationwide Insurance and still doing a great job. I loved having him as a teammate when I was at Ohio State.
What is the next big project for the Alumni Association?
At the Alumni Association, the big thing that we are working on right now is our office of volunteer relations. We want to make sure that our alumni are matched with volunteer opportunities at The Ohio State University and throughout the communities in which they live, in the name of Ohio State University.
If you could transplant all of the player protection rules in place today back to your games, would you?
Do you feel like they are hurting the game as a spectator sport?
I'm a true believer in safety. I believe in that, as a matter of fact, I think some of the rules they are putting into the game today are good rules. Back when I played, they could horse collar you and it's not a good feeling. I like the fact that it's a rule that's a penalty now. I think it's important to protect the quarterback, but at the same time, you cannot put the defensive team in disadvantageous situations. For instance, when you have head to head contact at times, sometimes, it is not intentional. It's just that people are trying to move in a way they feel will protect them. It's in a sense not right for that to be a penalty or to get thrown out of the game because of it. Protection, safety, I'm a true fan of that.
Hi Archie! Who is your favorite running back in the NFL and/or college right now?
A guy who was a favorite running back of mine is not playing this year because of an incident that happened to him, and that was Adrian Peterson. I liked the way he ran the football. In college, I really liked the way that Melvin Gordon, a Heisman candidate for this year, runs the football. He gained over 400 yards and that was really impressive to me and I'm sure many others. Unfortunately that record was broken the next week. The new Ohio State running back, Ezekiel Elliott, is terrific and he had a chance to shine last week when the Buckeyes played the Wisconsin Badgers. It gave folks an idea of the great back that he is.
How long have you been working with the Wendy's High School Heisman? Do you find these young athletes inspiring? What can someone even as accomplished from you learn from them?
I've been working with the Wendy's High School Heisman program for 21 years, since it's inception. The athletes are really, really inspiring. They are absolutely unbelievable when you think about the amount of work they do in their communities and schools, and their high level of competitiveness in the sports in which they participate. And then, when you think of the great grades they get. You couldn't ask for a more rounded young man or lady. They are an inspiration to me and it tells me that if you put your mind to it, you can do just about anything you want to do. These young men and women have done a tremendous amount in the small number of years they've been on this Earth.
Do you think the college Heisman should put more weight on academics like the Wendys HS does?
I honestly like the way the Collegiate Heisman is awarded. There's several awards that emphasize the academic side of football, like the Campbell Trophy given by the National Football Foundation. But, it's truly great the way that the Wendy's High School Heisman recognizes athletes for their academics as well as service to the community.
Archie! As an alumnus, I want to say thanks for everything you have done for Ohio State. I have had the pleasure to listen to you speak in person and you are a great representative for the school.
Obviously being a Buckeye, you watch every game. But let's say you aren't watching a game at the Shoe. Where would you be watching it? I like to imagine stars watch games on their couch every once in awhile like the rest of us! Haha.
I do! I watch on my couch, laying down sometimes, I've got games on just about all of my TVs at home and after I get home from Ohio State games, that's pretty much what we do - watch college football. And on Sundays, I'm watching my Bengals play.
Who was your favorite football player growing up?
Also any thought on Johnny Manziel starting Sunday?
My favorite player growing up was Jim Brown. He played for the Cleveland Brows and I loved watching him play. One of the best compliments I got a s a little league football players was when the coach at our end of year banquet introduced me as the next Jim Brown. I will never forget that - I was proud of that introduction.
I wish Johnny a lot of luck, I'm happy for him to get that start. I know he's excited about it and I know he'll do a good job, although he's playing against the Bengals and they are the team that I played for and still root very hard for. I'll admit, when the Bengals aren't playing the Browns, I do root for the Browns because I grew up a Browns fan and I have a nephew that works for the Browns.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I just want to be remembered for being a man who always did the best that he could do with the opportunity that he had.
Hey Archie, thanks for doing this! 2 questions:
I think Heisman finalists from my time could win the Trophy now. Those folks would have the advantages that these folks in these days have. They would make the most out of the training facilities and all the wonderful things that these young people have today the way these young people are taking advantage of it. The main thing is the hard work, dedication and commitment that athletes put into the game. If you have that type of attitude, you're going to use those current advantages to your advantage.
Do you feel that the College Football powers that be have moved in the right direction with the playoff system? Since it is the first year of the new system, how do you feel it could be improved so far?
I think that they have moved in the right direction but I think they're going to have to move even further. I think you need at least 8 teams to get an idea of what a true college football champion would be. There's a lot of controversy around the four team playoff, but I think an 8 team playoff would have alleviated some of that.
Throughout the years of college football from your playing days to now, what are some moments or certain style of the game that sticks out to you?
Back when I played, running the football was very popular and I played for a coach who gave me a lot of opportunity to carry the ball. Things have changed over the years, you see a lot of spread offenses and some quarterbacks doing a lot of running that the running backs used to do. Quarterbacks are getting a lot of credit for the success of the teams, and that's why you see a lot of QBs getting nominated for the Heisman.
The evolution of the game and the quarterback and running back positions sticks out. When you look at running backs now in professional football, they don't seem to get the respect that they used to get in the past when it comes to being drafted. The last two years, I haven't seen a running back drafted in the first round.
Hi Archie, what are your thoughts on the direction of the NFL in regards to the personal conduct policy after several domestic abusive allegations this year?
I think the NFL is moving in the right direction. I hope that they are having conversations with their Players Association so it does not become divided among the league and the players.
Ive read you're a part owner of the Dayton Dragons Minor-league Baseball team.
Do you ever come to games?
Yes, I do attend Dayton Dragons games, however, my ownership was part of Mandalay Sports and we sold our ownership portion of the team.
At what point after winning your first heisman, did you decide 'screw it im going to win another'?
After winning it the first time, there's no question that you want to win it a second time. But you become a target after winning the 1st, and the 2nd is a lot harder, no question about it.
I'm to Skladany's case because I did not get an invitation to the wedding. Every time I see Tom I keep asking him "Where's my invitation?" I guess I wasn't important enough.