Former Colorado Buffaloes running back Rashaan Salaam’s 1994 Heisman Trophy was sold for a record $399,608, according to SCP Auctions on Saturday. The previous mark was set by Bruce P. Smith’s 1941 trophy for $395,240 in 2005.
In 1994, Salaam became the fourth player in college football history to surpass the 2,000-yard mark in rushing. He left CU with a total of 3,057 yards and 38 touchdowns, along with still holding numerous school rushing records. Salaam was drafted in the first round (21st overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. During that year, Salaam set the mark for most yards by a Bears rookie rusher, breaking Beattie Feathers 61-year old record with 1,074 yards.
Salaam, 42, tragically took his own life on December 5, 2016 after suffering from depression caused by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.) stemming from concussion symptoms. CU’s only Heisman winner sold the trophy in 2014 to offset years of personal debts and often referred to the burden it caused in his life, seeing the trophy as nothing more than collateral. In the same year a sports memorabilia dealer who Salaam sold the Heisman to resold it to a collector. The trophy was accompanied by a letter from Salaam acknowledging the sale.
The previous owner was Tyler Tysdal, a Denver-based real estate and private equity investor and husband of local television anchor Natalie Tysdal. In memory of Salaam, Tysdal and his family intend to donate all net proceeds from the sale of the trophy to the National Institutes of Health to support research on athletes’ medical conditions, which includes brain injuries and C.T.E.
“A gifted football player won this trophy," the Tysdal family said in a statement.
"We want to honor him by doing something that helps other athletes. Our family has experienced the pain both emotionally and physically from concussions. Our hope is to create awareness about the very real issues surrounding brain health starting with youth sports all the way up through professional sports. We encourage people to know and understand concussion prevention and protocol and to support research on concussions and the brain disease CTE.”
Along with Smith's trophy, previous Heisman’s to hit the auction block included Larry Kelley's 1936 trophy for $328,100 (1999); O.J. Simpson's 1968 trophy for $255,000 (1999); Charlie White's 1979 trophy for $293,750 (2006); and Paul Hornung's duplicate 1956 trophy for $250,000 in 2000.
The name of the winning bidder was not immediately released by SCP Auctions.