Like a lot of superstar college tailbacks, Dudek's car has fewer than 600 miles on the odometer. Unlike a lot of theirs, his just turned over. "That was a big day for me," says Dudek. "Never thought it would make it past 100,000." To pay off the car, Dudek had to take off the spring semester of his sophomore year to drive a van for Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Dudek needs Blue Cross. He has missed one game in four years. He has played with everything from broken toes to sprained fingers. He has played half of this year with a hip pointer. Dudek's swan song on Saturday was typical GI Joe. He carried 34 times for 265 yards and two TDs, and had runs of 56 and 40 yards called back. They would have given him 361 yards, four more than the alltime one-game high another preseason HeismanTrophyCandidate, Washington State's Rueben Mayes, had last year. With 4:16 to play, Dudek collapsed from a badly sprained ankle and exhaustion and was taken from the field by ambulance. Thigh bruise, indeed.
What the heck? In a year when Eddie Robinson proved a legend can smolder anywhere, why not write in Dudek as a civil protest against an otherwise forgettable, felonious season in college football: players raking in cash like bank tellers, tales of misdeeds by everybody from players to the NCAA itself, duplicity piled upon duplicity, fourth-and-long for sanity. Come to think of it, maybe we've got it wrong. Maybe Dudek doesn't deserve the Heisman. Maybe the Heisman deserves Dudek.