Gary Beban

Last updated

Gary Beban
No. 16
Position: Quarterback
Personal information
Born: (1946-08-05) August 5, 1946 (age 75)
San Francisco, California
Career information
College: UCLA
NFL Draft: 1968  / Round: 2 / Pick: 30
(by the Los Angeles Rams) [1]
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
QB Rating:39.6
Player stats at

Gary Joseph Beban (born August 5, 1946) is an American former professional football player. Beban won the 1967 Heisman Trophy, [2] narrowly beating out O.J. Simpson, and the Maxwell Award while playing quarterback for the UCLA Bruins. He played professional football for two seasons in the National Football League (NFL) with the Washington Redskins. Beban was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.


Early life

The son of an Italian-born mother and a first-generation Croatian-American father, [3] Beban graduated from Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California.

College career

Beban, known as "The Great One", excelled in both academics and athletics, majoring in European history while quarterbacking the Bruins across three straight winning seasons. As a quarterback at the University of California, Los Angeles, he was named to the all-conference team three times, and led the Bruins to a 24–5–2 record. His school record for total offense lasted for 15 years. As a sophomore, he threw two touchdown passes in the last four minutes to rally the Bruins over their crosstown arch-rival, USC, 20–16. [4] [5] In the 1966 Rose Bowl, Beban scored both UCLA's touchdowns in the Bruins' 14–12 victory over No. 1 ranked Michigan State. [6] [7] [8]

In his senior year, Beban played in the 1967 USC vs. UCLA football game, widely regarded as one of the best college football games of all time. The game pitted No. 4 AP (No. 2 UPI) ranked USC, and their Heisman Trophy candidate running back O. J. Simpson, against the No. 1 ranked Bruins and Beban—also a Heisman Trophy candidate—with both the AAWU and national championships on the line. Badly injured with torn rib cartilage and in great pain, he still threw for over 300 yards and two touchdown passes to lead the Bruins in scoring. Although USC eventually won the game 21–20 on a blocked PAT, and went on to the Rose Bowl, Beban would go on to win the Heisman Trophy. Both Beban and Simpson were featured on the cover of the November 20 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. [9] [10] Commenting on Beban's heroic effort playing through injury, famed L.A. Times columnist Jim Murray wrote that if "Gary Beban wins the Heisman Trophy, they ought to fill it with aspirin". [11]

In addition to winning the Heisman, Beban was unanimously named to the All-America Team, [12] won the Maxwell Award, and was awarded the Washington Touchdown Club Trophy and the W. J. Voit Memorial Trophy as the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast. He was also named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete and received the Dolly Cohen award, given to the player best combining academic and football achievement.

UCLA became the first school to have a player of the year winner in both basketball and football in the same year, with Beban winning the Heisman Trophy and Lew Alcindor winning the U.S. Basketball Writers Association player of the year award in 1968. For one week in November 1967, UCLA had the No. 1 ranked football and men's basketball teams, with the chance of landing national championships in both sports. UCLA did ultimately garner the 1968 basketball championship.

Beban was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1991. He is a charter member of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame, and the Bruins retired his No. 16 jersey. Although the UCLA football program has turned out a high proportion of successful professional players through the years, Beban remains the only Bruin to win the Heisman.

Professional career

After graduating from UCLA, Beban was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the second round (30th overall) of the 1968 NFL/AFL draft. [13] He was the third quarterback taken, after Greg Landry and Eldridge Dickey, [14] ahead of Mike Livingston and Ken Stabler.

His draft rights were traded to the Washington Redskins on June 14, 1968, after failing to agree to terms on a contract with the Rams, in exchange for a first-round draft pick in 1969 (the Rams used the pick, tenth overall, to select split end Jim Seymour). [15] Beban signed a reported three-year contract worth $200,000 three days later. [16] He played for the Redskins in 1968 and 1969, under new head coach Vince Lombardi. But, sitting behind veteran quarterback and future Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen, Beban was given little game time, and the professional stardom portended by his college career was not forthcoming. Released from the Redskins on September 8, 1970, [17] Beban signed with the Denver Broncos after the 1970 season, [18] but was waived on August 5, 1971, and retired from professional football immediately. [19]

Later life

In 1971, Beban joined the Los Angeles office of CB Richard Ellis, a global real estate services company. [20] Beginning in 1975, he worked to establish offices in the Chicago area. He was named president and general manager of the company in 1985, and in 1998 became senior executive managing director of the company's Global Corporate Services unit. For several years in the 1970s, he also provided unique color commentary for UCLA football telecasts.

In 2009, UCLA scheduled a special "Throwback Jersey" day in Beban's honor for the UCLA-Washington homecoming game at the Rose Bowl, where the team dressed in the powder-blue and white shoulder-stripe jerseys with pure gold helmets (without decals) of UCLA's 1965–66–67 seasons, uniforms first devised by the coach Red Sanders for his teams of the 1950s, including the 1954 National Championship team. Fans were able to purchase Beban's number 16 jersey to wear en masse that day.

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  1. "1968 Los Angeles Rams". Archived from the original on April 8, 2007. Retrieved July 18, 2020.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. Prugh, Jeff (November 29, 1967). "Gary Beban Wins Heisman Trophy". Los Angeles Times . It all began on an asphalt playground in San Francisco and it culminated Tuesday afternoon when UCLA's Gary Beban was voted winner of the 1967 Heisman Trophy, which is awarded annually by New York's Downtown Athletic Club to the nation's most outstanding college football player.
  3. Croatian Chronicle Network 35 Pacific Northwest Croatian Athletes
  4. UCLA Athletics: 1964-1965 Archived June 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. L.A.'s greatest moments 100 greatest #35 1965: Bruin sophomore Gary Beban heaves fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Dick Witcher and Kurt Altenberg to stun USC and Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett, 20-16.
  6. Wolf, Al (January 2, 1966). "Bruin Crowd Brimming With Joy...It's 'Everybody's Win'". Los Angeles Times.
  7. Sharkey, Larry; Olender, Ben; Kennedy, Joe (January 2, 1966). "Bruins Perform Surgery on Spartans' Line". Los Angeles Times.
  8. "Bruins Won It Easily". Los Angeles Times. January 2, 1966.
  9. USC VS. UCLA: SHOWDOWN IN L.A. - Sports Illustrated November 20, 1967 (Cover) Archived June 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  10. Article:The Great One Confronts O.J. Sports Illustrated, November 20, 1967, Volume 27, Issue 21
  11. Murray, Jim (November 28, 1967). "The REAL Gary Beban". Los Angeles Times.
  12. 1975 UCLA Media Guide, UCLA Athletic News Bureau, 1975
  13. Kale, Gary (January 29, 1968). "Rams Get Gary Beban". Times-News . Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  14. "Tantalizing names available in second day of grid draft". Lawrence Daily Journal-World. (Kansas). Associated Press. January 31, 1968. p. 21.
  15. "Redskins Buy Rights To Beban From Rams". Toledo Blade . June 14, 1968. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  16. "Gary Beban Signs Redskins' Contract". The Pittsburgh Press . June 18, 1968. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  17. "Gary Beban cut from Redskin roster". The Bulletin . (Bend, Oregon). UPI. September 9, 1970. p. 9. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  18. Johnson, Bob (April 6, 1971). "Beban on Hand, Too". Spokane Daily Chronicle . (Washington). p. 15. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  19. "Broncs Cut Gary Beban; He's Done". The Spokesman-Review . (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. August 6, 1971. p. 21. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  20. Myers, Bob (November 4, 1971). "No Football for Beban; He Succeeds in Business". Reading Eagle . Retrieved March 30, 2015.