Mike Rozier was in a time pinch, but it was hard to tell.
His flight was scheduled to leave Atlanta at a little bit before 10 p.m., so he wasn’t expected to talk very long Monday might at the Macon Touchdown Club.
Next time, he’ll schedule a later flight.
The 1983 Heisman Trophy winner clearly enjoyed talking to the crowd at the Methodist Home for Children and Youth, touching on growing up in Camden, N.J., playing for legendary head coach Tom Osborne at Nebraska, his family and his college and pro careers.
One thing the audience took away was how the 50-year-old looked as if he could still plow over a linebacker.
“I never lifted weights,” he said. “You laugh, I’m serious. I was just really gifted. Some guys got the talent and the gift God gave them. He gave me a gift, a wonderful gift.”
Rozier was part of a run of bruising Heisman-winning tailbacks in the late 1970s and early 1980s that included Earl Campbell, George Rogers, Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson.
One name not on that list was Marcus Dupree, a Mississippi high schooler who went to Oklahoma, had his career short-circuited by injuries and bad decisions and advice and was the subject of ESPN’s “30 for 30.”
“Marcus was a hell of a running back,” Rozier said of Dupree, who was two years behind Herschel Walker and rushed for 1,144 yards despite not starting until the seventh game. “I think Marcus would have been better than Herschel and myself. I think he was faster. Things unfortunately happened to him.”
He urged parents not to force youngsters to play, or put undo pressure on them, but rather to encourage.
He recalled wanting to quit football.
“Even though I had a great career, I never wanted to play football,” he said. “I wanted to be a trash man.”
After the laughter subsided, he explained that he simply wanted a good salary and nice house and to be happy.
“Everybody saw the talent that I had in football, and they kept on pushing me,” he said. “I’m glad they did. I have no regrets in my life. God’s been good to me.”
He was the second of Nebraska’s three Heisman Trophy winners. Johnny Rodgers, the first winner, will speak at the Touchdown Club next week.
Rozier grew up in New Jersey, so heading to the middle of the country was a bit unusual. For Rozier, it was an easy decision.
“Nebraska treated me as a person,” he said. “Other schools were trying to buy me to come. Coach Osborne treated me as a person.”