Festival Organizers will freely admit that this has been a very difficult year to line up the Official Festival Celebrities. The entire process, and every aspect of it, is so much more complicated now that it was even twenty years ago. But, the Festival has persevered; and, has, in the end, succeeded; and, Organizers are very proud of the results. Once again, a very satisfied Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® President, Barry Carper, is pleased to make another big Festival announcement: Heisman Trophy icon, Super Bowl MVP, and ESPN Sportscaster, Desmond Howard, will be joining the burgeoning list of 2019 Festival celebrities that will appear at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast, presented by Grange Insurance, held on Saturday morning, May 4th, at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic & Events Center on the campus of Shenandoah University.
During his college career at the University of Michigan, Howard set or tied five NCAA and 12 Michigan records. He led the Big Ten Conference in scoring with 138 points during the 1991 season on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and the Walter Camp Award; and, earning first-team All-American honors. Howard captured 85 percent of the first-place votes in balloting for the Heisman. During the 1991 season, after he became a Heisman contender, Howard decided that he would do “something special” during the Michigan-Ohio State “as a little shout-out to the people back in Ohio.” After scoring in the game, he wanted to do a backflip; but, Howard later said he “chickened out;” and, instead, he imitated the pose of the football player on the Heisman Trophy, immediately receiving an avalanche of media attention. Howard later said that “all of a sudden, everyone was doing it;” including fellow athletes, celebrities, and Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In 2011, Desmond Howard was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
After college, Howard was selected by the Washington Redskins in the first round [fourth overall], of the 1992 NFL Draft. In the NFL, Howard’s performance as a receiver was secondary to his skills as a punt and kick-off returner throughout his 11-year career. Though he did record 92 receptions in his first four seasons, he excelled as a punt and kickoff returner throughout his entire career. His most notable professional season was in 1996 for the Green Bay Packers. He led the NFL in punt returns (58), punt return yards (875 – an NFL record), punt return average (15.1), and punt return touchdowns (3), while gaining 460 kickoff return yards and catching 13 passes for 95 yards. The Packers reached Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots that year. The Packers led 27–14 at halftime; but, the Patriots mounted a comeback. After a New England touchdown, the Patriots boomed the ensuing kickoff to the one-yard line; but, Howard effectively shattered the Patriots’ hopes for a comeback with a 99-yard kickoff return for a Packers touchdown. The Packers won the game 35-21. Howard totaled a Super Bowl record 90 punt return yards and 154 kickoff return yards with one touchdown; his 244 all-purpose yards tied a Super Bowl record. His performance won him the Super Bowl MVP Award, making Howard the only player to ever win the award based solely on “Special Teams” play.
Howard currently works for ESPN as a college football analyst. He appears as an in-studio personality and, in 2005, began traveling with Rece Davis, Lee Corso, and Kirk Herbstreit to marquee matchup sites during the season for the pre-game show ESPN College Gameday. Tickets sold for the 2019 Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast presented by Grange Insurance have already exceeded last year’s total attendance. Due to catering constraints, the event may be capped at 1,000 tickets sold. Festival Organizers advise fans not to wait!
Note: Desmond is unable to sign Heisman Decorated items due to an NCAA rule.