There are certain honors and offices that once conferred come to define those who hold them. To be awarded a Nobel Prize, being accepted into the knighthood or elected to the U.S. presidency are among the rare distinctions that become forever entwined with a person's identity.
And Two-time Heisman Trophy Winner Archie Griffin wouldn't have it any other way.
"That name is going to go with me to my grave," Griffin reflected during a recent conversation with The Huffington Post. "And you know what? That's alright, because I'm very, very proud of the fact that I won the Heisman Trophy those two times."
While a win for any of the three finalists for the 78th Heisman Trophy would represent a historic "first," Griffin's unprecedented run of back-to-back Heisman Trophy wins in 1974 and 1975 remains one of the most remarkable achievements in college football.
"When you win the Heisman Trophy, it's a life-changing experience, Griffin said. "No longer are you just Archie Griffin, but you're now 'Heisman Trophy Winner Archie Griffin'. And after I won it the second time, 'Two-Time Heisman Trophy Winner Archie Griffin.'"
An undersized, native-Ohioan, Griffin excelled for the Buckeyes during his four years in Columbus. After fumbling in his first game as a freshman, Griffin proclaimed his arrival as a gridiron great with an astounding 239-yard outing in just his second game. Thanks to a remarkable combination of speed and power, Griffin steamrolled the opposition over the next four seasons, racking up yards and awards at a historic clip. In 1974, Griffin became just the fifth junior to win the Heisman. The following year, he become the first -- and still only -- player to win the honor twice.
"He's a better young man than he is a football player," iconic Ohio State coach Woody Hayes famously said of Griffin. "And he's the best football player I've ever seen."
WATCH: Archie Griffin In Action
Griffin took a few minutes to share his stiff-arm memories and discuss the 2012 finalists on the eve of the presentation of the 78th Heisman Trophy.
What do you think of the 2012 finalists?
I'm very impressed with the three finalists here in New York. First of all, I want to talk a little bit about Collin Klein. I think he has been a guy who has been consistent all year. He had one real setback when they played against Baylor, but he's been consistant all year and they did a terrific job. And if he wins a Heisman he will be the first Kansas State player to ever do it.
Manti Te'o is a guy who has been, again, consistent all year. If he wins, he'll be the first defense-only player to win the Heisman Trophy. Charles Woodson did it. He played defense but he played both roles. And certainly Manti Te'o, it's been a storybook situation. He's playing on a team that wasn't ranked at the beginning of the year. He's now playing in the national championship, 12-0, so that's storybook material right there.
And what about Johnny Football?
Then, certainly, Johnny Football, Johnny Manziel, who really catapulted himself up into the Heisman Trophy atmosphere when they had that signature victory over a team a lot of people thought was invincible -- Alabama. Defeating them at their place, I think, made a huge difference in the mind of some of the folks voting for the Heisman trophy. He's a freshman, so if he wins he will be the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
Could voters discount him due to his age?
I think there's probably a little bias out there [about] him being a freshman, and that he may have to pay his dues and what not. I hope people have gotten to a point where that's not the case, but you know that some of that's out there. But it's going to be a very, very exciting race this year. I have no idea who's going to win it. I think its going to be a close vote, and I look forward to seeing the results.
You were part of freshman class that made some history in 1972. Was there any bias or negative reaction when the NCAA first permitted freshman to play with the varsity?
It was a pretty big deal at the time. But amongst my teammates, I don't feel like I came across that. If I did, I didn't notice. I imagine there was some folks there that probably felt that an upperclassman should've had more of an opportunity than I had. I got the opportunity to start the third game of the season but I'd like to think I had proven myself as well.
What is more important for a Heisman candidate: Consistency or a player's best performances?
Well, I think that both of those things are important. I think being consistent is very, very important because that shows that all year long you're doing what's expected and you're doing the things to keep your team winning. I think the fact that you're on a team that's getting wins is very important, too. And I think that your importance to that team means a lot. So I really look at how important individuals are to their team's success.
What distinguished you during your Heisman seasons?
For me, I think consistency was the important thing for voters for me at that time. I think one of the things that I had that really stood out was over a 3-year period, I had 31 straight games rushing for over 100 yards and I think voters really looked at that. And when you talk about records and being proud of records, that's certainly one that I'm most proud of still to this day, having 31 straight games rushing for over 100 yards.
How long until someone else joins you as a two-time winner?
I have no idea, because my feeling was 'If I was able to do it twice, I know someone else can do it twice.' And I've felt that way for a long, long time. And I know thats it's going to happen. It's just a matter of when it's going to happen. And certainly if Johnny Manziel wanted he'll have three more opportunities to win it, if he wants. There were guys I was surprised that they didn't do it, especially when guys started winning as sophmores. I really started thinking someone is gonna win it twice, for sure.
Did you think that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller had a chance this year?
I thought he had a good chance this year. I was hoping that he would be one of the finalists coming to New York. This year they only took three. But I really think he's set up very, very well for the future. Braxton is really a remarkable player. You have to see him live to appreciate the things that he does. He's pretty special. I know in the future we're going to have very good football teams at Ohio State, and I know that he's going to be a huge part of that. The future is very bright for Braxton, and his prospects of getting a Heisman Trophy one year.
Do you think that the Buckeyes' postseason ban kept him out of the Heisman race?
I'm hoping that the fact that we weren't able to play in the postseason, that that didn't have anything to do with that. I dont know how many people had the opportunity to see how Braxton played, but if they saw him play then I would tell you that they saw a remarkable player. His Wisconsin game was not as good as he had played all year long, but overall he had a terrific football season.
What was the protocol and how much fanfare was there when you got the call to come to New York back in the 1970s?
When I won the Heisman, it was a lot different than it is now because it was not a big television production. When I won it, it was just simply someone called the school on a Monday afternoon and told the school that I needed to be in New York the next day and that when I got to New York there would be two other players there and that they would announce the winner of the Heisman Trophy. Well, when they got me there, I found out I was the only person there. And they announced me the winner.
I went home the same day and I came back that Saturday for the weekend. Sunday night they had the Heisman dinner dance where they celebrate the school and the winner. And Monday night we had the big dinner where they honored the Heisman Trophy winner. So it was different back at that time. But I'll never forget the experience that I had, especially the first time because the guy that won it before me was John Cappelletti. And I remember that people told me that sometimes you get up there and you can't help yourself, you're going to get really emotional. John Cappelletti won it before me and he dedicated his trophy to his younger brother, Joey, who was having all kind of physical problems and what not.
Did you get emotional?
It was something that you always hear, a story that's been told for a long time. But I didn't think that would hit me. But I remember when I went up there I couldn't get two words out of my mouth and all of a sudden tears started running down my eyes. I got to thinking about my family, my mom and father who was sitting out there, my brothers and sister who were crying. Everything just came down on me, and I couldn't keep it back. I mean, I really broke down. It was a major experience for me. And people told me that would happen. I said, 'No, it wont happen to me.'