Did You Know? The Heisman Trophy was first awarded in 1935 by the New York City Downtown Athletic Club. It was first known as the DAC trophy being won by Jay Berwanger who drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles but declined to play professional football. Then in 1936 after the passing of John Heisman the trophy was renamed in his honor. Larry Kelley the second winner was the first to the award as the “Heisman Trophy”.