On Wednesday, Howard was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
"My mom called me, and I was working out and my phone kept ringing," Howard said during a news conference broadcast on ESPNews. "I said, ‘OK, let me call her back,' because it was three or four straight times.' I said, ‘Mom, what's the problem, where's the fire?' I could just tell in her voice. She said, ‘Baby, you did it again.'
"I just knew it was something special. Just to hear those words and the way she said them let me know it was something she was very proud of. She didn't really have to say anything else.
"I live for my parents, so when I make them happy and make them proud, it doesn't get any better than that for me. It's a tremendous honor. I'm very humbled by it."
Howard, who won the 1991 Heisman Trophy by the second-largest margin ever after leading the nation in touchdowns (23), points per game (11.5) and kickoff returns (27.5-yard average), was one of 14 people voted for induction. Among them is former University of Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez.
Howard's 23 total touchdowns in 1991 are a Michigan record and his 19 receiving touchdowns are a Big Ten record. He finished his Wolverines career with 37 touchdowns.
Howard's 99-yard kickoff return that helped seal the Packers' victory over New England remains a Super Bowl record. He's the only special-teams player to be named Super Bowl MVP.
That historic performance almost never happened.
Howard, a disappointment as the No. 4 overall pick by Washington in 1992, was acquired by Jacksonville in the 1995 expansion draft. After one invisible season with the Jaguars, he landed in Green Bay in 1996. He was injured for most of the first half of training camp and might not have made the roster had he not returned a punt for a touchdown in the second preseason game against Pittsburgh. He wound up setting an NFL record for punt return yardage while bringing back three punts for touchdowns. He added another punt return touchdown in a playoff win against San Francisco.
"It feels great," Howard said. "I'm tremendously honored and humbled by this honor. Football is the ultimate team sport, and everyone who was involved in my career at Michigan, I bring them along with me into the Hall of Fame because I couldn't accomplish anything I did at the University of Michigan by myself. I'm honored to represent Michigan in the 2010 class."
Howard is one of six Heisman Trophy winners to have played for the Packers. The others are Bruce Smith (Minnesota, 1941), Paul Hornung (Notre Dame, 1956), Ty Detmer (BYU, 1990), Danny Wuerffel (1996) and Charles Woodson (1997).
The other players to be inducted are North Carolina State defensive lineman Dennis Byrd, Arkansas linebacker Ronnie Caveness, Texas A&M defensive lineman Ray Childress, UCLA guard Randy Cross, USC running back Sam Cunningham, Purdue quarterback Mark Herrmann, Duke wide receiver Clarkston Hines, Navy defensive back Chet Moeller, Arizona State linebacker Pat Tillman, Colorado linebacker Alfred Williams and LSU running back Jerry Stovall. The other coach is Alabama's Gene Stallings.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.