Four years after he carried off the 1967 Heisman Trophy, Gary
(the Great One) Beban turned his back on football for good. The
former UCLA quarterback had thrown one pass in three seasons
with the Washington Redskins and then been released. When the
Denver Broncos asked him to try out at free safety in '71, he
declined, telling them, "If you want to be a lawyer and you
don't pass the bar exam, do you become a bailiff just to get in
Beban's NFL experience was a letdown after his triumphs as a
Bruin. Between 1965 and '67 he led UCLA to a 23-5-2 record,
threw for 23 touchdowns and rushed for 35 more, and amassed
5,358 total yards, fourth highest in UCLA history. The apex of
his college career came in the fabled '67 showdown between the
No. 1 Bruins and O.J. Simpson's No. 2 USC Trojans at Los Angeles
Memorial Coliseum. "The stadium was already three-quarters full
three hours before the game," Beban, 52, says. At stake were
L.A. bragging rights, the Pac-8 title, a Rose Bowl bid, a
possible national title and the Heisman. The two stars lived up
to their billings. Beban threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns.
Simpson responded by rushing for 177 and two scores, the last a
64-yard run with 10:38 left that gave the Trojans a 21-20
victory on their way to the national crown. Beban's redemption
arrived two weeks later, when he became the first (and still the
only) Bruin to win the Heisman.
Beban's success in business has erased his NFL disappointments.
The year he hung up his cleats, he joined a real estate service
company in L.A., and he has been with the firm ever since,
moving up the ladder as the business has merged and grown. In
1975 he was transferred to Chicago, and in '87 he was named
president of the company, which had become known as CB Richard
Ellis. Now he's an executive managing director of the
billion-dollar firm's global corporate advisory group. Beban
lives with Kathy, his wife of 30 years, in Northbrook, Ill.,
where they raised their two sons, Paul, 28, and Mark, 23.
There is no trace of bitterness in Beban's voice when he talks
about his failure as a pro. "I did the best that I possibly
could," he says, "and there were other things I wanted to
accomplish in my life. Not making it motivated me to get back on
a winning track in my next career."
--Luis Fernando Llosa