By Colorado Sports Hall of Famer, Larry Zimmer, KOA Radio, retired
A native of San Diego, he played eight-man football in high school at La Jolla Country Day. His father, Teddy Washington, was a running back in the NFL.
In 1994, his junior season, Salaam was a unanimous All Big Eight and All-America pick, he won the Doak Walker award as the nationís top running back, the Walter Camp Award as the National Player of the Year, and the Heisman Trophy. The vote wasnít close. Salaam outpolled runner-up, Ki-Jana Carter of Penn State 1,743 to 901.
The final game of the season was against Iowa State in Boulder and Salaam needed 204 yards to reach 2,000, a feat that had been accomplished only three times in college football, by Marcus Allen (USC), Mike Rozier (Nebraska) and Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State). All three won the Heisman.
It was early in the fourth quarter when Salaam reached the magic number on a 67-yard touchdown dash down the east sideline. He was mobbed by his teammates, and the crowd in Folsom Field chanted “Heisman, Heisman, Heisman.” For the game, Salaam gained 259 yards in 29 carries, capped by his touchdown run that no doubt clinched the Heisman Trophy. For the season he rushed for a CU record 2,055 yards.
He averaged more than 7.5 yards per carry and set school records scoring 24 touchdowns and having nine consecutive 100-yard games, including four 200-plus yard games. It is more remarkable considering that he didn’t play in the fourth quarters of five games.
The 1994 Buffs (11-1) were powerful and if they were leading by big margins late in the game, Coach Bill McCartney didn’t play the starters. More than half of his yards came against ranked teams of Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Nebraska.
After scoring three touchdowns in Colorado’s 41-24 victory over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, Salaam turned professional. He was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears and was the NFC Rookie of the Year in 1995, when he rushed for 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns. In a career cut short by injuries, he played three years for the Bears and briefly with Green Bay, Cleveland and San Francisco.
He is in the CU Athletic Hall of Fame and on the ballot of the College Football Hall of Fame. His number 19 was retired at the California game last year, only the fourth in Buffalo history.
Tragically, he took his own life at age 42 on December 5, 2016. He is remembered by his teammates and those who were fortunate enough to know him as a genuinely nice man, who loved and cared for people.
He was recognized at the 2016 Heisman celebration. Executive Director Rob Whalen said, “Rashaan will always be remembered with a smile and a laugh. His easy-going personality is already missed by all of us who knew and loved him.”
Rashaan will always be remembered with a smile and a laugh. His easy-going personality is already missed by all of us who knew and loved him.