Former Badger standout makes another Janesville visit
The former University of Wisconsin football standout and 1999 Heismen Trophy winner made his second appearance in the past four months here at the annual Boys & Girls Club of Janesville Steak & Burger Banquet on Wednesday at the Pontiac Convention Center.
“It’s a nice place,” Dayne said as he prepared to autograph memorabilia for a long line of eager Boys and Girls Club members. “As long as the people still love me, I love to come down and hang out with them anytime I can.’’
Dayne said he enjoys helping good causes like Boys and Girls Clubs just as much as he enjoys pumping up the University of Wisconsin. Dayne was the star of the 1999 team that won the last of the program’s three Big Ten and Rose Bowl titles in a span of seven seasons.
“Whatever I can do to bring more attention to the football team and the school, I’m going to do,’’ said Dayne, who joined UW coaches and players at the Badger Booster Day last June at Rotary Gardens. “That’s just me. I’m a Wisconsin fan, and I support all the sports.’’
Like all Badger fans, Dayne is pleased with the Badgers’ 5-0 start. He said improved teamwork is keying Wisconsin’s success.
“I’m loving it,” Dayne said. “They are playing hard, and they are playing together, and that’s the biggest thing.
“When you play together as a team, you can go as far as you want to go,” Dayne added. “Like when I won the Heisman, and we won Rose Bowls, if it wasn’t for the team, I probably would have none of that.’’
Dayne finished his college career by becoming the all-time rushing leader in Division I-A history—his 6,397 yards, which didn’t include bowl games are still the most a decade later.
Dayne passed Ricky Williams for the all-time lead in the last home game of the season, a 41-3 victory over Iowa on Nov. 13, 1999, that clinched the Big Ten title. Dayne gained 981 yards in the final five games of the regular season to clinch the Heisman.
Smash-mouth, grind-it-out football is the signature for the UW. But in recent times, the passing game has been a key to the Badger attack. Dayne is aware of the changing times.
“I might have to do a little ‘old school’ and do like Woody Hayes and tackle (the quarterback),” Dayne said wearing a smile. “So if you see me on the sidelines, and he comes my way, I might have to tackle him.’’
Dayne’s seven-year NFL career ended in 2007 with the Houston Texans. The New York Giants made Dayne the 11th pick in the 2000 NFL draft before he moved on to the Denver Broncos in 2005.
“My last year (in the NFL), my son was just getting into playing football, and watching the games,” Dayne said. “It was kind of tough to be away from it, because he was just getting into it.’’
Dayne lives in Waunakee and has four children. His 11-year-old daughter, Jada, is the oldest.
While Dayne is out of the NFL, he remains in contact with former teammates.
“I talk to my boys all the time,” Dayne said. “That’s one reason I play fantasy football, because I have all my friends on the team.’’
Dayne, 32, would like another shot at the NFL, but a foot injury may limit the possibility.
“I still get calls, but I had surgery last December and fixed my ankle, but they hit nerves doing it,” Dayne said. “It messed up the bottom of my foot, and it feels like I’m hitting my funny bone all day.’’
Dayne is happy to be a fan, and he enjoys Brett Favre.
“I watched Favre run through (the Packers),” Dayne said of the Favre-led Minnesota Vikings’ 30-23 victory on Monday. “I like Brett Favre. That’s my man.
“He can say I might come, I might not,” Dayne added. “That’s great.’’
And the great Dayne also likes to call Janesville a nice place.